About a month ago, I found myself rewatching the game of the century, Ohio State vs. Michigan, 2006. It’s a delightful game, complete with the fantastic aesthetics of Ohio State and Michigan finishing a game under the lights, but I couldn’t help but wonder as I was watching it about the career trajectory of then-Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith. The QB was lighting it up, as he threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns. He won the Heisman just a few weeks later.
Then, just a few short months later, despite his on-field success, Smith wasn’t drafted until the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. That was what I was wondering about. How did this awesome playmaker, this elite passer, this top-notch quarterback fall all the way into the fifth round, while players like Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn came off the board in the first 32 picks? Why did Smith see so many teams pass on him?
The answer was pretty obvious. Smith is six-feet-tall, flat, and in 2007, that was too short for most NFL teams to consider Smith as a first round pick. Despite his prowess as a passer, his arm strength and accuracy, NFL teams had no interest in a quarterback that they deemed too small to start in their league. So he fell. And fell, and fell, and fell, all the way into the fifth round.
A few days after watching that game, and doing a little research on Smith, I watched as 5-foot-10 quarterback Kyler Murray came off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft with the number one pick. I watched last season as the Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield, 6-foot-1, in the same slot. This got me thinking: if they could do it now, could Smith?
Could a hypothetical Troy Smith, playing in a more modern offense, entering an NFL less afraid of short quarterbacks, be drafted in the first round? Through extensive scouting, and a pretty massive spreadsheet, I put together a video to answer just that question. So, would hypothetical Troy Smith be a hypothetical first rounder? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
In the video, I mention an article by Jemele Hill. You can read it here. All statistics were gathered from college football reference, all newpaper quotes from Newspapers dot com, and all footage from Youtube.