Merril Hoge is no shrinking violet. The NFL analyst is known for his candidness, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. Hoge spent eight years as an NFL running back, but the brunt of his critiques as an ESPN analyst have been directed towards signal callers.
In the past, he’s actually had a solid record of breaking down quarterbacks. Most notably during Vince Young’s standout rookie season, Hoge went against the grain by blistering Young and claiming that the Titans' playcalling was hiding not highlighting him.
Hoge has also taken up arms against Tim Tebow’s left arm. On Tuesday's NFL Live, Hoge decided to give his take on Todd McShay's belief that the Cardinals would draft Smith.
Hoge compared Todd McShay mock-drafting Smith at No. 7 to Mel Kiper hyping up Mike Williams before the 2005 draft. "In recent memory, I have never seen a more inconsistent thrower than Geno Smith," said Hoge. "Receivers that are wide open, (he) absolutely completely misses them. I got frustrated by watching him. … You cannot be that inconsistent in college and then fix that in the NFL. Decision making, I thought under pressure he was below, below average. … There ain't no way the Cardinals are gonna draft him. If Bruce Arians has anything to do about it, he will look at (Smith) and say there is no possible way.
It could have been worse. Hoge also called USC’s Matt Barkley a third-round prospect. Merril gets hate from all angles, but his criticism was legit. Smith built up most of his cache in the first half of the season while he was completing passes at a record pace, but fell back down to earth in conference play against Big 12 defenses. One thing I would agree with Hoge on, based on what I've seen, is that Smith struggled when throwing in conflict or when he was forced to move the pocket. I'm not sold on Smith, but I'm also not as low on him as Hoge is. Smith is superior option to anything the Cardinals currently have on their roster, and they could use an arm to feed their $138 million receiver, Larry Fitzgerald.