**Texans TV's Drew Dougherty caught up with GM Rick Smith after a Senior Bowl practice in Mobile. The two discussed 2014, changes in the front office, the 2015 Draft process and more.
Drew Dougherty: The Texans went 9-7 in 2014, but there were plenty of highs and lows during the season, werent' there?
Rick Smith: "That's typical of a National Football League season, as you know. I will say while we were disappointed we didn't ultimately make the tournament and have an opportunity to go and chase the championship, we did, in my opinion, set a really good, solid foundation. We managed to transition to coach O'Brien's coaching staff, and I think we've positioned ourselves to continue to improve, and I'm excited about the future."
**DD: How is the draft process different now that that former Director of Player Personnel
Mike MacCagnan took the Jets' GM position?**
RS: "First of all, very excited for Mike and his opportunity in New York. He will do a fantastic job. As It relates to our transition there, we had another guy in the building our director of pro personnel Brian Gaine. He had some interest, as well. He interviewed in Chicago for their general manager position as well as Philadelphia for their vacant position. Once Mike got the job in New York, we felt like it was important to go ahead and solidify our personnel department. We promoted Brian to Director of Player Personnel and we also promoted Jon Carr who had worked his way through our college scouting department from an Area Scout to National Scout and now we have elevated him to the Director role. Very confident in his abilities to do that. It's been a seamless transition from that perspective. Our systems and processes will remain the same. We are always looking at those system and processes to see if we can augment them or to see if there's a way to improve them, and we'll continue to do that. But by and large they will remain the same."
DD: The Texans have the 16th pick. That's a very flexible position in which to draft.
RS: "It is. That's a position where you could position yourself to move up if you felt like that was necessary or to move back and gain extra picks. We'll have a lot of fun preparing here these next few months."
DD: You gain a lot of information here in Mobile from the interview process with players, don't you?
RS: "We do. We've even started that process. We have 64 more interviews in Indianapolis at the combine. Because you are limited to 60 we start that even as early as last week in Florida at the East-West Shrine Game practice. But we will sit and talk with guys in the evenings. We had some really good interviews last night with some of the young men in this game. Obviously, the college scouts are in and out of those schools all the time so they're interacting with these players all the time. The benefit is for us, guys who have not been on the campuses as much who have not had as much exposure to these young men on the personal side, we get an opportunity to really sit down and talk and visit with them here at the all-star games, at the combine, later in the process at the pro days, even when we bring the 30 guys we have the opportunity to bring to our campuses as well."
DD: How much can a guy rise or fall in the draft depending on that interview process you just detailed?
RS: "I think pretty significantly. You either know when a guy will fit or more importantly you recognize when a guy doesn't fit. There's a certain kind of player that we're looking for that represents what a Houston Texan football player is. The men that we want to represent our shield we are very diligent about that and it's something that's very important to us. Chemistry in the building, accountability is
something that we place a lot of importance on."
DD: In 2015, you're very likely going to get some help from some 2014 draft picks that we didn't see much of, and others who are just naturally maturing as players, aren't you?
RS: "When you look at an NFL career, the jump from a rookie season to the second season has to be the biggest jump in a player's career. It ought to be exponential that way because the uncertainty of the NFL life, the rhythm of the season, the schedule, what's required of your time, the attention to detail that pro football requires—all those things that a guy doesn't understand and doesn't know coming into it, he has that luxury of understanding that and so really the athletic ability from that standpoint ought to grow significantly. We will expect that that will be the case as we expect that typically each year."