A sampling of reactions to the NFL combine workouts by Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey on Sunday in Indianapolis:
NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang:
“West Virginia’s Geno Smith was the most impressive of the 14 quarterbacks who threw at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, but he did not provide the sparkling performance to seal up the No. 1 overall pick — or even assert himself as the clear-cut top quarterback.
“Smith impressed early in the day, clocking in at a 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He was also dynamic in the throwing session at times, hitting receivers in stride on passes which require velocity (slants) and touch (verticals, post-corners).
“A few of Smith’s handful of deep balls hung in the air, forcing receivers to slow considerably. He also forced receivers to adjust on several of the shorter routes, including many of the square-ins. Several NFL talent evaluators in the stands were polled following the day’s throwing session. Asked to grade Smith on a 1-10 scale, the passer received an average score of seven.”
NFL Network’s Mike Maycock:
“I saw everything that I saw on tape about Geno, and that is, he flashed everything you want to see in a franchise quarterback on tape during the season. He has a big arm, good arm, he moves well, he can be accurate. Everything I saw on tape I saw here today. He’s a natural thrower; he doesn’t force the ball. What I go back to is I don’t care as much about this – I’m happy he did this because it just shows me he’s not afraid. (Cam Newton did it and he didn’t throw the ball well and he still was the first pick in the draft.) To me, it‟s more important what you see on tape.
“I want to bang the table because I want to like Geno Smith. We interviewed him, I love what he had to say, but there are just too many inconsistencies on tape for me to say that Kansas City or anybody that high should take him. He‟s more of a 20-32 (overall pick player). I’ve said that based on watching six of his games. I’m going to watch the rest of them, but there are just so many inconsistencies with both Geno Smith and the entire quarterback class that I trouble banging the table for any of them.”
NFL Network’s Akbar Gbaja-Biamila:
“I came in here not very sure if Geno Smith should be the No. 1 pick, and that’s just because when you think about a franchise quarterback, there’s a certain image. But he blew me away with his athleticism. He’s a guy who, when you watch film, his athleticism doesn’t show up that well. For him to put up a couple good 40 times, shows he’s a quarterback you can do multiple things with.”
ESPN’s John Clayton:
“On Sunday, the hope of the NFL was for the quarterbacks to step up and claim top-10 draft spots. That didn’t happen. Geno Smith of West Virginia probably did the best of the quarterbacks who worked out, but he didn’t put on a show. When he did a seven-step drop, he had a hop in his footwork that took away from his throws. He wasn’t consistently great, but he showed a strong arm and a lot of promise. That’s the problem with the quarterbacks in this draft class. They continue to prove consistently inconsistent. …
“So where does that leave teams such as Arizona, Kansas City and others in need of quarterbacks? Sunday’s quarterback show could re-open some trade thoughts. It might make the Chiefs more willing to look into a trade for Alex Smith. It might prompt teams such as Jacksonville and the New York Jets investigate the availability of Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn. It also showed that the Bills and Eagles probably made the right moves in sticking with most of last year’s quarterbacks.”
SportsRadio 810 Kansas City’s TJ Carpenter:
“Andy Reid and John Dorsey have been adamant the philosophy of best available player will be followed to the letter of its intent in Kansas City. Even if it means not drafting a quarterback number one overall.
“(Still) I believe the Chiefs’ thinking after watching the quarterbacks throw on Sunday is that Geno Smith out of West Virginia is their primary target at this point. His interview went extremely well and the Chiefs really liked what they saw in workouts and throwing drills at the combine.”
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Maycock:
“You’ve heard me say a thousand times probably: fast guys run fast, and it’s not a story. So I expected (Austin) to run fast. But what it does for him is that worst-case to me, he’s a second-round pick. Worst case. If you buy into him as a route runner and toughness, and if you can get him enough touches every game for him, he might be a first-round pick. The NFL has evolved into more and more of a college look — spread the field, get the football in the playmakers’ hands, and that’s what he is. He’s a playmaker, he’s a mismatch. I can only imagine being a nickel [back] or a safety and having to line up across from him in a slot knowing he runs a 4.35, knowing how quick he is. He’s really a difficult matchup and that’s what this league is. So I think all that time does is just endorses exactly what we thought of him on tape.”
NFL Network’s Michael Irvin:
“Sometimes you see speed and it doesn’t convert to football. But Tavon Austin, his speed converts to football in an incredible way.”
ESPN draft analyst Kevin Weidl:
“I think Austin can come in and immediately contribute on special teams as a returner, be that as a fourth or fifth receiver in the slot, and even line up in the backfield. For a creative offensive coordinator I think Austin’s an absolute dream. I think (Sunday) did nothing short of lock down a first-round grade come April.”
ESPN’s John Clayton:
“According to NFL Network times, 30 of the 34 wide receivers who ran 40s clocked 4.5 or better. When the official times came in, 15 were credited with 4.5 times or better, which was still impressive. The big winner was West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, who not only ran a blistering 4.34, but he caught the ball very well. Austin might have sprinted his way to the bottom of the first round.”
NFL Network’s Mike Maycock:
“Stedman Bailey is really a good football player. There are questions about his size. How fast is he? He’s probably a 4.5 or whatever he is. What I see is an instinctive, smart receiver that catches (the ball). He’s a natural hands-catcher, and because (Tavon) Austin and Geno Smith get all of the attention, he kind of fell into the background. But if you watch him in the red zone on tape and his understanding and knowledge of route running and defenses, he‟s one of the more smarter and instinctive receivers in this draft. I‟d be surprised if he gets out of the third round.”