When Seattle selected cornerback Tye Smith in the fifth round (No. 170 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft, John Schneider was tempted to compare the Towson product's movement and ball skills to another NFL player. But the Seahawks Executive VP/General Manager held his tongue, fearing the media throng assembled around him would think he's "crazy."
"Very aggressive, really cool mover," Schneider said of Smith this past May. "Length. Tough. Just competed his tail off all the time. He was always around the football."
Seahawks fans will have to use their imaginations when it comes to deciphering which player Schneider was alluding to, but one thing is for certain. At 6-feet and 195 pounds, the wiry Smith has the makeup Seattle desires for its 'Legion of Boom' secondary.
"My style of play and the way the secondary holds high expectations for themselves, I like that," Smith said following training camp practice at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center this past week. "I come in every day trying to develop myself and I know that they're going to tell me what I did wrong, but they're also going to tell me what I did right, and also what I can improve on to get better."
At Towson, a small college located just north of Baltimore, Md., Smith was a three-year starter on the outside who finished his career with 312 tackles, the fifth-most in school history. It was the only school to offer him a football scholarship out of high school, where he played wide receiver, cornerback, and returned kicks.
"I use that as sort of like a motivation, or stepping stone," said Smith, who has also been working at the nickel cornerback spot during Seahawks training camp. "Because if I was able to come from just one offer and it gets me here, then having a team that drafts me that obviously means they believe in me like Towson did. They're going to help me develop."
Helping Smith develop in Seattle so far has been the team's starting cornerback Richard Sherman, who's spent every day after practice getting extra work alongside the Seahawks rookie. The three-time first-team All-Pro selection and two-time Pro Bowler Sherman, who has more interceptions (24) over the last four seasons than any player in the League, is essentially seen as a superstar to a wide-eyed rookie like Smith.
"When I first came it was surreal because those are guys that you look up to because they're the best in the game at what they do," Smith said. "But then like once you get to know them they're regular people. They're leaders and they treat you like their little brother."
It's part of the defense's 'each one teach one' mentality emphasized by first-year defensive coordinator Kris Richard, who spent the past three seasons (2012-14) helping develop late-round draft picks like Sherman into household names, something that Smith said gives him confidence as he enters his first year in the League.
"I wish I knew everything he knew because he knows so much about the game," Smith said of Richard. "I feel like every day I'm just trying to learn a little bit more of what he knows because if we can learn what he knows and put that into our style of play, we'll be great."
With the 170th pick the Seahawks choose Tye Smith from Towson.