With a 2014 NFL Draft that includes no clear, undisputed No. 1 pick, the Houston Texans have so far kept quiet about their first-overall selection. For general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith, the decision has been made.
"I absolutely know who I want," Smith said in an interview with "Texans Huddle" on Fox Sports Southwest. "I know the guys we like. The fortunate thing about having the first pick is I've got the pick of the litter, so I will know exactly who I want at that point."
Conflicting reports have linked the Texans with players ranging from Johnny Manziel to Jadeveon Clowney to Khalik Mack, to name a few. Trade rumors have also floated around, something that Smith has not ruled out if the right opportunity presents itself.
"Now where the game is played is if there's an opportunity to move and, in this case, obviously to move back if somebody else wants to come up to that first pick," Smith said. "Then you weigh what the opportunities are versus who the individual is that you want to take and what that value is relative to the value that somebody might be offering you. But as you move through the draft, obviously you don't know who's going to be picked when."
The often-repeated mantra, to select players based on value not need, factors heavily into the trade scenario. Players have all been evaluated in a vacuum, independent of roster holes or team needs. The goal is to avoid what Smith refers to as "confirmational bias," or giving better grades to players that fill specific needs.
The perfect formula for drafting is the intersection of value vs. need, according to Smith.
"I've said very often that if you are able to take a player at a corresponding value and it fits a position of need, then you've hit the homerun," Smith said. "You've done a great job."
If the Texans can do that, they'll be pleased. Not only do they know who they want at No. 1, head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff have already determined their homerun players in subsequent rounds.
"As we go and that board starts to fall, we've already earmarked that guys that we like, that we think will fit in our systems and we'd like to see in our locker room and the guys that we think would be good guys in our community," Smith said. "We've got a pretty good idea of who those men are."
To hear the complete interview with Rick Smith, tune into "Texans Huddle," airing Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and again Thursday at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest.