The week of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is vital for Lovie Smith.
The Texans Head Coach has been busy this week watching NFL Draft hopefuls go through drills on the field, and he's also helped interview many of them. While other head coaches around the league take a pass on the Combine trip, Smith doesn't.
"It's very valuable for our organization," Smith said. "It officially starts the process. First off, being able to check them out physically. The medical stuff. I think any information and as much information as you can get just helps you make better decisions. This is a part of that."
Smith's beginning his 12th season as an NFL head coach and his first year in that role with Houston. He was the Texans Defensive Coordinator last year and he relishes this week. Smith explained the importance of the official player interviews, which last 20 minutes between a team and a particular prospect.
"For some of our scouts, they have a lot of the information already on these guys," Smith said. "But for me, it's my first conversation that I've had with most of these guys. So just the initial 'get-to-know each other' phase is pretty important. Any information is good information."
General Manager Nick Caserio described the process as mainly seeing what a prospect knows about football, and how in those conversations, the Houston evaluators "try to steer it towards football as much as possible" and to "let them kind of teach us what they know". Smith added that he and the Texans are trying to max out what they can learn in the allotted time, and that it's akin to being on a first date.
"You have 20 minutes to get as much as you possibly can," Smith said. "We take every second pretty much. But we're going to talk again. As I say, the first date, there's going to be more dates with most of these guys and it's just the start of the process."
The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 28 in the Las Vegas. Caserio, Smith and the Texans currently own the third overall pick, and have nine total selections in the Draft. Four of those first nine are in the top 80 picks.