In the NFL, that doesn't mean teams fret about how Smith treats the less fortunate, or whether he cheats on his taxes. "Character" is a nebulous area that includes work ethic, maturity, likability and being smart enough to avoid arrest.
There are people who would grade Smith 0-for-4. He has been arrested for underage drinking, and has flunked drug tests. While it's true that opponents seldom threw at him, it's also true that he didn't make plays when he had rare chances to do so this past season, leading some scouts to question his focus. But Smith has been on a "character-addressing" campaign at least since the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and he feels he is making progress.
In a recent interview with the National Football Post, Smith reiterated what he'd said at the combine.
"Every team has questions about my character. They want to know about the red flags, not about if I can play or not," he said. "They tell me they like me physically. It kind of sucks that everyone wants to talk about the character issues . . . I've learned that maturity is everything. When you're out in public, everybody is going to see you and you need to put out a good image. The decisions I make are going to affect me and my team."
The Eagles are one of a dozen teams who flew in Smith for a visit after the combine.
"We wanted to make sure we know him," Roseman said. He added that Smith was "a good guy to talk to. He's got good energy."
Asked if the Eagles' inquiries satisfied concerns about Smith's character, Roseman said the team prefers "to keep as much of that internal as possible."
In the National Football Post interview, Smith said: "I really enjoyed Philly. I liked meeting with the coaches. They told me to be yourself. They said, 'We don't think you're a bad person, we want to get to know you.' Andy Reid seems like he'll get on you if you make a mistake, but was real nice."
In other such situations, the Eagles have talked to nearly everyone they can find from a player's past. If they talked to Colorado defensive coordinator Greg Brown, they got a very positive review. Brown was Smith's secondary coach for 3 years before leaving for a season to coach at Arizona, then returning in December.
"The guy can play," Brown said. "He did what we wanted him to on the field, he's got tremendous athletic skills, he's got height, speed, reach, ability to play bump-and-run. He was great in the classroom. He studied football, showed up on time, did the right things and played hard."
NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell likens Smith to Jets shutdown corner Darrelle Revis, and Cosell goes so far as to rank Smith ahead of Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara, the two corners in this draft who are considered top-10 picks. Other observers liken Smith to Chris McAlister, the former Ravens corner who made three Pro Bowls but also ran into off-the-field troubles.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock agrees that Smith is a top-10 talent but adds that he "comes with a buyer-beware caution."
For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.
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