Sometimes I read about things that make me question the entire world. This was the case tonight when I read that the New York Jets were working on a trade of Wayne Hunter aka ”The Turnstile” to the St. Louis Rams for Jason “Bust-o-Matic” Smith. I had to think about this a little but sort of like those Skittles commercials, it’s all starting to make sense now. Only in the NFL can this be news.
Let me start off by saying that this trade is a perfect example of just what an imperfect science scouting prospects is, and both Hunter and Smith represent opposite ends of the spectrum for me personally.
Both Smith and Hunter came into the league after playing in pass heavy offenses, Hunter at the University of Hawaii, and Smith at Baylor. Back in 2003, I remember watching Hunter and marveling at his athleticism and his ability to pass protect. I assumed that once he was in the league he’d get stronger in the run game and be a great player for a long time.
Well that turned out to be so far from true. He never got stronger, he did learn to run block, but after dominating as a pass protector against teams like Nevada and San Jose State, he never got any better in pass protection. I talked him upand he burned me. Thanks for nothing Wayne.
On the other side, when Smith was all the rage in 2009, I remembered. I watched Smith and saw a young man who wasn’t particularly strong, inexperienced in run blocking, and had to pass protect against a lot of average pass rushers for very short set ups. I was very vocal that I wouldn’t draft him early, and I was right. The Rams reached for him,and he’s never panned out. Retribution.
So, the Jets and Rams are swapping mistakes in hopes of each of them finding a fresh start with new teams. The idea has merit. It’s not unprecedented for a player to struggle on one team and then turn it around on a new one. In the case of this trade, I think the Rams probably got the better end of the deal, because I think in a backup role Hunter can provide depth at all line positions except center, whereas Smith is a tackle only and on a team that Jets head coach Rex Ryan claims is going to play smashmouth football, Smith doesn’t know the meaning of the word. In the final analysis, I doubt either of these teams look at this trade and think they won, just that they lost a little less than the other.