This is the news that I have been waiting through the off season to post about. According to various reports from Jake Steinberg, Rich Cimini, Manish Mehta, and others, the New York Jets are likely to sign Hayden Smith, an Australian rugby star. I reported a while back that the Jets were interested in Smith, and now it seems that they are going through the paperwork to make it official. Here's a little information about Smith.
Hayden Smith is 26 years old, 6'6" and 265 pounds. The Jets met with him twice, in late January and mid-March. They were one of many suitors of Smith, along with the Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, and Saints. Smith runs approximately a 4.75 40 yard dash, giving him very similar measurables to Rob Gronkowski. Smith originally played basketball before switching to rugby, and now football. He is, in short, an athlete. He is currently being trained by Tim Brewster, the same man who converted Antonio Gates from college basketball product to NFL superstar. Join me after the jump as I explain why I'm so excited to see the Jets sign Smith.
Here is an excellent article about Smith, featuring quotes from Brewster, along with video of Smith working out. One quote that stood out to me was this:
I was really amazed at a couple of things. First, his ability to assimilate all the information I was throwing at him. He gets it. Football makes sense to the kid. Second, his work ethic off the charts. He's a way above average athlete for the position. I think the kid has an outstanding future in the National Football League.
I believe that Smith has a lot of potential. We know he's a natural athlete, and that, as a rugby player, he's used to hitting and catching. He's a project, no doubt, but his height and athletic ability will give the team an advantage in the red zone, hopefully in the manner that Plaxico Burress provided last year. If he develops as he's expected to, the Jets could have three dynamic tight ends in Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland, and Hayden Smith. The Patriots revolutionized the two-TE set, but I firmly believe the Jets are in the position to take it to the next level.