NEW YORK -- Twenty-four players were invited to attend the NFL Draft that begins tonight at Radio City Music Hall. Three have tried to stop the two West Virginia players who could hear their names called in tonight's first round.
LSU's Eric Reid and Barkevious Mingo and Texas' Kenny Vaccaro expect Geno Smith and Tavon Austin to do in the NFL what they witnessed in college.
"Tavon is probably the most electric player I played against," said Mingo, a defensive end who was 2-0 against WVU in 2010-11.
"I can't even explain it. And Geno just keeps making plays. I don't think he missed that many in the (2011) game we played against him.
"There are just not a lot of people who can bring the ability he has. He sat back in the pocket and he was well-protected, so he didn't have to move that much, but I've seen that if you pressure him, he can get out of the pocket and make plays with his feet."
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Austin is commonly considered a certain first-round pick in the three-day event at Radio City Music Hall that begins at 8 p.m. on ESPN and NFL Network.
Most projections have him in the middle of the first round, ranging from just outside the top 10 to the low teens. There are some who believe he's a top 10 pick, though.
"Speed kills," said Reid, a safety named first-team All-America in 2012 by the American Football Coaches Association and the Football Writers' Association of America. "That's what the NFL wants at the next level - receivers with speed and good hands who can pick up yards after the catch. That's one of Tavon's best attributes because he's so fast."
Smith's fate is far more uncertain. His projections range from the top five of the first round to the top five of the second round. Those who have criticized the quality of the group of quarterbacks available this season have seemingly singled in on Smith. His mechanics, leadership and performances in adverse weather have been used against him.
His peers believe outsiders are missing something more important. Vaccaro said he's played in the Big 12 against four first-round quarterbacks: Baylor's Robert Griffin III, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford. He believes Smith is "right up there with each of them."
"What I like about Geno was the feeling I got when he was under center," Vaccaro said. "He had everything under control. He had that poise and that leadership that I felt because I was right there playing the nickel spot. I was in the box and we were eye to eye.