Recently promoted to Director of College Scouting, Kyle Smith has climbed the ranks of the Redskins front office with father, former, top NFL executive A.J. Smith, as a guide.
From intern to in charge, Kyle Smith's dedication and performance during his seven years with the Redskins have earned him the position of Director of College Scouting for the organization. Season after season, the 33-year-old has worked with accomplished industry leaders, absorbing their knowledge and expertise.
Among the mentors that have supervised Smith includes his father, former executive vice president and general manager of the San Diego Chargers A.J. Smith, who has had the greatest influence on the young professional's path. As one who had already ascended the NFL scouting hierarchy, the elder Smith is his son's go-to guide for advice on progressing his career.
"I'm still talking to him about as far as being a director," Smith said of conversations with his father on his promotion. "There's stuff that you have to prepare for and he's been talking to me about that, as well as [Redskins' Senior Personnel Executive] Scott Campbell. That's all the stuff I'm excited about—it's to get involved with that. I'm moving back here, I'm excited to be back around with the coaches and everybody in the office. It's cool, it's a good deal and I'm fired up about it."
Smith will relocate to Washington from Atlanta, where he served as the team's Southeast area scout, delivering the team's 2017 first- and second-round picks, Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson, respectively. Smith spent his childhood in Buffalo, N.Y., however, during which his father worked in scouting for 14 seasons with the Bills after playing football semi-professionally in Massachusetts and later teaching physical education in Rhode Island. From Buffalo to San Diego, A.J. Smith joined the Chargers in 1985 as pro personnel director and was eventually named executive vice president and general manager in 2003.
As the Charger's all-time winningest general manager, Smith headed the team until 2012. While the Chargers had not been to the playoffs or had a winning record for seven consecutive seasons before Smith's management, the administrator reignited the organization's success and acquired top Pro Bowl talent for the team. During his nine-year reign, he was also named the NFL's 2004 Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA), FoxSports.com and CBS SportsLine.com, selected as Forbes' 2006 top NFL General Manager, and remained a highly-ranked executive in the league for the second half of his career.
While A.J. Smith established his legacy in the NFL, Kyle Smith observed his father's fruitful work ethic and drive.
"I know he's my dad, 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 and started [scouting] as an intern, like I did, and worked his way to becoming a GM. Gave up everything. He and my mom had two small kids—you know what I mean? Just chasing his dream of being a scout…
The Washington Redskins on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, announced that Doug Williams has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Player Personnel along with additional personnel department changes.
"When I was six years old, most kids get read the Berenstain Bears books. I'm getting read AFC East advanced reports," Smith continued. "That's what I've grow up in and that's my passion. My passion is ball, and that comes from him."
Smith took his enthusiasm for the game to Youngstown State, playing wide receiver and punt returner from 2002 to 2005. He acquired a number of accomplishments, including two-time honorable mention all-conference, the school record for consecutive games with a reception (30), and the 11th rank in program history for career receptions (101) and receiving yards (1,534). He was also elected a team captain his senior year and went on to earn the team's MVP award that season.
Smith then received free agent opportunities with the Minnesota Vikings in 2006 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007. He also played in the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League before interning with the Redskins in 2010, beginning his tenure with the team.
As Director of College Scouting in Washington, Smith will now use what he's learned from his time with the organization, as well as from his father, to attempt to ready himself for the inevitable challenges of the new position.
"I think especially the grind of the scouting season, you can't be prepared for that," Smith said. "When it's time, from August to December, we're out, we're gone. We're on that road grinding. That's always something [my dad] prepared me for."
Smith also aims to employ his father's leadership techniques when directing his own scouting team, ensuring open communication and support during.
"My dad did it the same type of way," Smith said. "Your ability to lead your guys, motivate your guys… You have to check in on your guys on the road. It's long days, man. It's lonely out there. Guys have families and kids they want to get back to, but it's good to check in on those guys and that's what I plan to do."
While Smith explained that he is single without kids, his new position will require more responsibility. Though he acknowledged the support of the organization's higher leadership, he explained that he will manage his own team with methods from the best.
"My influence is A.J. Smith and Scott Campbell," Smith said of the anticipated operating style. "What we do moving forward in that process of structure obviously will be ran by [Senior Vice President of Personnel] Doug [Williams] and the powers that be, but my vision comes from them. That's what I know."