Diamond in the Rough: Brett Smith

Diamond in the Rough: Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Every year in the NFL Draft, there are talented players who slip through the cracks. Players go undrafted for a variety of reasons like being too undersized, a lack of speed, injuries, a lack of production in college or playing at lower level of competition. Some players end up not getting invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and end up falling to the late rounds or going undrafted all together.

The history of the NFL features some great players who went undrafted, including Hall of Famers like quarterback Warren Moon. In recent years, there have been other superstars who were undrafted free agents, including Tony Romo, Kurt Warner, London Fletcher, Antonio Gates, Arian Foster, Brian Waters and Priest Holmes. Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith became the Super Bowl MVP after not getting invited to the Combine and being a seventh-round pick.

With so much talent falling through the cracks, WalterFootball.com decided to start a new series to showcase some of the under-the-radar talents in the 2014 draft class. These players could be late-round picks or undrafted free agents who end up becoming steals for their NFL teams.

This edition features Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith. After three excellent seasons, he decided to skip his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Smith completed 63 percent of his passes in 2013 for 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The junior also ran for 573 yards and four touchdowns. Smith (6-3, 206) has some size and athleticism to him. In 2012, he completed 62 percent of his throws for 2,832 yards with 27 touchdowns and six interceptions. Smith completed 61 percent for 2,622 yards with 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a freshman.

After not participating in the Combine, how did things go for you at your pro day?

“I felt like it went really well. I ran well and threw well. There were a couple of throws I’d like to have back, but I felt like all my preparation leading up to it was definitely worth it. We did a great job of preparing and being on the same page with our timing, and I felt like we did a great job in our performance. I was definitely pleased with it.”

During your collegiate career, you improved and were very consistent in your production. What were some of the points of emphasis that you worked on to get better in the offseason?

“I wanted to make sure I was sharp and knew where I should go [with the ball] in the new offense we were running. There were so many wrinkles; I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going with each progression and be able to make all the throws and be as prepared as I could be. I wanted to work on going through my progressions from the first through the fourth rather than just the first, second and take off running – which I had a tendency to do my first two years.”

Mobility is an asset of your game, but in the NFL, you’ll also have to choose your spots on when to run to avoid injury. After that work for your junior season, one would imagine you feel more comfortable as a pocket passer. Still, running quarterbacks add a special dimension to an offense.

“Yeah, I’ve always tried to work on [pocket passing]. I want to keep my speed, too, and that has been a big part of my game going back to middle school. I ran track. I’ve developed speed and added that to my game.”

As you get ready for your rookie season, what are you looking to improve upon?

“Everything to be honest. I have a lot that I want to work on. I want to be sure that I improve my mechanics and decision-making for the next level. I want to be sure I know how to approach my preparation as far as watching film, practice-wise. All that will only benefit me.”

Talk about your decision to skip your senior season. Was it because you felt you had accomplished all your goals as a 3-year starter?

“It wasn’t so much that; I just wanted to pursue my dream of being an NFL quarterback. I had the chance and that was what I wanted to do. I want to do whatever I can to be one of the top guys taken and put myself into that category of players in the NFL.”

Have you been taking some pre-draft visits, and what are the teams that are bringing you in?

“Yeah, I’ve had a few visits so far, and I have a few more. I feel bad about this, but out of respect to those teams, I can’t say. I apologize.”

No problem, Brett. We understand teams can be protective of that info, and the last thing we would want is for you to upset teams that are considering drafting you.

“I appreciate your understanding. Most people don’t (laughing).”

Well, you’re doing the right thing in honoring their requests and that’s a no brainer. As far as offensive scheme goes, looking at Wyoming, you should have the flexibility to play in a West Coast or with a team that is implementing more of a read option. How do you feel about your fit?

“I don’t know. The way I’m approaching it is whoever decides to draft me, I’m going to go in that system and learn it the best I can and try to perform it to the best of my abilities.”

A lot of quarterbacks have role models who they pattern their game after. Who were the players you sought to mimic?

“There are a lot, but I would say Drew Brees with his accuracy; Peyton Manning, of course. I love watching Tim Tebow and the way he competes. Jake Locker as well with the way he and Tebow use their legs. My favorite off all time is Brett Favre.”

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