Kelly: Scouting of Geno Smith wasn't a smoke screen

Posted: May 02, 2013

The Eagles twice passed on Geno Smith, and it's reasonable to wonder whether their interest in the West Virginia quarterback was ever that significant. This topic was debated leading up to the draft, and intrigue was added when owner Jeffrey Lurie accompanied coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman on a personal scouting visit to West Virginia.

"First off, it wasn't a smoke screen," Kelly said Tuesday morning on WIP-FM (94.1). "We were as thorough with Geno as anyone else with our evaluation. How it happened was we were supposed to have a meeting scheduled that day with Jeffrey in the building on a couple things. And we weren't supposed to meet until the afternoon because we were going to see Geno, and it was an hour away by plane. And he said, 'Hey, I'll go with you guys.' "

In March, Lurie said his involvement was because the Eagles were drafting so high and that it was a "common thing." He said it was not something he expected to do in the future but he did so this time because it was "an important pick."

Kelly said Tuesday that Lurie's presence on the trip was "coincidence" and that vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and quarterback coach Bill Lazor were also on the trip.

"It's just about doing your due diligence and working," Kelly said. "And if it comes down to work ethic, I know we're going to leave no stone unturned and make evaluations of who [the players] are."

Still, the draft is like high-stakes poker, and it's sometimes in a team's interest to mislead the other 31 teams. But Kelly said he didn't see the West Virginia trip in that light.

"Is it a smoke screen to other people? I think that intrigue and that part of it, I kind of get a kick out of," Kelly said. "We don't have enough time to go out there and say, 'Hey, let's bluff the other 31 teams in the league by going to do this.' If we are, we're wasting our time."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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