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Hot, cold season at WVU makes QB Geno Smith a question mark

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (12) runs for

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (12) runs for a first down against South Florida during the second quarter. (Dec. 1, 2011) Credit: AP

INDIANAPOLIS -- The question for NFL scouts about Geno Smith is simple: Is he the explosive quarterback who got off to a dominant start in 2012 and invited speculation about being the first overall draft pick in April? Or is he the inconsistent passer whose team's second-half slump was an indication that he's not in the class of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, the 1-2 quarterback punch at the top of last year's draft?

The West Virginia quarterback would like to believe his late-season struggles, which included a poor performance in a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, are not an indicator of bad things to come at the pro level.

"We came out real hot , we were fired up, and really ready to prove ourselves," Smith said in an interview at the annual NFL scouting combine.

And then? "Then inconsistency set in," he said. "I'm not going to say that anyone wasn't working hard. When we went through that tough stretch, I was the first one to stand up in front of the team and let them know, we're going to work even harder and we're not going to put our heads down. That's the one thing I take from that experience is that being a leader you're not going to deal with fair situations at all times."

It wasn't all Smith, of course. After starting the season 5-0, and with Smith throwing 24 touchdown passes and no interceptions (including eight TD passes against Baylor), the Mountaineers lost five straight. During that stretch, Smith threw 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions. In the loss to Syracuse, he had two touchdown passes and no picks.

The Chiefs have the No. 1 overall pick and are in the market for a quarterback, but it's uncertain if Smith will become new coach Andy Reid's franchise quarterback. The Chiefs might opt to take tackle Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and possibly trade for Eagles starter Nick Foles. For now, the Eagles say Foles isn't available, although that might change in the coming weeks.

If the Chiefs ignore Smith, then there's a chance he could fall to the middle of the first round.

He said whoever takes him will get themselves a winner.

"I'm dedicated to the game," he said. "I have a zeal and a passion for the game and I'm going to work extremely hard to hone in on my skills and be the best I can be from Day 1."

But Smith knows there is work to be done.

"I have a number of things I need to improve on," he said. "I work extremely hard to better myself as a whole and every single aspect of my game is improving day by day. So that's for someone else to decide. But I feel every single part of my game needs to improve."

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