His draft position murky, Geno Smith seems prepared for a fall
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith once seemed a lock to be a top-five pick. Now, not even Smith himself seems so sure.
NEW YORK -- In what is being viewed by scouts and NFL execs as one of the more unpredictable drafts in recent history, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is one of the true wild cards.
He's generally regarded as the best of a somewhat pedestrian group of passers, and there are at least six teams picking in the top eight that have a legitimate need at this most important position in pro sports. Yet, Smith's landing spot remains cloudy.
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I can't see a truly drastic fall, as someone will eventually make a deal to get him, but where three weeks ago I couldn't imagine him not going top 10, now it's more murky.
Smith's potential predicament was the topic du jour Wednesday morning in New York City at an NFL Play 60 event at Chelsea Waterside Park, where Smith was among a group of prospects who instructed kids on the fundamentals of the game and then met the media.
Where Smith lands is one of the biggest subplots to this draft, which finally kicks off Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall. It also happens to coincide with the birthday of his mother, Tracey, so Smith vows to enjoy the family time in the green room, no matter how long it might go, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.
"I'm just enjoying my time in New York," Smith said, as increasing numbers of media members began to flank him on all sides. "Whether or not I get drafted low, or high, it's not really a big deal to me. It's been a great experience, and I've always said I've been blessed for this opportunity."
As to the potential for a long wait Thursday night, Smith quickly noted that a big first-round slide hasn't exactly crippled Aaron Rodgers' career (and, it's hardly dampened his earning potential, as Rodgers stands primed to become the highest-paid player in NFL history).
"Some of the greats have sat (for a long time) in the green room," Smith said.
Smith is in regular contact with his agent, Jeff Nalley, but said they aren't updating mock drafts and sorting through scenarios of what will come given all the various twists and turns this first round might take (unlike myself and pretty much everyone else in the football media at this point). He feels good about his visits and time spent with teams.
But all agents and teams are scrounging for information -- or something close to it -- on what each club's intentions are and how their board is stacked, trying to prepare for something that by its nature is impossible to predict.
Smith didn't appear overburdened by the intrigue surrounding him, and said going outside the first round wouldn't be a huge blow, either.
"You want to be first, as a competitor, but obviously it's out of my control," he said.
Smith has been spending some time in New York with teammates Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey, his favorite targets from West Virginia, and Austin said his friend seems relatively unfazed by the fact his draft-night experience could play out like a nationally televised soap opera, or cruel reality show of sorts.
"He hasn't really talked to me about it," Austin said, "but for the most part I think his head is going to be in the right place even if he doesn't go to one of those teams (at the top of the first round). He's going to prove everyone wrong. He's going to be a gym rat and make the people around him better players."
Smith is focused more on the work that is to come once he joins a team, and starts preparing for his new job, instead of what transpires in the next 24 hours. He's ready to head anywhere, and, with the Jets holding picks 9 and 13 and very, very high on Austin -- and in need of a quarterback -- who knows.
Maybe, just maybe, he and Austin will start their NFL adventure together.
"If that happens, man, that would be fun," Smith said. "But we'll see."
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