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Classic combine confusion (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday February 27, 2007 5:07PM; Updated: Wednesday February 28, 2007 11:11AM
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Troy Smith had a 25-2 record as Ohio State's starting quarterback.
Troy Smith had a 25-2 record as Ohio State's starting quarterback.
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Well, and one other thing: The national-championship game flop. Smith's nightmare performance against Florida is when all this backlash started. Because he's "just a guy," Smith was unable to escape oncoming Gator pass-rushers/freight trains Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey as they routinely plowed through Smith's blockers like they were made of cellophane. As we all know, JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn would have spun free of those defenders and completed 70-yard passes.

With such considerable evidence against Smith's worth as a quarterback, I figure there's only one possible explanation for how he won all those games in college: He's an illusionist. Yep. A full-on David Copperfield/David Blaine-caliber performer. All those times you thought you were watching Smith pick apart Texas or throw the game-winning touchdown against Michigan? He was actually throwing incompletions at his receivers' feet. He fooled you.

These NFL scouting guys, however, they don't fall for that stuff. They're too smart. These guys get paid the big bucks precisely because of their ability to spot the previously undetected imperfections of college players that we lay people miss. And boy do they earn every penny, whether by determining Mario Williams to be a better pro prospect than Reggie Bush, that Vince Young won't be able to make the transition to the NFL, that Ernie Sims would be more valuable to the Lions than Matt Leinart or that Drew Brees was only worthy of a second-round pick.

I mention Brees, the former Purdue quarterback-turned-New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler, because he happens to suffer from the same, career-jeopardizing affliction as Troy Smith: Being 6-feet tall. This, according to the scouts, is the single biggest reason Smith might not succeed in the pros. "That's the only negative on the guy," Chiefs president Carl Peterson told the Journal Sentinel. "And [defenders] get bigger every year. It gets more and more difficult to look over guys."

You see, this is why I could never hack it as an NFL personnel guy. Here I was, thinking that most men reach their adult height by the time they're 17 or 18, meaning that if Smith could throw over, say, 6-4 Texas defensive end Tim Crowder in the Buckeyes' game against the Longhorns last September, it stands to reason he would be able to do the same thing when the two face each other in the NFL next season. But according to Peterson, NFL defenders just keep getting bigger. Presumably, in a few years, Crowder will be 7-2, and by then Smith simply won't stand a chance.

"You [reporters] make it seem like being 6 feet is a disease or something," Smith said at the combine. "I stand before you now wanting to talk about some of the positive things that are going on, but yet still we keep on talking about the negatives. I don't understand."

What's not to understand, Troy? The experts have spoken. You're short. You can't throw. And your entire college career was a lie. Enjoy wearing that baseball cap on the sideline next season while charting plays for some undrafted free agent your employer just loves because they don't have to pay him anything and because he's got "tremendous upside."

Don't feel too bad, though. You'll always have that Heisman Trophy. Maybe one day, when your playing career is over, you can let us in on the secret of how you managed to win that thing despite a lack of any discernible talent. Boy -- you sure got us good.

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