E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith pay the trolls under the bridge upon entering the NFL

(USA Today)

The selection of E.J. Manuel drew the ire of many.

Among the surprises in the first round of the NFL draft were the Buffalo Bills selecting Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel with the 16th pick overall. Manuel was the first signal caller taken. Quite a surprise considering West Virginia’s Geno Smith dominated the headlines in the weeks leading up to the draft. Smith was not selected on the draft’s first day — another surprise.

As expected, the criticism of the Bills for taking Manuel at No. 16 and the chest-thumping of pundits who justify the first round snubbing of Smith.

Todd McShay later called the selection of Manuel a “mistake”.

For some reason the selection of a black quarterback brings out the most glaring stupidity in most journalists and s0-called analysts.  Two years ago, Cam Newton’s character was an issue month before he was selected No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers. Last year, Robert Griffin III was equal — if not better than Andrew Luck. Both quarterbacks had outstanding seasons and will become championship-caliber quarterbacks at some point in their careers. If you’re keeping the conversation on the level, you know none of those “experts” expected Griffin to play at the level he played last season.

Pete Carroll was chided for taking Russell Wilson in the 3rd round and ridiculed for starting him. Wilson only led the Seattle Seahawks to the NFL Divisional Round of the playoffs. Carroll said Wilson was the player he was locked in on to lead his team.

So why not E.J. Manuel?

David Klingler, Jeff George, Tim Couch, David Carr and Matt Leinart are just a few quarterbacks who were anointed by prognosticators as the next best thing and their selections were met with grand favor. In the end, they have become the rule — not the exception on selecting quarterbacks.

Stephen A. Smith shucks and jives “in defense of his employer.”

Geno Smith’s dream of hearing his name called will have to wait for a few more hours. Projected as high as No.1, Smith has watched 32 teams pass on him. Prior to the draft, Smith was given a scathing indictment by Pro Football Weekly scout Nolan Nawrocki.

“Geno Smith is not a student of the game. Nonchalant field presence — does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire. Mild practice demeanor — no urgency. Not committed or focused — marginal work ethic. Interviewed poorly at the Combine and did not show an understanding of concepts on the white board.

Needed to be coddled in college — cannot handle hard coaching.

A cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks, Smith is a gimmick, over-hyped product of the system lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room. Will be over drafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities.

I wonder how he feels about Matt Barkley — who was the Heisman Trophy front-runner and top quarterback prospect before he fell on his face in his final season at USC? Nawrocki also questioned the overall intentions of Cam Newton by calling his smile “fake”.

Nawrocki’s take on Newton back in 2011:

“Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and always will struggle to win a locker room. Only a one-year producer. Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.”

Nawrocki on Griffin:

“To me, there is a considerable gap. I think Andrew Luck is the most polished quarterback to come out of the NFL draft in a long time, as long as I’ve been doing this. He’s one of the best decision makers. I think he has an outstanding command of the game — a very unique pedigree, tremendous football intelligence. He’s got everything you want in a quarterback, accuracy, everything is there. It’s all in front of him. The difference between Luck and Griffin to me is Griffin’s ceiling is higher. The concerns I have with Griffin at quarterback are his accuracy (and) his feel in the pocket. I don’t think it is at the same level as Luck’s is, and I’m not sure that it will ever get to the same place. (Griffin) has outstanding athletic ability, makes plays in the pocket and has a very dynamic arm. The other concern I have is about his long-term durability. He’s shown before in the past that he has had difficulty staying healthy. He is more of a straight-linish type of runner, and I think it’s going to be difficult to stay healthy in the pros once he’s moving outside. He’s not very elusive, he’s more straight-linish and I think he’s going to have a difficult time getting out of the way of contact on the perimeter. For that reason, I think there is higher risk involved with the pick. I think the Colts made up their mind months ago, and I think they know which way they’re going.”

The fact that Nawrocki refuses to defend his assessment of Smith leads me to believe his feelings go way beyond his 40 time.

Smith was visibly disturbed as his night dragged on. It was reminiscent of Brady Quinn — who sat through 21 picks before his name was called. Pity fell on the heart of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — who offered Quinn a room away from television cameras. Smith was allowed to stew in the juices of his own disappointment until he decided to leave the draft altogether. After saying he would not attend today’s session, Smith has had a change of heart and will attend.

This of course gives critics another window to crawl through when it comes to questioning his character. The way Smith handled the disappointment of a lifelong dream has nothing to do with the way he operates inside the red zone. Remember, this is a young man who didn’t throw an interception until mid-October and was the Heisman trophy front-runner for a number of weeks.

There is a silver lining in it for Smith and it came from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who dropped from projected No. 1 to 24th in 2005. Rodgers tweeted words of encouragement to Smith.

The quickest way for Smith to make last night a distant memory is to use the words used against him to fuel his career. I’m sure Warren Sapp, Randy Moss, Tom Brady and Rodgers are pulling for him.





6 Responses to “E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith pay the trolls under the bridge upon entering the NFL”

  1. HarveyDent says:

    Stephen A.’s behavior is the reason why I don’t watch that show anymore. Everyone goes in on Skip Bayless but that clown really killed that show for me with his fakeness and name dropping.

  2. Ron Glover says:

    Yeah Skip just shakes his head at this guy.

  3. publius africanus says:

    An O-lineman in the 1st and a TE in the 2nd…could it be that Chip Kelly is trying to give Mike Vick some help???

  4. Ron Glover says:

    I’m counting on their next pick being a help to the secondary.

  5. mapoui says:

    Bengals agree with andre smith.

    great! what else must they address in the draft now?

    looks like Marve Lewis will have a good shot at the AFC north next season.

  6. publius africanus says:

    The Eagles took Matt Barkley. Should have known that help wasn’t just for Vick. Mike Florio and Peter King must be high fiving each other. If Vick struggles Philly fan will be in full throat calling for Barkley.