Harvey, Smith on the clock
HUNTINGTON -- In the past few months, Mario Harvey has visited with four NFL teams and has taken phone calls from several others.
When he tells them about his most unique skill, almost all of them respond in the same way.
"What? What? Nah, nah."
"Seriously, they do," Harvey said. "It's kind of funny."
Five-foot-11, 257-pounds. Sub 4.50-second 40-yard dash time.
If the former Marshall University standout linebacker hears his name called during the three-day NFL draft, which begins Thursday at 8 p.m., that last set of numbers -- that ridiculous speed -- will be a big reason why.
"When I talk about my speed, they're really amazed by it," Harvey said. "They really weren't concerned about height or weight. They were just saying how they like how I play and how I get after the ball."
And then there are these numbers: 6-6, 266.
If former Marshall standout tight end Lee Smith should hear his name called in the next three days, that size -- that ideal, old school, blocking TE height and weight -- will be a big reason why.
"You don't have to have a ton of football knowledge to know what kind of player I am and how I can help at the next level," Smith said. "Most people said that, you know, I am your big Y-tight end. I'm 270 pounds."
Harvey and Smith have both been in contact with their fair share of NFL representatives since their Thundering Herd careers ended last November.
Smith did his the conventional way -- hiring an agent, getting invited and playing in the Senior Bowl, getting invited and participating at the NFL Combine -- and said late Wednesday that every NFL team has contacted him in the past week.
Harvey, on the other hand, had his work deeply cut out for him.
First, there was the Combine snub, then no invite to the two major senior showcases (Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game).
It took a performance in the NFL Players Association Game and a headline-grabbing Marshall Pro Day workout to garner attention.
Which he did.
Not long after he clocked a 4.46 40 during Pro Day at Edwards Stadium, the visit requests rolled in.
Soon he was working out for the Pittsburgh Steelers, then the Arizona Cardinals, then the Jacksonville Jaguars and, finally, the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Every team I went to, they showed me a lot of love," Harvey said. "It was like a recruiting visit. They would bring you in and talk to you.
"You would meet the coaches. The coaches talk to you and you're ready to commit right away, right then and there. But you really can't commit to them because you don't know where you're going to go, where you're going to get drafted."
According to Pro Football Weekly, Harvey is a "priority free agent," meaning being selected might not be in the cards.
But, don't count out the kid who went from not highly recruited out of high school to becoming the fifth-leading tackler in MU history.
"I work hard and nothing was given to me since I've been here," Harvey said. "Like one of the scouts told me, 'Expect the worst and hope for the greatest.'
"Just give me one opportunity, that's all I'm looking for."
Of his four visits, two of those teams (Pittsburgh and Arizona) run a base 3-4 defense, a scheme that would seem to fit his undersized, but speedy style.
"But teams that run the 4-3 have called me, so it doesn't matter," Harvey said. "I'm pretty sure they're going to keep me as an inside linebacker."
Smith, who projects to go somewhere in the fifth to sixth round by PFW, knows exactly where they'll keep him. He offers a different style of tight end play compared to former Herd teammate Cody Slate now with the Kansas City Chiefs.
"The 270-pound tight end who can contribute in the blocking game is a dying breed," he said. "Coaches are going to want Cody in the lineup to go down the field and make plays and they're going to want me in their lineup for when they're on the goal line. That way the Cody-types don't have to block (Houston Texans All-Pro defensive end) Mario Williams.
"And that's what teams have told me. I'm a Y-tight end. They'd love to have me, but it all comes down to numbers and comes down to the (draft) board."
Smith, whose late father Daryle played six years in the NFL, said the Eagles and New England Patriots have been to his Knoxville, Tenn., home for visits.
Both he and Harvey will try to break the 0-fer on former Marshall head coach Mark Snyder recruits being selected in the draft.
The event's first round is Thursday with rounds two through three starting on Friday at 6 p.m.
If Smith or Harvey's name should be called, it will most likely come Saturday when the draft finishes with rounds four through seven.