Smith, receivers show off for scouts at West Virginia pro day

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- If Geno Smith turns out to be a first-round NFL draft pick, count Thursday's workout in the comforts of his college practice facility with old friends another reason for his ascent.

Smith completed 60 of 64 passes at West Virginia's pro day in front of personnel from 29 of 32 NFL teams, showcasing a variety of passes with accuracy and impressive zip.

At least two NFL head coaches were present, including Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley.

Smith and his top receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey were the main attraction for workouts and private meetings which stretched from 8:30 a.m. into early afternoon.

Smith threw from under center and in the shotgun, hit some deep balls, short screens, fades and several on the move. Workouts were open to the media.

"Coming out of the combine I guess people wanted to see me just continue to improve on my footwork," said Smith, who has been training with former quarterback Chris Weinke, who ran the quarterback drills. "They haven't seen much of me under center. ... I just wanted to show I was able to do a multitude of drops, hit a bunch of different route patterns and different areas of the field, be accurate, be able to move my feet, set up, do some things on the run.

"Just exhibit everything you would want to see from a quarterback on a pro day."

Smith met with the Jaguars for more than an hour after his workout before speaking with media and said he expects to have 10 to 12 more meetings before the April draft.

He said he had a private workout Monday with the Philadelphia Eagles that went well and has something set up with the Buffalo Bills March 22.

"The scouts don't need to see me throw," said Smith. "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. ... I 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.

"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."

Bailey and Austin had strong workouts.

Austin, who could also be a first-round pick, said he's at 174 pounds since the NFL combine and this pro day was more relaxed and "kind of fun. There was more pressure at the combine."

Bailey, projected by most analysts to be a second- or third-round pick, said it was comforting to play a little catch again with Smith, teammates since high school.

"I've been catching balls from Geno all my life," said Bailey. "Just to be back here in our hometown, Morgantown, and with all the guys that were there was a very good feeling. I was able to look around and just be calm cause I'm here with my boys."

Bailey said he and Austin will do a private workout at West Virginia with the Carolina Panthers today.

One receiver who had a surprisingly strong pro day was little used receiver Ryan Nehlen, the grandson of former coach Don Nehlen.

Nehlen ran 4.53 in the 40-yard dash and ranked best in the 20-yard shuttle (4.12 seconds), the 60-yard shuttle (11.18), was tops with a 39-inch vertical leap and was the only player to break 11 feet in the broad jump (11-1).

"The publicity surrounding this event was special for guys like me," said Nehlen.

Smith, Bailey and Austin did no events other than the throwing drills.

Smith also threw to J.D. Woods, Shawne Alston, Ryan Clarke and a total of 16 seniors worked out on everything from the broad jump to the bench press.

In the afternoon former quarterback Pat White worked out in his comeback bid, but his portion was closed to the media.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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