Alex Smith has had an up and down NFL career. So far in the 2017 season, Smith is putting up MVP-like numbers. In week 5 against the Houston Texans, Smith was a key piece of the Chiefs high-powered offense and helped the Chiefs remain unbeaten. But how did Alex Smith make it to this point in his career? Let’s examine some of the key moments in his career that led him to be the quarterback he is today.
High School and College Career
Smith grew up in La Mesa, California and attended Helix Charter High School. He started for the team in his junior and senior years and led the team to a combined 25-1 record, including two section championships. Smith earned first-team all conference, conference offensive player of the year twice and both years was team MVP. In his time at Helix, Smith set a school record by throwing six touchdown passes in one game.
Post high school, Smith attended the University of Utah. During his time as the Utah quarterback he was a finalist in the 2004 Heisman voting and 2004 Mountain West Player of the Year. Smith was 21-1 in his college career under Head Coach Urban Meyer. He led Utah to the 2003 Liberty Bowl and the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. In his senior year, Smith threw for almost 3000 yards with 32 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, while adding 10 rushing touchdowns as well.
Combine and NFL Draft
Coming into the NFL in a class with a lot of high caliber players, including Aaron Rodgers, Smith had to have good workouts heading into the draft. He posted a 40-time of 4.78 and a vertical of 32 inches. Smith also scored a 40 out of a possible 50 on the Wonderlic test, showing his high QB IQ potential. And then at his on-campus workout, Smith impressed scouts, including the 49ers who had the first pick, with skills worthy of a possible lottery pick.
Coming into the NFL Draft, Smith’s biggest strengths were his efficiency and his on-field IQ. One of the biggest traits as an NFL quarterback is a lack of big mistakes, and that’s where he excelled. Smith was a mobile quarterback and had a very accurate arm. He was also heralded as an in game leader, something teams definitely want at the QB position. Smith was selected with the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers and his contract included $24 million in guaranteed money.
NFL Career – 49ers
Smith played for the 49ers from 2005 till 2013, in which he started all 16 games twice. Smith’s rookie year was a rough one. He only played in 9 games due to injury and had one touchdown and 11 interceptions. Over the next few seasons, Smith slowly improved, but spent time competing for the starting quarterback spot.
In 2011 the 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh as the starting Head Coach and Smith resigned with the team. Smith started all 16 games in 2011 and improved his mechanics and intangibles during the season. The team finished 13-3 and made it to the NFC Championship game. In 2012, with Smith’s contract up once again, he signed back with the 49ers on a 3-year deal. During that year, Smith was injured and Colin Kaepernick stepped in to fill his spot. Even though Smith was one of the most efficient QB’s in the league, he never regained his starting job.
NFL Career – Chiefs
In February 2013, Smith was traded from the 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs, following the 2012 season. Right away, Head Coach Andy Reid named him the starting QB for the 2013 season. In his first season with the Chiefs, Smith won his first nine games and again showcased his high football IQ. Following a heartbreaking loss to the Colts in the Wild Card game, Smith was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
In August of 2014, Smith and the Chiefs agreed to a 4-year contract extension. After missing the playoffs in 2014, Smith led the Chiefs back to the playoffs in 2015, this time defeating the Houston Texans 30-0 in the Wild Card game. In 2016, Smith posted a career-high in passing yards with 3,502 and also had a career-high five rushing touchdowns. Coming into the 2017 season, Smith was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL, but that didn’t come without it’s criticisms. Following 2016, Smith had played four seasons with the Chiefs passing for over 3,000 yards in all of them and having 20+ touchdowns twice.
Now, heading into week 6 of the 2017 NFL season, the Chiefs are sitting at 5-0, the league’s last undefeated team. Smith has been a key piece of the team’s success as well. Almost all of the weakness and criticism he received in the past were seemingly corrected. He is playing smart, being mobile outside the pocket and trusting his teammates to make big plays down the field. Smith is one of the top QB’s in the league and putting up MVP-like numbers. If he can keep up his superb play, the Chiefs will be a hard team to defeat for the duration of the season.