|ESPN.com: NFL Draft 2013||[Print without images]|
Geno Smith defended himself against a scouting report that has called his skills into question, telling USA Today Sports, "it's untrue in all things," while his former quarterbacks coach said Smith can "start in the NFL from day one."
Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki delivered a scathing assessment of Smith's skills this week, writing that the West Virginia quarterback is "not a student of the game," "does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire," is "not committed or focused" and "cannot handle hard coaching."
"A cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks, Smith is a gimmick, overhyped product of the system lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room. Will be overdrafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities," Nawrocki also wrote.
Nawrocki's scouting report has stirred debate much like a critical report he wrote about Cam Newton before he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 draft.
Smith said he heard about the scouting report when his former quarterbacks coach at West Virginia, Jake Spavital, called him to talk about it.
Spavital, now Johnny Manziel's quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M, told USA Today that he was "laughing" with Smith when discussing the report and told the quarterback, "Welcome to the business."
Spavital called Smith, who led the nation with 42 touchdown passes this past season, a "dream come true for a coach."
"I thought he was one of the hardest-working quarterbacks I've ever been around," he told USA Today. "You have people who are about 'What can football do for me?' Geno is about 'What I can do for football?' If you take the game away from him, I think he dies."
Former West Virginia center and Joe Madsen called the scouting report an "April Fool's joke" in an interview Wednesday with 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
"Geno was the first one; me, him and the other seniors who were there that year were the first ones on everybody. To say that he doesn't motivate a team, I mean, the guy who wrote that probably wasn't there. He was never at the practices."
Smith visited the Kansas City Chiefs, who own the No. 1 overall pick, on Monday and Tuesday. He visited the Philadelphia Eagles, who own the No. 4 overall selection, on Wednesday.
All but three teams attended his pro day on March 14, when Smith completed 60 of 64 passes.
A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Smith is one of 19 players invited by the NFL to attend the draft, scheduled to be held April 25-27 in New York.
The other players invited to attend, according to the source, are: Texas A&M offensive tackle, Luke Joeckel, Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, Alabama guard Chance Warmack, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson, BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher, Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes, West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, SMU defensive end Margus Hunt, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.