When Kyle Smith jumped to the Falcons, he brought a wealth of college scouting experience to a front office run by a pro personnel guru in Terry Fontenot. A scout from 2011-2016 with Washington, Smith climbed to director of college personnel from 2017 to 2019 and was the team’s vice president of player personnel in 2020 before being pushed out and landing in Atlanta.
Everything we know about Smith suggests he’s a major piece of this front office now, as this excellent Scott Bair profile outlines. It’s also likely worth scrutinizing his ties to Washington’s 2022 crop of free agents—at least the ones he had a hand in drafting or bringing in as undrafted free agents—because he was undoubtedly instrumental in bringing Fabian Moreau to town last year after drafting him with the Football Team.
Most everyone on this list who has legitimate ties to Smith figures to be a reserve in Atlanta, but that doesn’t mean those potential signings aren’t worth looking at. Let’s zoom in.
WR Cam Sims
Many pieces fit here. Sims is 6’5” and 220 pounds and the Falcons have already shown they’re looking to add size to their wide receiver group this offseason, having signed tight end/wide receiver Brayden Lenius from the CFL and working out 6’4” CFL receiver Kenny Lawler. Sims was an undrafted free agent in 2018 and turned in a solid 2020, reeling 32 catches for 477 yards and a touchdown. His limited use in Washington to this point means he’ll likely be relatively inexpensive, his ties to Kyle Smith mean he should merit consideration from Atlanta, and he has plenty of experience on special teams, which is obviously a prerequisite to be a reserve receiver here.
If the Falcons are looking to replace Tajae Sharpe with someone younger and with some upside, Sims certainly feels like he’d fit the bill.
CB Danny Johnson
Last year, Smith’s presence almost certainly helped the Falcons make the decision to bring in Fabian Moreau, who was very solid on balance as a starter for Atlanta this past year. They may well elect to bring him back, but if they’re looking to continue stocking depth and competition at a cornerback position where they appear to be building plenty, they could look at Johnson.
A reserve and special teamer in Washington, Johnson was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has handled kickoffs off-and-on over the past four seasons. The Falcons brought aboard Corey Ballentine, who has filled a similar role with the Jets and Giants, and if Smith is interested in reuniting with Johnson, he could push Ballentine for a roster spot this summer.
S Troy Apke
The Falcons may be looking to re-stock their special teams help a bit this offseason, with several free agents who may leave and players like Richie Grant who were core players but may have smaller roles as their responsibilities on defense increase. Apke could fit the bill there.
Almost strictly a special teamer, Apke plays multiple roles for Washington, and he’s been a good gunner for them owing to his speed and aggressiveness. Washington took him in the fourth round in 2018 and Smith may well want to bring him aboard to help Marquice Williams and perhaps serve as bottom-of-the-roster depth in the secondary.
The next two guys are not strictly Smith players, but are worth mentioning nonetheless.
RB J.D. McKissic
Yes, McKissic was not drafted or scooped up as a UDFA by Smith. Yes, he was a Falcon at one point. Sometimes correcting the past is the most important thing.
The Falcons really didn’t have a speedster in their backfield last year, and while some of that is undoubtedly by design for Arthur Smith, it was a missing element. McKissic is fast and an excellent pass catcher, something the Falcons may need more of if their pass protection continues to be shaky, and he can fill in on returns in a pinch. As the team’s third back in 2022 behind what are likely to be a pair of bruisers, I think he makes a lot of sense.
Bonus: WR Adam Humphries
My expectation is that Olamide Zaccheaus will be back, and perhaps that Austin Trammell will step into the last spot on the receiver depth chart. If those things turn out to be untrue, keep an eye on Humphries, who played for Arthur Smith in Tennessee in 2019 and 2020 and functioned as useful, sure-handed depth. He’s a bonus on this list because he’s a Washington free agent, not because he has any ties to Kyle Smith.