Let’s backtrack a little bit, because there’s more to his story than he’s letting on.
Smith is entering his seventh season with the organization and previously served as an area scout in the Southeast region. He played a role in the draft selections of Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson, Georgia State wide receiver Robert Davis and Auburn defensive back Joshua Holsey.
The energetic and personable evaluator is also the son of longtime NFL executive A.J. Smith, who was the general manager for the San Diego Chargers from 2003 to 2012.
“I know it’s my dad, and I’m biased, but he’s by far the best evaluator I’ve ever been around,” Smith said. “He’s a self-made guy. He was a gym teacher for 15 years, started as an intern like I did. He worked his way to become a GM. He gave up everything. He and my mom had two small kids and just chased the dream of being a scout. His passion for ball and evaluating talent, at the end of the day we talk about wanting ballplayers and that’s it.”
Kyle Smith grew up in Buffalo because his father spent 14 seasons with the Bills, serving as an area scout, director of college scouting and director of pro personnel from 1987 to 2000. So, yes, they were on the other end of Super Bowl XXVI when the Redskins beat the Bills as Buffalo lost four consecutive Super Bowls during that stretch.
“When I was 6 years old, most kids get read Berenstain Bears books,” Smith said. “I’m getting to read AFC East advanced reports. That’s what I’ve grown up in, and that’s my passion is ball. It comes from him.”
Smith wanted to be just like his father, even attempting to major in education while playing wide receiver at Youngstown State so he could also become a gym teacher if his dream as an NFL evaluator didn’t come to fruition. That lasted, oh, a good two semesters. Students needed to maintain a B-plus to stay in the education program, and Smith’s academic adviser suggested another major to keep him eligible.
“My academic adviser was like, ‘Kyle, listen. We’ve got this new major. It’s called General Studies. It’s more up your alley for you football guys. It’s called stay eligible, so we’re going to give you that.’
“I feel like I’d be a damn good gym teacher. If only. If only I didn’t need a B-plus, you know?”
During the rare moments he wants to get away from football, Smith goes to San Diego to visit his parents. But even then, it’s difficult to avoid a football conversation with his father around.
“I get to that beach and just kind of relax in that weather,” Smith said. “If there’s one thing that I do that’s relaxing [and] non-football … but even that with my dad, you can’t have a Thanksgiving dinner without talking about a player. It’s just the way it is. It’s my family. Thanksgiving, that game is on. It’s been on. Some people turn it off for grace and all that, that thing stays on. That game is on. The league is what you know.”
As if there weren’t enough scouts in the family already, Smith’s sister, Andrea, married a Chicago White Sox scout. So there are some non-football conversations during family gatherings.
“We’re like, ‘What are you, sick? Your dad’s a scout, your brother,’” Smith said. “And that’s a different deal. They’ve got like 20-something area scouts. We’ve got six. It’s a different ballgame. We try and talk about it and try to find the similarities, but it’s tough.”
Smith’s single with no kids, so his offseasons mainly consist of working out, watching prospects and a few movies in between. He puts his iPod on shuffle during workouts, which could take him from a slow jam to a Metallica head banger in a six-minute stretch. Smith doesn’t listen to music while watching film, but he chews tobacco. (If his mother is reading this, he’s trying to quit again after laying off the chaw for six months last year). Favorite sports movie? “Any Given Sunday”.
“I work out, watch Netflix and do the kind of normal stuff, right?” Smith said. “I mean, that’s what everyone does, I think. I’m not a weirdo, right?”
No, he’s not a weirdo. He’s just a boring football guy.