Smith, Austin In Kiper Discussion

Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. discusses a couple of possible landing spots for WVU quarterback Geno Smith, and expresses enthusiasm for the skill set of Tavon Austin.

Given the hullabaloo generated by the "analysis" of Geno Smith by Pro Football Weekly over the past couple of days, it's not a surprise that the Mountaineer alum is an even hotter topic of discussion as the days to the draft (Apr. 25-27) dwindle. Smith has been under the microscope from all angles as the standard-bearer at quarterback in this year's draft, and has been slotted at numerous spots in nearly as many mock drafts over the past few weeks.

Currently, Buffalo, Philadelphia and the New York Jets all seem to be possibilities for the player that shattered West Virginia's all time passing records, and Kiper discussed two of those locations in regards to Smith's draft prospects.

"It's going to be the Geno Smith discussion," Kiper said of the Eagles, who currently hold the #4 pick. "Obviously [with] a new coach, do you bring in your new quarterback with the new coach and go that route when you're in a division with Romo and Eli and RG3?"

Kiper also sees a scenario where the Eagles could look to bolster their offensive line, then go after a quaterback in the second round, when Smith would presumably be gone. In that instance, names such as Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib or E.J. Manuel come into play.

"It depends on the first round pick. That dictates what they do in Round 2. You take Geno Smith, you're not taking an E.J. Manuel. You take Geno Smith, then you're probably looking at an offensive tackle in the second round."

Smith, of course would love to have some offensive linemen int he draft along with him, especially if he goes to a team where he has the chance to compete for the starting job.

Tavon Austin, who has moved steadily up the draft charts with excellent showings at the NFL Combine and at West Virginia's Pro Day, drew praise from Kiper.

"Well, he's a phenomenal player. I saw him in high school here at Dunbar in Baltimore, and he was outstanding," Kiper said. "He was a man among boys. He's just tremendously electrifying, great quickness. He doesn't break tackles, he's only 5'8½", 5'9", and yet try to get a handle on him to tackle him, so the first thing you have to do is corral him.

"He's great kid, very businesslike in his approach, serious about his business. You know, you think about the slot receivers, guys like Welker and Amendola and Davone Bess, they all went undrafted."

Austin's ability on the field, which often gets lost in the over-analysis of combines and workouts in shorts, has him slotted in the bottom half of the first round, according to Kiper.

"This kid is going to be drafted in the top 16. I think the furthest I could see him getting down to is 23 to Minnesota. Sixteen to St. Louis is where I have him going. You could see him in the mix for Carolina, Tampa. A lot of teams could be in the mix for him, but I think St. Louis will be a good fit at 16.

"I think Tavon is going to have a heck of a career," he continued. "I think he's just an electrifying, dynamic player. You could say he's overdrafted because this draft doesn't have elite guys in the top 10, but in this NFL, in the era we're in in the NFL, his skill set transitions and translates tremendously well. Now, 20 years ago it might have been a different ballgame, and the three guys that are dominating obviously are putting up big numbers at the slot receiver position went undrafted, but that certainly doesn't affect Tavon Austin. He's a guaranteed first round draft choice and probably no later than pick 16."

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