West Virginia Pro Day: Tavon Austin, Geno Smith open eyes
With 29 teams in attendance, Smith, Austin stand tall
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Geno Smith had just finished his Pro Day performance at West Virginia, a rather impressive throwing performance that could only enhance his position as the No. 1 quarterback in the draft, when he headed off like the aspiring professional he is for his next important appointment.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold the No. 2 selection behind Kansas City in the draft, wanted to meet with him. Smith held a long, in-depth session with first-year Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who was part of a large Jacksonville contingent that included team president Mark Lamping.
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The meeting was long enough that Smith didn't arrive for his media session at the Mountaineers' football facility until after all the 15 other participants in Pro Day had gone through their interview sessions, including wide receiver Tavon Austin, another first-round prospect, who stayed late to return punts for the 29 teams in attendance.
Austin was almost as popular on Thursday. He has several meetings of his own set up and workouts scheduled with the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.
At 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, the concern with Austin is durability. He's likely to be pegged for the slot, where durability is a challenge at any size. But he's explosive and fast, drawing comparison for his all-purpose ability to Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin or Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb.
Smith was involved in his meeting with Jacksonville for long enough that former WVU quarterback Pat White was able to complete his closed workout and hold a media session, proclaiming that he was "just following his heart" with this comeback bid that he has dubbed Operation Relaunch.
Asked if his comeback had to have him at quarterback, the position where he failed previously with the Miami Dolphins, rather than anywhere else, White replied:
"I'm open to being a football player … but my heart is at quarterback," White said.
Smith's throwing had to impress the gathered NFL scouts, coaches and general managers as he completed 60 of 64 passes thrown, but Smith expects that of himself and says his throwing ability is well known.
Former quarterback Ron Jaworski said on set that "anyone who watched this workout today understands this guy is a top-10 pick."
Smith, however, doesn't feel he has to impress anyone any longer with his passing skills.
"The scouts don't need to see me throw," he said. "They've seen it in games, they've seen it on tape. The main thing is I get into the classroom with them, let them understand who I am, my personality and my character," Smith said.
That was the case in his meeting with Bradley.
“They all are impressed. I do believe I have a really good skill set and can spin the ball with the best of them. It's not an issue of can I make all the throws," Smith said. "I can make that. The main thing they want to see is how I react in the classroom, how much of the offense was I in control of, what things did I do in my offense and in my college career that can translate into the NFL.
"We didn't do any board work in the meeting. We watched a little bit of tape, but really just talked."
Smith's goal for this day was to make improvement over what he showed at the Combine.
"Coming out of the Combine people wanted to see me improve in my footwork. They haven't seen much of me under center. It's something they all want to see, including myself. I'd like to see how I react to that," he said.
Smith isn't sure what his future holds between now and draft day.
"As of right now I expect 10 to 12 interviews, maybe even more. I had a workout Monday with the Eagles that went well and I have something coming up with the Bills on the 22nd," he said.
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