MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Pro day workouts typically provide quarterbacks with conditions both comfortable and ideal for impressing NFL onlookers, and Geno Smith took advantage Thursday.
West Virginia’s career passing leader completed 60-of-64 scripted throws, seemingly improving upon the solid performance he gave at last month’s NFL Combine.
“Coming out of the combine, I guess people wanted to to see me continue to improve on my footwork, and they hadn’t seen much of me under center,” Smith said. “I just wanted to show that I could do a multitude of drops and hit a bunch of different route patterns in different areas of the field.
“There’s always room for improvement, but when I look back on throws that I made, they were accurate, didn;’t have receivers slowing down and I had some good zip on the ball. I feel like I exhibited everything that coaches and GMs would want to see from me.”
Smith worked out privately for the Eagles on Monday in Morgantown, and he said he expects similar evaluation sessions with up to 10 more teams, including the Buffalo Bills on March 22.
“Every team has told me I’ve been impressive,” Smith said. “Teams have been having high remarks and saying good things about me. I guess we’ll see on draft day where that goes.”
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Smith seems assured to be a top-10 pick, whether he goes at to No. 2 Jacksonville, No. 3 Oakland, No. 4 Philadelphia, No. 7 Arizona or No. 8 Buffalo.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who has said for several weeks that NFL teams are split on Smith’s ability to become a franchise quarterback, left WVU’s pro day more impressed.
“I loved what I saw from Geno Smith,” Mayock said. “His footwork looked like it had been cleaned up, I thought the kid ripped it.
“Is he a top-10 talent? Absolutely. Is he going to go in the top 10? I don’t know yet.”
During his college career, Smith fought the label of dual-threat quarterback, convinced his development as a pocket passer was key to NFL evaluators. But ironically, following the success of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, various NFL clubs have inquired about Smith’s affinity for running.
“I loved what I saw from Geno Smith. His footwork looked like it had been cleaned up. I thought the kid ripped it. Is he a top-10 talent? Absolutely. Is he going to go in the top 10? I don’t know yet.” — Mike Mayock, NFL Network draft analyst
“They want to know have I ran the read option, and am I willing to do so,” he said. “I don’t have one strength — I have many strengths, and I think I can fit into any system.”
The only other quarterback generating first-round buzz is USC’s Matt Barkley, so Smith appears primed to be the first QB selected when the draft begins April 25. Until then, the process dictates a frenzy of meetings and workouts with NFL , with Smith trying to read their feedback as he would a free safety.
“They all are impressed, and I do believe I have a really good skill set,” he said. “I can spin the ball with the best of them. It’s not an issue of whether I can make all the throws.”
BAILEY NOT BACKING DOWN
Mayock projected WVU’s Stedman Bailey as a third-round pick who would be a capable No. 2 receiver for many NFL teams. However, not all the mock drafts match Bailey’s expectations — not after the Biletnikoff finalist caught 210 passes and 41 touchdowns during three college seasons.
“When I’m listing to the media — like ESPN and other networks and stuff — and they don’t have me ranked as high as I feel that they should, it just puts a chip on my shoulder,” Bailey said. “It makes me want to to work harder and prove people wrong.”
MADSEN LIKES GAB
It’s no stunner that center Joe Madsen, a quote machine during his four seasons at West Virginia, has enjoyed the interview process with NFL clubs.
“I feel like I did well in the talking aspect, like conversating with the coaches, going over plays and testing my football knowledge.”
AUSTIN HAS HARVIN SHAKE
Mayock labeled Tavon Austin the most dynamic player in the draft, and it’s a sentiment shared by other analysts. That’s one reason Austin’s name surfaces for any team needing a playmaker in the slot.
Since Percy Harvin was dealt from the Vikings to the Seahawks, the comparisons have become inevitable.
“(Harvin) was a player I always watched going to college,” Austin said. “He’s a similar type player. Now I’ve just got to do the same things he did in the league.”
Shawne Alston hopes an NFL team in need of a situational power back will give him a shot. After dropping 18 pounds since New Years, he was pleased to post a 4.64-second 40 time on Thursday.
“I think everybody knows that I’m not a breakaway guy,” Alston said. “As long as I did an average 40, the film shows off my power and what type of runner I am. So I don’t think I had to go out there and wow anybody with my speed, but just show my improvement and the work I’ve put in.”