In the NFL, the name of the game is versatility. The more things a player can do for a team, the more valuable he becomes. Brad Smith came into the league playing one position and retired at a different one. The former Jets wide receiver was originally a quarterback before he was switched to wideout.
During the 2006 NFL Draft, the Jets were able to hit two home runs with their first-round selections: offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. Mike Tannenbaum and company then directed their attention to a QB from Missouri with the name of Brad Smith. New head coach Eric Mangini and front office executive Terry Bradway felt the Jets “should be able to get a lot out of him covering kicks, getting the ball in his hands. Really moving him around.”
Tannenbaum explained to Smith during the second round of the draft that although the team really loved him as a prospect and felt he could make an impact right away, that vision would not come true if he didn’t make the switch. There was just one issue with this — Smith wasn’t on board. He still felt he had a lot to offer as a quarterback.
As the third round came and went, Smith was still on the board. He reiterated that he felt very comfortable as a quarterback, which led to the Jets’ decision to head in a different direction. When the fourth round came, Tannenbaum, Mangini, and Bradway had a similar conversation with Smith, and he finally agreed.
“Brad Smith turned out to be an absolute, incredible player. He was versatile, he was tough, he was a good receiver, he was great on special teams, he was incredible in the locker room, and it was a great fourth-round pick. It was just one of those situations where we didn’t want to take anything away from his dream and his aspirations of initially playing quarterback, but as the draft went on, we found great alignment in the fourth round. It turned out to be a great pick, and he was a foundational player for a lot of teams that went on to make the playoffs.”