OBR guest columnist Will Spencer spoke with CB Sean Smith recently. Smith has been of interest to the Browns, rating a workout. He is the fifth-highest rated corner in this year's draft, according to Scout.com's Chris Steuber.
Spencer: Are you happy the process is finally winding down?
Smith: Yeah, exactly. I can't wait for the draft to get over with.
Spencer: What's been the toughest part of the draft process for you?
Smith: This part right here. There's nothing else you can do to prove yourself to an NFL team. You've just gotta sit back and workout and countdown the days until the draft.
Spencer: During your private workouts and visits, where there any particular teams that seemed to give you a closer look than others?
Smith: They were all pretty similar. You go in and meet the coach and the coaching staff. It just gives them a chance to get to know you for who you are and get to know your personality. Things went very well with every team I visited. I definitely impressed people with my presence and my maturity, because I know that was a question because I am a junior, so they were questions about my maturity level. I just went to every team and presented myself the best way I possibly could and try to come back with positive feedback.
Spencer: Are there any teams showing a bit more interest than others?
Smith: I wouldn't say that one team showed more interest than others. Obviously by bringing me there, they're interested in me to some extent. So I went there and was treated very well by everybody. Nice dinner, nice conversation and they've said a lot of good things about me.
Spencer: Is it an important goal of yours to be a first round draft pick?
Smith: I would be lying to you if say that. Everyone would like to go first round. I kind of take a more realistic approach to this and understand that coming out, there's always a possibility that you're not gonna go the first round and you have to be prepared to go in the 2nd or 3rd or 4th or what not. So I tried to definitely turn some heads at the combine, pro days and all these interviews, getting up on the chalk board and increasing my 40 time; doing whatever I can to get drafted as high as possible.
With my value and talent with my height/weight/speed ratio, I'm definitely an intriguing player in this year's draft. Going in the first round, that'd be the ultimate goal of mine. Obviously getting drafted is just as important but to be able to go first round or even first day at that, it'd be a tremendous success for me.
Spencer: Were there any additional challenges coming from a school that wasn't in the national spotlight as much as other programs?
Smith: I understand that we didn't get the publicity that the other major conferences do, so you just have to go out there and put on the tape. In this day with NFL teams, if you're good, they're gonna find you. That's why last year, Leodis McKelvin of Troy, I think he was the first corner taken. As long as you go out there and prove yourself, the NFL is gonna find you.
Initially, you might not get that big hype in pre-draft talk. They're always looking for the big names at first, but as teams go through the film and looking at and analyzing talent, that's when the guys from the smaller schools that didn't get looked at much at first start to come out, like myself. So you just wanna make sure that whenever your film is put on that you're playing with the kind of talent and effort that matches or exceeds the talent of the other cornerbacks coming out.
Spencer: What's your favorite part of the game?
Smith: Definitely competing. You're playing against some of the best of the best at their position or a group of guys that you work hard with and you've invested a lot of time with. And when you go out there on game day, that's the most exciting part to me.
Spencer: Any current NFL players you'd compare your playing style to?
Smith: I'm definitely a combination of Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders and Antonio Cromartie. You combine those two guys and I'm definitely somewhere in there. Cromartie has great ball skills and the way he goes up for the ball, it's second to none in the NFL. Then you've got Nnamdi, he's a tall guy like myself but definitely a technician and can definitely shut down a whole side of the field. So I just look at those two and how they do it as taller cornerbacks and it helps me out.
Spencer: Because of your size, have teams talked to you about playing safety?
Smith: Definitely. I think that was the biggest talk I had with teams. Being as big as I am, safety is sometimes the first word that comes out of their mouth. After the combine whenever I ran a 4.5 in that range, I didn't really prove to teams that I would only play safety.
There were still some questions, but at the pro day, I ran faster with a 4.43 40. I definitely showed teams that I'm able to play my position (cornerback). As for the talk, it is still there. I guess it all depends on how well I come in and perform at the corner position, but it definitely wouldn't be a hard transition for me since I already have the size and speed to do it.
Spencer: Do you think the transition to the NFL will be tougher from a mental or physical stand point?
Smith: Definitely mental. As far as the physical part goes, I'm a 6'3, 210 corner right now and that alone gives me an advantage over other defensive backs. But it's definitely gonna be mental. You have to be able to go out there and compete and earn the respect of not only the coaches but your fellow team mates. You definitely wouldn't want to go into mini-camp slacking in any type of way because you need to earn that trust from your team mates. You've got so much to learn your whole rookie year...there's just so much going on in your rookie year.
Spencer: Which WR match up was the toughest challenge for you throughout your college career?
Smith: It would have to be Julio Jones in the bowl game. You look at film of that guy and he doesn't look like a freshman with the way he plays and his physical presence. He'll catch a small hitch and turn it into a 30-40 yard gain. That was something we had to game plan on and I had to watch extra film on. The guy was like Terrell Owens in college. When I played him, he was definitely stronger than I thought he was and was very competitive. True, he didn't catch anything but a hitch on me, but he definitely gave me a run for my money as far as running routes and covering the guy. It wasn't an easy task.
Spencer: What was your major at Utah?
Smith: Mass communications.
Spencer: If you weren't playing football, what would you be doing?
Smith: Something concerning my education in mass communications. Whether that'd be broadcasting or working in video production.
Spencer: Any draft day plans?
Smith: I'll be in Pasadena California.
Spencer: If there was one thing that you could let fans or NFL teams know about you as a player or as a person before draft day, what would that be?
Smith: That's a tough one. I haven't heard that one before. I guess I would say that I'm more than just a physical specimen. You'd definitely be getting someone that's a competitor and more than that, a great person with a great personality. I don't think that people look at off the field stuff as much as they do on the field. Character is really big in this league. I already have things set up for off the field events with kids and giving back to my community back home. So I think I'm just an overall great person to add to a team.
Spencer: Thanks a lot for taking your time out for me and best of luck on draft day!