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Factoid

Geno Smith

Seattle's quarterback doesn't look like flash in the pan

I like the look of Geno Smith. He was one of the biggest surprises of last season, and I don’t think it was a fluke. I think he’s for real, and I would be very interested in drafting him to be the second quarterback on my team (in a typical 12-team format).

In DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks have a great one-two punch of wide receivers, and it’s looking like they’ll have a quality third option sooner rather than later. Jaxon Smith-Njigba outperformed Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave at Ohio State two years ago, and thus far every report out of OTAs indicates he’s picking things up quickly. I think there’s going to be a bunch of weeks that the rookie finishes with better numbers than either Metcalf or Lockett.

I’m expecting this to be a down year for first-year receivers, but Smith-Njigba looks like the chalk favorite to be the best of them. For the 2023 season, I would rather have Smith-Njigba than all three of the wide receivers chosen right after him (Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison).

It’s hard to get used to Smith as a viable quarterback, with him having been an afterthought for so long, but he put up top-10 numbers last season, averaging 252 passing yards, with 30 touchdowns (in 17 games). He also averaged 22 rushing yards (albeit with just 1 TDR).

The league has a “Next Gen” stats division, calculating numbers tied to player tracking chips. Among their stats is an “expected completion percentage”. That is, for each pass play, based on how much separation a player generates and where is he on the field, they make an estimation of whether the pass should have been completed.

“Expected Completion Percentage” becomes more meaningful when it is tied to what actually happened. By comparing the two numbers, you get some sense of which quarterbacks are doing the best job of making some money throws – completing passes that others might not have.

According to the Next Gen Stats numbers, Smith should have completed 65 percent of his passes last year. But in reality, he finished at close to 70 percent. The difference of 4.4 percentage points was by far the best of any quarterback. Only three others finished at least 2 percentage points higher than expected: Jalen Hurts, Jacoby Brissett and Joe Burrow.

The numbers suggest five quarterbacks finished at least 3 percent lower than they should have (given the opportunities that were available to them) and all are quarterbacks who had rough years. Zach Wilson and Baker Mayfield were both over 6 percent lower than expected. Justin Fields was 5 percent lower than expected (he made plays as a runner last year but he struggled as a passer). Russell Wilson finished 4 percent short, and Davis Mills finished at minus-3.2 percent.

To me, Smith looks like a borderline starter in a 12-team league.

On the chart below, it includes all quarterbacks who started at least half the season. Deshaun Watson is the most notable name not listed (having started just six games). Next Gen Stats indicates he should have completed 62 percent of his passes, but he finished down at 58 percent, underscoring that he was outplayed by last year (Jacoby Brissett finished at plus-2.8 percent, while Watson finished at minus-4.0).

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: Actual v. Expected
PlayerExpectedActualDiff
Geno Smith, Sea.65.3%69.8%4.4%
Jalen Hurts, Phil.63.7%66.5%2.8%
Jacoby Brissett, Cle.61.6%64.0%2.3%
Joe Burrow, Cin.66.1%68.3%2.2%
Daniel Jones, NYG65.5%67.2%1.6%
Kirk Cousins, Min.64.3%65.9%1.6%
Justin Herbert, LAC66.8%68.2%1.5%
Taylor Heinicke, Was.60.8%62.2%1.3%
Dak Prescott, Dall.65.0%66.2%1.2%
Ryan Tannehill, Ten.64.1%65.2%1.1%
Matt Ryan, Ind.66.1%67.0%0.9%
Andy Dalton, N.O.65.9%66.7%0.8%
Patrick Mahomes, K.C.67.2%67.1%-0.1%
Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.65.1%64.8%-0.4%
Kenny Pickett, Pitt.63.5%63.0%-0.5%
Matthew Stafford, LAR68.5%68.0%-0.5%
Trevor Lawrence, Jac.66.8%66.3%-0.5%
Josh Allen, Buff.64.2%63.3%-0.9%
Kyler Murray, Ari.67.4%66.4%-1.0%
Mac Jones, N.E.66.2%65.2%-1.0%
Marcus Mariota, Atl.62.5%61.3%-1.2%
Derek Carr, L.V.62.0%60.8%-1.3%
Tom Brady, T.B.68.2%66.8%-1.3%
Aaron Rodgers, G.B.66.1%64.6%-1.6%
Jimmy Garoppolo, S.F.69.3%67.2%-2.1%
Lamar Jackson, Balt.64.7%62.3%-2.4%
Jared Goff, Det.67.5%65.1%-2.5%
Davis Mills, Hou.64.2%61.0%-3.2%
Russell Wilson, Den.64.4%60.5%-4.0%
Justin Fields, Chi.65.5%60.4%-5.2%
Zach Wilson, NYJ60.7%54.5%-6.1%
Baker Mayfield, Car.-LAR66.9%60.0%-6.9%

—Ian Allan

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