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Holy (Alex) Smith!

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Alex Smith has quietly gotten off to a hot start this season. But should this really be that big of a surprise?

During the weeks leading up to the 2005 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers and newly-hired coach Mike Nolan had a big decision to make.

The team had finished a miserable 2-14 and owned the first overall pick. With no proven starter at the quarterback position, the team knew they needed to draft a franchise signal-caller. At the top of most draft boards, experts debated between Alex Smith, the junior out of Utah known for his accuracy, intelligence, and introspective outlook, and Aaron Rodgers, the local boy out of California known for his talent, arm strength, and headstrong attitude. 

When draft night came around, Nolan elected to pick Smith because of his easygoing, non-confrontational personality. Rodgers slid to the Packers at 24th overall and has since become one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, while Smith lost his starting job three years later and Nolan was fired soon after.

Although Smith found some success with the 49ers later under Jim Harbaugh, the team was really carried by its defense, which allowed the second fewest points in the league in 2011 and 2012. Eventually, Smith was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick and was subsequently traded to the Kansas City Chiefs the following offseason.

With the Chiefs, under coach Andy Reid, is where Smith quietly became a valuable quarterback. In his first season in 2013, Smith won 11 games in 15 starts and led the sixth highest scoring offense en route to his first Pro Bowl berth.

In four complete seasons with the Chiefs, Smith led the team to four straight winning seasons and three playoff berths. In fact, since Smith was traded to the Chiefs, he has the third most wins of any quarterback, even beating out his former draft rival Rodgers.Image title

However, quarterback wins can be a product of the team, not necessarily the quarterback play. So, let’s also take a look at the quarterbacks with the most approximate value (AV) since 2013 to see where Smith falls.

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Though he was not as high up on this list as his wins anticipated, he still ranked well within the top 10, coming in at number seven. Since he has been in Kansas City, he has been more valuable of a passer than proven veterans Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matthew Stafford. The one knock against Smith has always been that he is a system quarterback, known for just dumping passes off short to receivers who gain yards after the reception. However, since arriving in Kansas City, Smith ranks 11th in qualifying quarterbacks in adjusted yards gained per pass attempt (AY/A), topping gunslingers Andrew Luck, Stafford, and Derek Carr.

Perhaps Smith’s best asset is his turnover adverseness. Since 2013, Smith has thrown the fewest picks (28) by quarterbacks with at least 40 starts. In that time, he has started a whopping 64 games, more than everybody else in the top 10 besides Russell Wilson. While Rodgers has been known for his superb decision making, he has thrown more picks (29) in fewer starts (60) than Smith.

This season, Smith and the Chiefs are off to a hot start. After upsetting the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots on the road in Week 1, the Chiefs have cruised to a 3-0 start behind Smith, who leads the league in passer rating at a whopping 132.7. He has passed for seven touchdowns to zero interceptions and already has three passes for over 40 yards, tied for second in the league.

After initially being viewed as a bust, Alex Smith has rebounded with the Kansas City Chiefs in a spectacular way. Since outshining the GOAT to kick off the season, fans have wondered if Smith is for real.

Based on his numbers over the past few years, he most certainly is.

Edited by Jazmyn Brown, David Kaptzan.

SQuiz
Who was the third quarterback selected in the 2005 NFL Draft, one pick after Aaron Rodgers
Created 9/25/17
  1. Kyle Orton
  2. Jason Campbell
  3. Jay Cutler
  4. Matt Leinart

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