No more workouts, travel
Former Missouri defensive end Justin Smith is expected to be a top-10 pick in the 2001 NFL Draft on April 21. Smith recorded 22 1/2 sacks and 53 tackles for a loss in his three years in Columbia. This is the ninth in a series of Draft Diaries from Smith. Check back weekly for another NFL Draft Diary from him at CNNSI.com.
I'm finally done with visits, having gone to Atlanta last weekend, and Arizona and Green Bay during the week. I'm just glad to be done with them and have a second to catch my breath. I'm not a big traveler, I don't like sitting in airports, but you've got to do it. I thought it was a pretty good process, and if they're going to spend a lot of money me like that, I'm certainly not going to complain.
I went out to Arizona late Monday night. It was pretty late when I got in and I went straight to the hotel. The next day I took a physical and went to their facility. Then I went to dinner with Dave McGinnis, their head coach and their D-line coach, then went back home next day.
I think I would fit well in Arizona. I know their main need is a pass-rushing guy who can also stop the run. You need both of those, and I think I could bring both those things to them. I also liked the climate; I thought that was pretty cool.
I arrived in Green Bay around 3:30 or 4 on Thursday. There, I met with their D-line coach and toured their facility. Around 6 o'clock, we went to dinner and hung out a little after that. I arrived home early Friday morning.
At Green Bay, I really liked the atmosphere. You can tell everybody is really excited about the team, and the whole town pretty much rallies around the team. I think I'd fit into their system well. They're an attacking defense, they get after the quarterback well. And I've always lived in a small town, so that wouldn't be that big an adjustment.
Neither team really said how I'd fit into their defense personnel-wise, they just said they like my intensity and hard play. A lot of people think I might end up in Arizona, but they really just said how you never know how the draft will end up, but they'd like to have me.
I'm not really worrying about where I might end up. What's the point? There's nothing I can do about it now. I'm just waiting it out now -- I can't control it. I'll hang out for a couple more days, get some more workouts in. Then I leave to go to New York on Thursday -- it will be here before I know it! I think next week I'll be excited about it. But for now I'll just take a deep breath and be glad I'm not getting on any planes for a few days.
Do you ever come in contact with any of the other draftees? If so, do you make conversation and what is the conversation like due to the competition? -- Jason Walden, Minneapolis
Down in Atlanta, they had about 20 of us there. They were all pretty much first-round guys. We're all real friendly to each other. We know each other from other functions, like the Playboy All-America team thing last year. We all know each other, we've met two or three times before, and we wish each other luck.
Many of us here in Arizona are hoping the Cards draft you. I think the Cards are going to be something special in the next few years. How would you like to be a big part of turning a perennial loser into a powerhouse? You'd go down in history. -- Eric Hammel, Phoenix
That'd be a great opportunity. They're definitely one or two guys away from breaking it loose. It'd be fun and exciting not just for me but for the town and everybody involved if that happened.
Obviously, the NFL is quite a bit different than the college game. What adjustments will you have to make at your position on the pro level? -- Mike Hall, Fulton, Mo.
I really don't expect too many. I really think it's more the business aspect. You've got more free time, you've got to be more responsible. And the speed of the game, that may be the biggest adjustment.
I have seen many mock drafts on the Internet, many of which have you being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Have you visited the Bengals and could you give me your feelings on possibly winding up with the Bengals? -- Brian Williams, Franklin Furnace, Ohio
I didn't visit them but they came down and visited me for a workout. Their defensive line coach, Tim Krumrie, worked me out. He's a great guy and I'd love to get the opportunity to play for them.
It seems that you're a humble and non-materialistic person. If treated right by the franchise, would you prefer to play your entire career for the team that drafts you? -- Anonymous, Michigan
Yeah, definitely. If they show that amount of trust up front, I'd like to stay and play for that organization, not bail and play for a team with a better offer.
Who do you compare yourself to in the NFL, past or present? I hope you get drafted by the Packers. You're the man. Good luck! -- Ron Haulotte, Peshtigo, Wis.
I really don't compare myself to anybody because I really haven't watched enough NFL players to make a comparison. I play like me -- that's all I can say.
I followed your draft diaries and I haven't heard anything about your academic future. How close are you to your degree? If you haven't completed your degree do you plan on getting your degree in the future? -- Tom Daniels, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan
I'm about a year away, and I plan on finishing it up as soon as I can.