Former Louisville safety Hakeem Smith recently competed in the school’s Pro Day in front of several NFL personnel. (Special Photo)
The Pro Day at Louisville turned into a made-for-TV event with standout quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the main attraction.
But the attention that the potential first-round draftee brought surely helped the other 14 former Cardinals players that took part in the one-day event.
A collection of NFL head coaches, scouts and general managers were among the ones attending the scouting session workout held at the school’s indoor facility.
Former Riverdale standout and Louisville safety Hakeem Smith was among the players trying to impress the NFL personnel.
“I think I did pretty good,” Smith said earlier this week via cellphone from Louisville. “As always, you know you can do a little better. All things considered, I was pretty pleased.”
Smith, who is considered a late-round draft prospect by draft analyst, said he did well in the agility and strength test. He benched 225 pounds 25 times and had a 37 1/2 vertical leap.
While most of the scouts were there to get a closer look at Bridgewater, Smith said his teammates benefited from the the well-attended session.
More than 100 people were on hand for Louisville’s Pro Day, according to NFL Network, including six NFL head coaches. Among the other players that were heavily watched was Smith and defensive back mate Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith and defensive end Marcus Smith.
“Teddy brought a lot of attention to the Pro Day,” Smith said. “For some of the guys, they are hoping with all those NFL people there that they caught the eye of somebody. It was a big day for us.”
Smith played in the East-West Shrine Game in January, but did not garner an invite to the prestigious NFL Scouting Combine. He said that was his motivation going into the Pro Day.
“I can’t dwell on the past,” Smith said. “I was a little upset that I didn’t get an invite. I wanted to use Pro Day as my combine. Now, I’m just waiting on to see what teams are interested. I’m going back to work to continue to get better.”
Smith was a four-year starter at the strong safety position for the Louisville Cardinals and a four-time All-Big East selection. At 6-feet, 185 pounds, Smith is a bit undersized as a strong safety prospect, but he proved at Louisville that he can be a physical defensive back and excel playing up in the box against the run.
At Louisville, Smith finished as one of the top tacklers on the Cardinals’ defense in each of his four seasons as a starter, including leading the team in tackles with 88 in his first year in 2010. Smith is a physical safety who is also a reliable defensive back in coverage.
“My strength is getting to the ball,” said Smith, who has a sports administration degree. “I’m reliable and consistent as a safety. I take pride in being the last man back and not letting players get behind me and make plays. I’m also a good open field tackler. I can be physical on the field. I’d say overall I’m a balanced safety. I’m not necessarily a big hitter, but I can play physical and do a little bit of everything at the position.”