Kyle Smith became Atlanta’s vice president of player personnel yesterday after previously having that title in Washington, where he spent the last 11 years. Washington’s player personnel hasn’t been great over the last 11 years, but former head coach Jay Gruden said that wasn’t Smith’s fault — and then said it was Dan Snyder’s fault.
Gruden told Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post that Smith did an excellent job working with the scouting and coaching staffs and putting Washington in good shape to have a good draft. The only problem came when, according to Gruden, Snyder would disregard that hard work and pick whoever he wanted.
“Every year that I was there, we had a pretty good draft class, with a couple exceptions,” Gruden said. “[Smith] was really good about listening to the coaches because the coaches also did evaluations. . . . When it came our time to pick, we’d always talk about the picks, where we’d like to go, what happens if [the player] is gone, and did all our scenarios. And then [owner Daniel Snyder] would come in off his yacht and make the pick.”
Snyder has been excoriated for the failures of 2020 first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins, whom Snyder reportedly liked a lot better than his football people did. Gruden’s comments would seem to suggest that he saw Snyder’s interference as a consistent problem in Washington, and a problem that Smith is escaping by going to Atlanta.