Jerome Smith attended the NFL Combine over the weekend, participating in drills in front of professional coaches and general managers as he looks to continue his football career.
"It was definitely a once in a lifetime thing," Smith said. "Something that a lot of people don't get the opportunity to do. Of course I would have hoped that I could perform a little bit better. But anybody that knows the game knows that some of that stuff isn't about playing football.
"That stuff is simply a competition and a test. I didn't do too hot but overall, it can't take away from the experience I had. I was right in front of some coaches that I grew up watching. I got to be around some NFL people that didn't get a chance to see me on TV all the time."
Smith also spend time speaking with coaches and reflecting on his performance during the drills at the combine.
"I had a handful of coaches that were telling me the most important things to work on," Smith said. "They said to just catch the ball well. To show that I can catch the ball better than people think. The 40 drill, of course anyone that's seen me play knows I play a little bit faster than that. They told me not to really worry about that. They'll have their own tests on March 26th when I have a pro day in Syracuse."
Throughout the process, a few teams have been in more contact than others.
"Yeah I've got a nice little group," Smith said. "I've got about four or five teams that I've talked to a little bit more. So it's been good."
Smith is unable to say who those teams are at this time. He did, however, enjoy his time speaking with different teams.
"It's been really great," Smith said. "To be able to talk to people that have actually watched film on you and have the opportunity to ask questions about the plays we ran, what's my favorite play, assess my strengths and weaknesses. It's been pretty good."
During interviews at the combine, teams ask very strange questions at times. Smith got to experience that first hand.
"I was asked to name the most ways to use a paperclip in a minute," Smith said. "I said a knife, a hair comb, a back scratcher, you could pick your teeth with it, clean your nose. They just want to make you think a little bit. Think outside the box. It's probably easy for some guys to just say ‘I don't know,' after you draw a blank. But the teams want you to keep thinking and keep going after the question."
Smith is confident in his performance during the interview sessions at the combine. During the physical drills, however, he did not perform as he had hoped. He ran a 4.84 in the 40-yard dash and had 14 reps in the bench press.
Now, he is focused on improving those numbers to impress teams during his Syracuse pro day.
"I'm definitely going to keep working on catching the ball," Smith said. "I know for a fact that my 40-time will go down. I'll probably do a little better on the bench. I'm getting further away from the season so I'm pretty healthy.
"I'm looking at 20 (reps on the bench press) and at least a 4.5 (in the 40). That would probably get a lot of people out of their seat. That's what I'm trying to get."
After his pro day, Smith will look towards the NFL Draft. He is hopeful that he will find a landing spot by the time the seven rounds are completed.
"I'm definitely hoping for the best and preparing for the worst," Smith said. "Any opportunity I get will be good."