Geno Smith, one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s NFL Draft, threw for more than 4,200 yards, heaved 42 touchdowns, and completed 72.1 percent of his passes during his senior year at West Virginia University.
At the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend, we’ll find out how many times the 22-year-old can bench press 225 pounds, how fast he can run 40 yards, and how high he can jump. But there’s one stat that won’t be measured, and it just might make or break Smith’s career: How well can he see?
In 2012, only 20 percent of professional football players on the field—compared to 54 percent of all American 18- to 24-year-olds—either needed glasses or contact lenses, or had LASIK performed to correct their vision, says Michael Peters, O.D., team optometrist for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the author of See to Play. Peters worked with the NFL for two seasons to compile those numbers. “The amount of detail a player can see in front of him determines how quickly he reads a defensive formation, or where a pass is headed,” he says.