Houston Texans HC Lovie Smith held his 2022 NFL Scouting Combine press conference on Wednesday. Afterward, he also held an informal "off-the-record" session with members of the local media. Here are six things we learned from Coach Smith at the Combine.
Smith's first order of business was to complete his coaching staff and now he turns his attention to evaluating personnel with this week's trip to the Combine.
"Coming to the Combine is the first opportunity, I feel like, to really kick start that next year," Smith said. "There's a lot of information you can get from here. We're having meetings, of course, at night. Can't wait to see some of the workouts on the field. So, the process has started. Again, there's a lot of excitement. You know, personnel first, it's about the Draft, free agency, all of those things. Can't wait to get started with those."
Asked about the top edge rushers in this year's draft class, Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux, Smith has been impressed with both but said this year's defensive line group is one that has a lot of playmakers.
"I'm a fan of college football in general and both of those guys had outstanding college careers, Smith said. "Both of them are going to have excellent careers in the NFL, along with quite a few others. I think there's a pretty good defensive line class. And again, starting the process of seeing them, you know, here in this environment, seeing that, hopefully, some of them work out and in their pro days, they'll tell us an awful lot."
According to Smith, the defensive line is the engine of the defense and the linebackers are the "brain trust." Smith has coached several Hall of Fame linebackers in his career, including Brian Urlacher and Derrick Brooks.
Smith was pleased with what he saw in QB Davis Mills in his rookie campaign. Keeping Pep Hamilton, who was promoted to offensive coordinator from passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was important for Mills' development in Year 2.
"I love his demeanor," Smith said of Mills. "He's a smart guy. He went to Stanford, right? Smart guy, teammates buy into him. And I also got a chance to see a lot of the young quarterbacks in the league play, and I thought Davis played about as well as most of them. It was important to for, of course, the break to keep Pep Hamilton on board, you know, them being able to work together two years in a row. So again, I'm pumped up that, you know, he'll be leading us and excited about what his future."
On whether or not Deshaun Watson will be on the Texans roster this year, Smith said he has "no idea." What he does know though, is with time, the situation will get resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
"I just know Deshaun is an excellent football player, excellent football players need to be playing somewhere in the NFL and hopefully that'll happen if it's not with us somewhere else," Smith said. "And I'm sure, as I see in this situation, both of us eventually are going to benefit from the situation, and I just can't wait for that to, you know, speed up a little bit."
When asked about the "new wave" off Cover-2 schemes, Smith compared his style of defense to his favorite type of music, R&B.
"People say times have changed," Smith said. "Yeah, I still listen to R&B music, old school music pretty much every day. That hasn't changed, good music. Cover 2 is not going anywhere."