Editor's Note: This feature profile on Falcons vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith is the first story in an extended scouting series providing insight into key members of Terry Fontenot's staff and how they operate, constantly searching for the players required to establish a period of sustained success. We'll also tell untold stories about how the Falcons found some top players in later rounds.
We focus first on Kyle Smith, a tenacious and driven personnel man with scouting in his blood who is, as Fontenot puts it, is 'obsessed with the process.'
Story by Scott Bair
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Terry Fontenot's a keen evaluator of talent. The Falcons general manager brings a detail-oriented approach to the process, as good scouts often do, gathering information on individuals beyond what can be seen on tape or a CV.
He leaves no stone unturned gathering insight on prospects, football players or otherwise.
That included his search for a right-hand man. Fontenot was looking for a vice president of player personnel with passion, conviction and drive, someone to help construct a roster capable of sustained success.
Was Kyle Smith that guy?
Fontenot wasn't yet sure.
"I didn't know Kyle," Fontenot said. "So, I started doing research."
Just like he would on a prized college prospect. By scouting.
Smith's draft record with Washington Football Team was plain to see, but Fontenot needed more. He made call after call, asking trusted resources about Smith's reputation in league circles and what it was like working with him day-to-day, about his work ethic and character from those who knew him well.
Here's something Fontenot probably expected but may not have known at the time: Smith was scouting him, too.
The 37-year old had options after he parted ways with Washington, and the Falcons opportunity was a good one. The respected personnel man and son of former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith wanted to make the right career move, so he started doing his homework on the Falcons and Fontenot.
Smith liked what heard about his prospective boss.
"Every call I made on the guy [revealed] that Terry was a top-shelf person and as advertised," Smith said. "…He's very organized and very detailed. He knows scouting. He checks all the boxes."
Then Smith and Fontenot started a dialogue about their approach to football, to college and professional scouting, and how to run a front office. Turns out they have a lot in common.
"As soon as we started talking there was an immediate bond between the two of us," Smith said. "We were on the same page."
Fontenot agreed. "It just clicked."