Texans GM Smith says value over need
The Texans need a wide receiver.
But that doesn’t mean they’re going to draft one with the 27th overall pick.
During his pre-draft availability at Reliant Stadium on Tuesday, Texans general manager Rick Smith stressed that the Texans will take the best available player and won’t draft for need.
That has been the Texans’ view since Smith became general manager and he was unwavering while talking about it on Tuesday.
“I just think it’s important—it’s vitally important in my opinion to the success of consistent drafting to distinguish between need and value,” Smith said. “I think when you set your board, you set your board according to value and where you see it, player’s abilities and capabilities to perform. And once that you assess that value, then if you can get a player at a corresponding value in a round that’s a position of need, I think, as I’ve said before, then that’s the ideal scenario and situation. I think if you go into the situation trying to rank and value your players based on need, I think that just opens you up for the potential of making mistakes.”
The Texans have been extremely successful with their first round picks in each of the last five seasons. Starting in 2008, they’ve selected Duane Brown, Brian Cushing, Kareem Jackson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus with their first-overall selections. All five will be starters this season.
Their past draft classes, along with several key free agent acquisitions, have made the Texans a winning football team. They went 12-4 last year on the way to their second straight playoff appearance.
They seem to be knocking on the door of a Super Bowl but even that won’t shift the team’s draft-day philosophy.
“That’s discipline. In this job, you have to have a certain amount of discipline,” Smith said. “Because I think that’s a very easy trap to fall into. First of all, I don’t know if any team is quote en quote ‘one player away,’ you know what I mean? I know that what you mean by that is we’ve got a good football team. We’ve got a lot of good players in place, so maybe if you addressed one particular position, maybe you could position yourself to be everything you really wanted to be.
“I will say this; I try to exercise good discipline in this process because I’m not only looking at next year. My job is to be forward thinking and I’ve got a big-picture view of not only next year, but the year after and the year after. I’ve got to manage the salary cap that way. I’ve got to manage the roster that way. And that’s what we try to do. So you try to just exercise that discipline and not get caught up in that type of scenario because I’ve got a broader view.”
Now just because the Texans will have to come up with a name for the commissioner to read on Thursday night when they make the 27th selection, that doesn’t mean Smith doesn’t hear from coaches, scouts and players.
Since 2004, 13 of the Texans’ 15 first or second round picks have been on the defensive side of the ball. Ben Tate is the only skill position player taken in the first or second round since then – he was taken with the 58th pick in 2010.
So, do offensive coaches get in Smith’s ear to ask for a weapon? Of course they do.
“If I were to sit here and try to say that coaches don’t try to influence me, I wouldn’t be truthful,” he said. “That’s just part of the process.”
And coaches aren’t the only people trying to persuade Smith to select certain players. Scouts work with the coaches and front office to form the group that helps determine who the Texans will pick.
Then, there are the players. Texans wideout Andre Johnson said that he’d like to see the team take a wide receiver to help him out. Certainly, they can use one. Smith admitted as much, but would he actually listen to a player’s draft suggestion?
“Yeah … coaches coach, players play and administrators administrate,” Smith said. “Everybody has opinions about what we need and how we need to do it. There’s nobody who understands our football team better than our players and certainly the leaders of our team. And I think you have to listen to those guys when they talk about their football team. To the degree that it influences me on draft day, it won’t anymore than a coach.”