Smith thought he was going to be a first-round pick last week and was at Radio City Music Hall for the first night of the draft. He never heard his name called. After the first round, Smith told ESPN he wasn't going to return the next day for the second round. Although Smith reconsidered, his initial decision showed a level of immaturity in the way he handled a significant disappointment that likely won't be his last.
Earlier this week, Smith fired his agents, Select Sports Group's Jeff Nalley and Eric Burkhardt. While Smith told Sirius XM NFL Radio that the firing wasn't because he slipped into the second round, he would not give a reason for his decision.
On Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that in pre-draft meetings with some teams, Smith was more preoccupied with texting friends and checking Twitter than interacting with coaches and front-office executives. If true, that is a damning indication of where he was mentally as he headed into the biggest moment of his young career. Those meetings were job interviews. They were auditions. To not take every opportunity to impress potential employers is incredibly shortsighted, as was wasting any opportunity to learn something from others who have experience in the NFL.
Smith now finds himself in arguably the most volatile situation in the NFL in the country's largest media market. He is one of five quarterbacks on the Jets' roster who will compete for the job Mark Sanchez has held for the past four seasons. There apparently isn't a front-runner. Smith's new coach, Rex Ryan, is a lame duck walking. The roster has significant holes. And leadership inside the locker room is lacking.
AP Photo/Eric GayGeno Smith's impressive numbers at West Virginia won't mean anything as he battles for the Jets' starting quarterback job.
Every mistake Smith makes will be under intense scrutiny, as will how he reacts to the mistakes and the criticism for them. He can't pout or be hypersensitive. He can't sulk. He must be steady and composed and patient. He must tune out the noise.