Don't expect the Houston Texans to draft a wide receiver with the 26th pick in the NFL Draft because they need a wide receiver. Ditto for an offensive lineman, linebacker or any other position on the football field.
If that sounds counterintuitive, so be it. That's how the Houston Texans roll and they're not about to change now that everyone in the organization feels that a Super Bowl run is within sight.
General manager Rick Smith made it clear that the Texans will not draft based on "need" in his annual pre-draft press conference Tuesday afternoon.
"We've never been a football team to draft for need," general manager Rick Smith said.
Smith will not focus on any position (he won't be obsessed with landing a wide receiver early to make the fans feel better about Jacoby Jones and the lack of a clear impact No. 2 wideout for example). Instead, he'll pick the highest-rated player on the Texans draft board when the defending AFC South champions' pick finally rolls around Thursday night.
No matter that player's position.
"We've never been a football team to draft for need," Smith said.
It's clear that Smith feels that is exactly when many teams get into trouble. Drafting on need often leads to reaching and grabbing a player who may be a stretch at that draft slot in a determined attempt to fill a specific position on the depth chart. Smith comes across as borderline obsessed with sticking to the Texans' exhaustively-researched, "vetted" draft board — and avoiding any of those impulsive reaches.
"As far as the way we value the board, or rank the board, or order the board, it's all based on the way we value players," Smith said. "It's not based on need or anything like that."
OK, drop the borderline. Smith is completely obsessed with the Texans board and staying true to it. With Houston's recent success in the NFL Draft, it's hard to argue with his methods though.
Smith attacks the draft like Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips attacks a defense. He and his team come up with a gameplan (the Texans' draft board) and then he goes out and executes it under the bright lights of the NFL's three-day TV show. Knowing that the only certainties in this year's draft are that Andrew Luck will go No. 1 to the Colts and Robert Griffin III No. 2 to the Redskins.
"In the first round, you try to get a player who will impact your team," Smith said. ". . . If that's an offensive player, he can make plays with the ball in his hands . . . Somebody who impacts the team."
Whether that player happens to be big Georgia Tech wideout Stephen Hill, for example, will rest on where Smith has Hill rated on his draft board. If there are players the Texans have rated higher than Hill still available, they'll go there instead.
Sitting at microphone in the Texans' eighth-floor Reliant press box, talking about the draft, Smith comes across as the last guy who's going to make a rushed, gut decision. He believes in the process.
Smith is completely obsessed with the Texans board and staying true to it. With Houston's recent success in the NFL Draft, it's hard to argue with his methods though.
In talking about Phillips' 3-4 defense, Smith did mention the necessity of having plenty of agile linebackers. He even dropped a "need" or three in there. Call it a momentary slip.
"One thing about this defense, you need linebackers," Smith said. "You need depth at linebacker. You need as many guys as you can find that can rush the passer, guys that are athletic."
Smith also mentioned wide receiver and adding youth and speed there. Of course, he also brought up the offensive line and cornerbacks. About the only position he didn't bring up is quarterback.
And in the end, a team that's on quite a draft roll, picking up impact players Brooks Reed (42nd overall pick in 2011), Ben Tate (58th overall pick in 2010), Connor Barwin (46th overall pick in 2009), Antoine Caldwell (77th overall pick in 2009) and Glover Quin (112th overall pick in 2009) in the second round or later, all in the last three drafts, will stay true to its script.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Texans end up moving down and perhaps completely out of the first round by trade. It'd be more of a surprise to see them move up, but hardly a shock. All based on The Board.
"We’ll do what we always do," Smith said. "We’ll stay true to our board. We’ve assessed a value that we think these players have at their particular positions and the way that falls is the way that we’ll pick them.”
It's more scientific than sexy. Smith is also sure it's how one gets Super.