Over the past few years, the preferred offensive style of NFL offenses has changed dramatically. There are guys coming into this league that can throw for 300 plus yards, and there are quarterbacks who can be a threat to run for 100 yards. Bigger and stronger athletes are entering the league, which has made defenses adjust their schemes, and offenses adjust their playbooks.
After the emergence of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, teams have been seeking that huge target to throw to down field that will rise up over everyone to catch the ball, then knock over anyone in his path.
The New York Jets might be the most marketed team in the NFL. This past offseason the New York Jets picked up the most popular and marketed player in the NFL, and he's a backup quarterback.
The Jets made another surprising move that was less heralded by signing free agent Hayden Smith to compete with prized tight end Dustin Keller. If you asked Smith a year ago who was on the New York Jets roster or how to play American football, and how do you play it, he probably wouldn't know the answer to any of those questions.
Smith is a former rugby player for England who played basketball at the collegiate level in the US. He displays that he is a quick learner, taking up rugby in 2008, and from there he played in the 2011 Rugby World Cup where he was a standout player.
Smith stands 6-foot-7, weighs 255 pounds, and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. When Smith decided to give American football a try, he hired University of Minnesota's coach Tim Brewster as his personal coach. Brewster was also Antonio Gates position coach with the Chargers from 2002-2004, and helped Gates with the transition from the college basketball to the NFL.
Smith performed a combine-like tryout, and sent a video to numerous NFL teams. In February, the New York Jets organized a interview with Smith, and requested that he bring some rugby footage. Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, and Mike Devlin, the Jets tight end coach all liked what they heard and saw, and signed him to a contract in April. Smith wears No. 82, and has been partaking in minicamp activities.
has all the intangibles to become a successful football player in the NFL. He definitely has the size, the quickness, and the hand-eye coordination to play alongside Dustin Keller. With his size, if taught well, he can also block, which will fill the role of a blocking tight end that the Jets have so desperately needed.
So will we hear more of Smith or will he be cut by the second week in pre-season? In my opinion, this is an intriguing move by the Gang Green. With his size and athleticism, there are many places where you can put this giant. Have him block on punts, have him as a fullback, or maybe even as a defensive lineman or linebacker.
If the Jets are practicing formations in which Sanchez and Tebow will be in the same backfield, anything is possible.