The Buffalo Bills took another up-close look at University of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith on Friday as part of their preparation for next month’s NFL Draft.
Smith is a 6-foot-2, 218-pounder who passed for 11,662 yards and 98 touchdowns in his four-year college career. He is shaping up as one of the most hotly debated prospects in the draft.
Smith conducted an on-campus workout in Morgantown, W.V., last week that was attended by representatives of 28 of the NFL’s 32 teams, Buffalo included. He held a private on-campus workout two weeks ago for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bills were back at West Virginia on Friday, and Smith has another session upcoming with the Cleveland Browns.
Some draft experts think Smith is worthy of a top-10 pick in the draft. Others don’t.
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski raved last week about Smith’s Pro Day workout, at which he completed 60 of 64 passes for NFL scouts.
“I think he’s a guy that is going to play in this league for 10 to 12 years and be a prototypical pocket passer,” Jaworski told Philadelphia radio station WPEN-FM after the workout. “I think Geno sees the game very well. ... He’s got a pretty good understanding of coverages, good understanding of protections.”
NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell has concerns about Smith’s ability to convert his success from college to the pros.
“I think there’s a term I’ve heard which I like, and it’s slow eyes,” Cosell said on the NFL Network. “One thing about Geno Smith, and you see it consistently, is that when throws are there that are clearly defined and the ball needs to come out on time with anticipation, I think he has a tendency to be late with those throws. I think in the NFL where the coverage is tighter, the defense is quicker, you have to be an anticipation thrower.”
“With Geno Smith, I see flashes of everything you want in a top-10 quarterback,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock told reporters last month at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I see a lot more inconsistency though than I see those flashes. So he, to me, there is a real risk-reward scenario there.”
The Bills, in dire need of a young quarterback, have the eighth overall pick. Teams ahead of them in the draft that also have an obvious need at QB include Jacksonville at No. 2, Philadelphia at No. 4, Arizona at No. 7 and perhaps the Browns at No. 6.
Other quarterback options include Southern Cal’s Matt Barkley, Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, and Florida State’s E.J. Manuel.
Pro Day workouts are tightly scripted sessions that are organized by the college programs. Teams conduct private practice sessions because they can dictate the kind of passes and the order of throws the quarterback makes.
The fact a team conducts a private workout with a prospect doesn’t necessarily signal a strong desire to draft a player. It’s not uncommon for a team to draft a player without a private workout or without having the player visit its facility.
Each NFL team is allowed to bring 30 draft-eligible players to its headquarters. Private workouts are not held at the team’s facility and don’t count toward the 30-player total. On visits to team headquarters, teams only can administer written tests and put players through interviews, medical evaluations and film study. A team can work out as many players as it wants on college campuses.