WVU's Smith has impressive pro day
By John Harris
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013, 6:57 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Geno Smith was late for his media session after impressing NFL executives, coaches and scouts at West Virginia's Pro Day.
Meeting with Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley for 90 minutes, Smith emerged from his one-on-one session displaying confidence befitting a Top 10 draft pick.
Jacksonville, which has the No. 2 overall selection in next month's draft, has been linked to Smith, the Mountaineers' career passing leader. Other potential destinations for Smith include Philadelphia (with the No. 4 pick), Arizona (No. 7), Buffalo (No. 8) and the New York Jets (No. 9).
“I've always gotten good responses, good feedback (from NFL teams),” Smith said Thursday. “I can spin the ball with the best of them. I can make all the throws.”
Twenty-nine teams were represented. The Steelers sent general manager Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and receivers coach Richard Mann.
Jacksonville thinks so much of Smith that it sent a large contingent featuring president Mark Lamping, senior vice president Tony Khan, general manager David Caldwell, director of player personnel Terry McDonough and offensive coordinator Jedd Finch to watch the highly touted quarterback.
“We didn't do any board work in the meeting,” Smith said. “We watched a little tape, but really just talked.”
Smith is getting used to the routine. As the draft approaches, more and more teams are displaying interest. Smith said he's heard from at least a dozen teams and believes the list will grow.
On Monday, Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly conducted a private meeting with Smith in Morgantown. Smith met with two other unidentified teams Wednesday night. He has another meeting scheduled in Buffalo on March 22.
“The main thing teams want to see is how much of the offense I am in control of,” said Smith, who completed 60 of 64 passes during his session at the Caperton Indoor Facility. Two of the incompletions were drops, and another hit an overhead net. “When you look at my game, it's from the neck up. Most of my best games are me making good decisions.”
As he often did during his final college season, Smith explained to NFL teams he can operate the read option popularized by Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson despite being more of a traditional dropback passer in WVU coach Dana Holgorsen's offense.
“I can fit any system,” Smith said. “I'm not a particular type of quarterback. I wasn't asked to run, so they didn't see much of that.”
Smith's two favorite receivers also showcased their skills Thursday.
Tavon Austin, who ran one of the fastest 40 times at the NFL Combine, said he's proven his small stature (5-foot-9, 174 pounds) won't hinder his performance at the next level.
“I'm a small guy,” said Austin, a projected late first-round pick who has workouts scheduled with Carolina and New England. “All I needed was an opportunity, and that's what I got.”
Fellow receiver Stedman Bailey also has a workout with Carolina scheduled for Friday.
“I'm pretty satisfied what I did at the combine, what I did at my pro day and my tape,” said Bailey, a projected second- or third-round selection.
NOTES: Sixteen players from WVU's 2012 team attended pro day. That total didn't include quarterback Pat White, a second-round pick in 2009 who played one season with the Miami Dolphins. “I'll take any opportunity I can get right now,” White said. “I just want to get back in the game.”
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