Every two days, Rishi Pochiraju will reveal a quarterback on his grand list of quarterback rankings. Each quarterback will receive a grade out of 50 – 10 points for each category. See his page for earlier ranked quarterbacks. Up next: number 20.
#20. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Former first overall draft pick Alex Smith gets a fresh start in Kansas City after spending the first eight seasons of his career in San Francisco. We know all about Smith’s story – he was considered a “bust” until Jim Harbaugh made the switch from Palo Alto to San Francisco and resurrected Smith’s career.
2012 started off great for Smith, leading the league in completion percentage before what turned out to be a season-ending concussion (at least in terms of playing). Colin Kaepernick took over and the rest is history.
Smith and new Chiefs coach Andy Reid look to get Kansas City back on track a year after having the worst record in the league, and subsequently, the number one overall pick. Smith has tons of offensive talent around him in Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki, Dwayne Bowe, and a solid offensive line. Smith will have to be the same player he was during his last two years in San Francisco for the Chiefs to succeed offensively.
Physical traits and athleticism
At 6-4, 217 pounds, Smith has good height and size for a quarterback. His athletic ability is often underrated. He’s able to scramble for extra yards, pick up first downs, and extend drives with his legs – not at the efficiency as Colin Kaepernick (as he showed last year), but what Smith can do physically should be enough for whatever Andy Reid wants to do on offense. Grade: 7.5/10
One of the reasons Jim Harbaugh made the switch from Smith to Colin Kaepernick was because of the latter’s rocket arm. Smith doesn’t possess the cannon arm that many quarterbacks in the league do, but what he has, again, is satisfactory enough to work with. He is capable of making any short to intermediate throw on the football field, and that showed mightily in 2011 and 2012. Grade: 7/10
Smith’s mechanics have improved greatly since he first came into the league. His footwork is now more precise and his throwing motion does not involve so much of a wind-up to compensate for the relative lack of arm strength. He can still improve several aspects of his game in terms of this category, such as setting his feet in the face of pressure, but in general, his mechanics are on point. That’s part of the reason as to why Smith makes very few mistakes. Grade: 8/10
Some say that Smith’s mental make-up somewhat limits him, and that he is conservative with his throws because of that. I disagree. He is very strong mentally, but does not make the throws that are even questionable – another reason why he doesn’t throw many interceptions. He can make those 50-50 throws occasionally, but does not at this point. However, his mental knowledge of the game is an asset of his. Grade: 7.5/10
Smith struggled in his first five seasons with different offensive coordinators in every season in San Francisco. The continuity provided by Jim Harbaugh and company gave Smith something consistent to work with, perhaps the best thing. Smith was not able to perform well when circumstances changed, so we will observe how he transitions to a new group in Kansas City. Despite the rocky transitions, Smith is a good leader and not afraid of competition. Grade: 7/10
Alex Smith can prove to be more than just what experts call a game manager in Kansas City under Andy Reid. While he won’t have the resources he had in San Francisco, his physical tools are present, and he will continue to grow as a quarterback and should fit well into Andy Reid’s system with the Chiefs. Overall Grade: 37/50