I have been thinking of doing this series for a while now. However, I had planned to make it more of a draft series for the under the radar prospects that may be surfacing now. Hayden Smith is not a part of the draft this year, he is a free agent free to sign with any team. I took one look at a post about who he is and his history and I became intrigued. Find out what caught my eye about this guy after the jump....
Here is the face of the next potential Cowboy. Just so you know the reason I say that is because he has already worked out for the Cowboys. Just so you know though, they aren't the only ones. Our rival Eagles and Redskins have worked this kid out as well. The Saints and Jets have also already garnered interest. However, the only team with any historic ties to him besides us are the Redskins. I will talk about his historic ties later. But let's get to what I like about this kid in no particular order. But first, let's have a look at a little video:
First of all, as you may notice in the beginning of the video, you will see "Path to the Draft" on the walls around the stadium. This most likely was one of the new regional NFL combines that he was being measured at. And as far as him running that 40, how many of you would like to have this guy barreling down at you? This guy is one big dude. As far as just body type and athleticism, he is compared to Rob Gronkowski (6' 6", 265, 4.68) for his size and speed. Smith reportedly runs around a 4.75 40 at 6' 6" and 265 lbs. Now he is a little bit older as he will soon turn 27 years old. Still what he brings just showing up is pretty eye popping. He is being projected as a TE in the NFL because of his body type.
For a little fact that we don't get about each of the players is something that was pretty impressive to me. You will notice this little known stat at the beginning of the video with his 9.2% body fat. For those of you that do not know what this means, it calculates how much of your body weight is lean mass (Fluid, Organs, Bones & Muscle). Of the 265 lbs. on his frame, 240.62 lbs are lean mass, leaving only 24.38 lbs of fat. To put it more into perspective, as I have gotten into body building and know a little about this, 6 - 13% body fat is where you get into the "ATHLETIC" range. Less than 6% is a bodybuilder. The average for a TE in the NFL is 12%, but Smith is closer to the average WR/DB (8%) who have the lowest average of all players. What this means is that he is a hard worker and dedicated, especially in the weight room.
Hayden started off as a basketball player. He played college hoops in Denver, CO at Division II Metropolitan State. However, he isn't coming straight to football right from basketball. In fact, he currently has trouble meeting with NFL teams that have taken interest in him because of his commitments to the sport he currently plays... Rugby. What an odd jump between sports. In rugby he plays the Lock Forward position. For those of you not well versed in rugby (I am not either) here is an explanation of what the Lock Forward position requires in rugby:
The locks tend to be strong and tall. In the scrum you provide stability and go forward power to push the opposition off the ball.
In line-outs you are the tall timber. You are thrown into the air at the right moment to receive the ball thrown by the hooker or contest for possession when the opposition throws in.
In case you aren't aware, a scrum is like the hockey face off, except you get in a line with all of your teammates and push the opposing team as the referee tosses the ball underneath this mayhem (somewhat like the ref dropping the puck in hockey) and you attempt to push the other team off the ball to gain possession. Hmmmm, sounds a lot like the blocking responsibilities of a Tight End to me.
And being the guy to catch the line-outs (or what you might call a throw in) means you need to be able to catch. You are also the one to defend these when the other team takes a line-out. Sounds like pass catching and a pretty good red-zone threat to me. Although the basketball rebounding is probably a better comparison for this particular aspect.
On another note, just for the sheer fact that he plays professional rugby (football without pads and only laterals, no forward passes) makes you wonder what this guy could do on a football field with pads on. This, to me, is kind of like fighting a professional boxer, and you just gave him brass knuckles and head gear.
Ok, he is an Aussie so he doesn't have much pedigree as far as his family ties go, so that may be the wrong word. However, the face above is the face of the man who has been training him. That is Tim Brewster, the man credited for bringing Antonio Gates from the hardwood to the gridiron. Basketball is his first love, and the same was the case with Antonio Gates. Again, pedigree may not be the right word, but if there is a coach that knows a thing or two about basketball players becoming football players, especially at the Tight End position, it is Tim Brewster.
According to the National Football Post:
Coaches are now seeking out Brewster’s opinion on Smith. He’s spoken to Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who he worked under in Denver. He’s also talked to Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, who coached Brewster when he played in college at Illinois. He’s also talked to Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Another tie that our cowboys have to him is that they already have dealt with his agent before. His agent also manages another Aussie, who as of currently is not a Cowboy anymore, Mat McBriar. However, we do have some competition for him, and division competition for him at that. However, the Saints have also looked at him in addition to the Jets giving him multiple looks. The Bears and Seahawks have also taken interest but reportedly have not met with him yet because of his Rugby schedule. Our tie to Jim Brewster and Smith's Agent do give us a slight edge though in my eyes.
In closing, this kid is quite the specimen. Of course he is being looked at as a potential tight end, which I am all for. However, he is also being scouted at other positions according to NFP:
With similar physical traits and measurements to Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, tight end may be the position that makes the most sense for Smith. Some have talked about looking at him as a pass rusher and perhaps as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. His large hands are soft and he is known for having good ball handling skills for rugby.
This kid definitely deserves some more research. After letting Bennett walk, we crated a small hole at the TE position this off-season. Smith might not only be able to fill that spot and a need, but with his rugby experience I am thinking he could be a pretty good blocker at TE since that is what he does in I think he would be a great option to be our #3 TE or even better so to bring in for competition in camp. If nothing else, it fills another need leading up to the draft, further expanding our ability to draft the best player available without needs. I would love to see what this kid can do. Keep an eye out for more news on this kid and be sure to share it. He just may be wearing a star in training camp this year.