Irv Smith Sr. hears it all the time.

Sometimes it comes from a former coach or former teammate.

Other times, it's from someone he played against back in his college and NFL playing days.

But each time someone talks to Smith about his son and namesake, Irv Smith Jr., it goes a little like this.

He walks like you. He stands like you. His mannerisms are like you. When I see him out there, he's the spitting image of you.

And now in the latest chapter of this like-father-like-son story, the 20-year-old Smith will do something else just like his dad: become an NFL tight end.

Twenty-six years ago, the New Orleans Saints drafted Irv Smith Sr. in the first round out of Notre Dame.

Saints GM Mickey Loomis: We're 'fairly confident' of getting a good player at pick No. 62

Now his son, who starred at Brother Martin High School and then at Alabama, takes his turn at the NFL draft, which begins Thursday and ends Saturday.

Smith, considered one of the top three tight ends in this year's draft, won't have to wait long to hear his name called.

He is projected by most as a first-round pick, thanks in part to the 4.62 time in the 40 that he ran and the big-play ability he displayed in college. He'll go early in the second round at worst.

It'll be a dream come true, one he's chased since his childhood days.

"Teachers would ask what do you want to be when you grow up and I always said an NFL player," Smith Jr. said. "They always said you need a Plan B. But being an NFL football (player) was my ultimate goal, no matter what. So having this opportunity is very special."

It's something he's worked for and continues to work for.

Even this week in the days leading up to the draft, he's working out four hours per day while also juggling his time planning for the draft party he's throwing for 50 or so family members in his hometown of Marrero.

That work ethic is what has put him in this position in the first place. And while he and his father are a lot alike, it's what Smith Sr. says makes the two different.

"I liked football. Irv Jr. loves football," the father said. "It's pretty simple. He absolutely loves it. They say if you find something you love to do and get paid doing it, you never work a day in your life. It was work for me. It's not work for him."

Smith Sr. played with the Saints from 1993-97, catching 134 passes for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. He played his final two season with the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns.

His son grew up rooting for the hometown Saints.

But his chance of getting to play for his hometown team are slim. First, the Saints just signed Pro Bowl tight end Jared Cook in free agency. Second, the Saints don't pick until late in the second round. Smith will likely have received his phone call long before then.

Many projections have him going to the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The Patriots have the last pick in the first round and are in need of a tight end now that Rob Gronkowski has retired.

"I really have no choice in where I go, " Smith Jr. said. "But I'll be cool with the Patriots knowing how much success (Bill) Belichick has had in his career and Tom Brady being the quarterback he is and them coming off the championship. But I'm open to any team willing to take a chance on me."

Smith decided to give up his senior season at Alabama after catching 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns, helping the Crimson Tide to the national championship game. His receiving yards and touchdowns broke the school record for tight ends. Not bad considering Smith didn't really want to play tight end.

Smith, whose father didn't allow him to play football until the eighth grade, wanted to be a wide receiver.

"I told him he could be a slow wide receiver or a fast tight end," Smith Sr. said. "Dad knows best."

Smith made the switch from receiver to tight end during his sophomore season at Brother Martin. Six years later, he's headed to the NFL. It'll be the second straight year that a Brother Martin player has been drafted. The Saints drafted former Crusaders offensive lineman Will Clapp in the seventh round last year. 

"Not many people can say that out of high school in New Orleans," Smith Jr. said. "It just shows how many great athletes and how many great coaches we have in this area."

But even more special, he'll be the second person named Irv Smith taken in the NFL draft and the first since 1993, when his dad was taken with the No. 20 overall pick. Smith wore No. 82 in college, just as his dad did in the NFL.

But there was never any pressure being the son of an NFL player. His father made sure of that as he grew up. And he's making sure of it still, referring to keep the emphasis more on his son.

"This is his moment," Smith Sr. said. "It's not about me. Mine was 26 years ago. This is his day. The stuff that he's about to do will make the stuff I did look so small. I'm so blessed to have the opportunity that I had, but what Irv Jr. is about to do will be leaps and bounds more than what I did by far."

Smith Jr. already knows what his first purchase will be. He plans to buy a new car. The one he's been driving since his sophomore year at Brother Martin broke down on him last week while he was making the trip back home to New Orleans from Tuscaloosa.

He hasn't chosen his dream car yet.

But he chose his dream job years ago.

Now that career is about to become a reality.

"It's a dream come true," he said. "Something I've been thinking about my whole life."


Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.