Originally Posted by ph90702
Why was Smith picked #1 if there were this many question marks?
No one seemed to answer this. I remember this vividly. I was completely against the 49ers drafting Alex Smith. I stopped liking the 49ers because of this draft pick. But more importantly their reasons for drafting Alex Smith.
There were a plethora of reasons why Smith went #1 overall. Most of which did not have to do with his physical ability.
Alex Smith was very well liked. He did tremendous during the interview process and made a buzz late in the process that he was an exceptional leader. He also scored very high on their IQ test. Although it was excepted that he was going to be a project from transferring to a pro style offense, most believed that he had the maturity and QB smarts to learn a complex system. He was supposed to be so smart that he could be NFL ready sooner rather than later. His intangibles negated some of his question marks surrounding his college scheme.
People throughout the process continually asked, "Is Alex Smith a franchise QB?" There were concerns about arm strength and his ability to throw the ball vertically into tight windows. He never did it in college and only thew deep to open targets. His physical ability was that of a mid round draft pick. Most people never rally debated against his physical limitations. He was pumped up in draft because of the position he played, his winning success in college (by making Utah a national powerhouse), his athleticism / ability to be multi-dimensional and, as previously stated, his top notch intangibles and leadership qualities. Those positives pushed him into round 1. I agreed that those positives made him more valuable than a mid round talent, and even a solid second round prospect, but his arm strength was more than just an a minor issue. It devalued his ability to run certain offenses.
What pushed him into #1 overall discussion was the need of the 49ers to draft a QB. San Francisco was taking a QB, and they were determined to give him the biggest rookie contract in the history of football. Not, however, because Smith was so deserving of it. The 49ers front office was a complete joke at the time. They tried to convince the fans that they were dedicated to winning. They thought they could prove this by drafting a QB and then paying him a hefty contract. This would prove that they weren't cheap. It was a PR stunt. And a terrible decision.
Also, another thing that needs to be mentioned, was the lack of superstars at the top of the 2005 NFL Draft. He did not have great competition. Aaron Rodgers was not an elite prospect. Jeff Tedford's offense and resume for turning out high profile, first round draft busts scared teams away. There was much greater concern about Rodgers college offense than there was with Smith's offense. People didn't like the way Rodgers held onto the ball. They complained that he held the ball too high and too close to his ear. His arm strength was better than Smith's, but not by much. And certainly not what it is today after Rodgers changed his throwing mechanics. Rodgers also didn't have the college career that matched up against Smith's. Smith was viewed as the QB who carried his offense. Rodgers managed Jeff Tedford's offense. Rodgers didn't blow away teams in the interview process like Smith did. He was viewed as being a notch below in the intangibles department. Rodgers was seen a player a little too full of himself, and not talented enough to have such a brashness to his personality. Smith was easy going and gave all the right answers.
The icing on the cake was when Nick Saban publicly stated that they (the Dolphins) were not moving up to draft Alex Smith, but they would take Smith if the 49ers didn't. The Dolphins said they were not going to draft a QB unless it was Alex Smith at #2 overall. That told the 49ers three things. 1) Smith would not be there if they tried to trade down. 2) The Dolphins agreed with them that Smith was the better QB of the two. 3) Not only was Smith higher on their (Dolphins) board, but there was a significant gap between Smith and Rodgers. So much so that that Dolphins would not consider Rodgers at #2 overall.
I hated the pick for a couple reasons. First and foremost was because I thought Smith was a second round talent. But to me it felt like the 49ers had to convince themselves that Smith was a franchise QB by hyping up everything about him you didn't see on the field / stat sheet. I never heard so much talk about a QBs wonderlic score than Alex Smith's (until Vince Young came along the following year). And the 49ers reason for paying Smith the contract they did... It's just wrong and against the ideas of sound player management. It was the prototypical scenario of drafting a QB for the sake of drafting a QB.