The following is a transcript of Texans general manager Rick Smith's Thursday press conference at Reliant Stadium.
(opening statement) "Welcome everyone. I always like to take this opportunity to really applaud the efforts of all of the scouting members of our organization. The scouts do an outstanding job for us. You guys know that I'm big on process and that I'm big on making sure that we are thoroughly vetting this whole board. That starts with our college scouts and (director of college scouting) Mike Maccagnan and his leadership. No different than years past, they have all worked extremely hard and I'm proud of those guys and their efforts. I think we have done a nice job in terms of our preparation for the draft. We obviously still have a week left to fine tune, but the vast majority of the work is done and those men have done an outstanding job. I'm proud of them and appreciate their work and their efforts for that. With that, I'll open up for any questions."
(on who the Texans will select with the No. 1 pick) "I don't exactly who we will take. What I do know is that I know the order of our board. I know that if we select first, it's a unique opportunity obviously to be the first pick. If we do select there, I know who we feel good about there. If we move, then obviously there are variables that come into play at that point. While I don't know exactly who we're taking, I think that we've done a nice job of valuing the board and we know how they fall."
(on what stands out in terms of the depth of the draft) "I know there has been a lot of talk about the depth of the draft. I do think there are positions in this draft that are deep. I think there are other positions that are pretty consistent with the yearly averages. There are some good players in this draft. I've said before, I like the board. I really do. I think there is value throughout the draft. In each round there are good players and there is good value throughout the entirety of the draft and that is exciting."
(on if they stay with the first selection, if they know who they want) "It's fascinating to me that this is such an intricate question. What I'm saying is we have valued and ranked our board. If we take the first pick, we know who we want. What I'm saying is I don't know. We are obviously open to moving out of the first pick, if in fact there is an opportunity for us to do so and if we think that is in the best interest of the organization. That's what I'm saying if that provides any clarity."
(on if he likes having the first pick and all the pressure that comes with it) "Here is the thing that I see. It's an opportunity for us to get better. I've said this as the process has played itself out, we not only have the first pick—everybody is really centered and focused on the first pick of the draft and understandably so, but what we understand is that it's not just that first pick. It's the opportunity to take the first player in each round. It's also the opportunity to reset your board for three days because of the format of the draft, and so you have a chance to pick the best player on the board three different times. If there is an opportunity to move, it's a chance to acquire more picks and increase your value. It's a unique situation. It was very painful to get here, but now that we have lived it for a while and prepared this way, it's a very, very advantageous place to be because it gives us a chance to really impact our football team."
(on what the discussion was like to set the board at the top and who was involved) "This process has happened since January. We've been talking and we'll continue to talk and there is still a lot of information that can be obtained in a week's time. To the degree that you get any information that alters anything that you think, we certainly have to remain open to that. I think we've done a nice job of being thorough with our process. I think we know as much as we need to know about these prospects, but if there is information that we learn over the next few days that alter those decisions, then we certainly reserve the right to do so. I think it's just interesting to me that it's a big deal that we know our board and all of a sudden we know who we want. That's our job. I think we ought to know that. It's a multitude of conversations that have happened over time."
(on if he knows what it will take for him to trade the No. 1 pick in terms of received compensation) "That's the other thing that you do. At this point, what happens over the next week or so, is you're running those types of scenarios and those valuations as well as trying to asses as best you can what you think will happen during the course of the draft, which in turn kind of helps you determine how far you may want to move, if you want to move. Other players that you're interested in and where they might fall or where they might be picked. All these things that you do in anticipation of whatever move you may make, whether you stay there and take the player there, or if you move back. Those are the things and the discussions that we will be partaking of over the next couple of days. "
(on if he feels pressure with drafting to improve a team that went 2-14 last year) "I don't feel pressure. That's just my personality. I feel like we're prepared, so I'm confident in our process. I'm confident in the men and ladies that we have here working in the building that help us get ready for this process. Because I have confidence in our group, and the things that we do to measure and prepare for the draft, I'm not nervous. I don't feel any pressure. I am very confident that we will make good decisions and improve our football team and we will entertain any opportunity to do that. It's just been the same. I'm asked oftentimes, 'Now that you've been in this position several times, is it easier for you?' It's not easy. You have to be diligent. The one thing that I talked about a lot is there is a significant amount of discipline that is required in this process to do it effectively because you have to try to state as objective as you can. We all have these biases and we all look at things and want things to be the way we want them to be, so you've got to try and stay objective in your evaluation process. That's something that I talk a lot about, throughout our meetings, we've got to maintain the discipline to objectively evaluate these men and what they can do for our organization and how they will come in and impact our team and make sure that we have valued them the right way with respect to those things."
(on the needs of the team and what he hopes to accomplish throughout the entire draft) "I think when you look at our football team, there are some areas that I think we can improve on. First of all, there are two positions that I never think you can have too many of: corners and tackles. I think you are always looking to improve the depth on both sides of the ball up front. We want to be a bigger, faster, stronger football team and that's what we're looking at. Obviously the quarterback position is a position that we have done a lot of study on. I think this draft, there are several guys—I always like impact players. Guys that make plays either with the football in their hands offensively, or who make plays on the ball defensively. We'll certainly look to add impact players that way as well."
(on how this process has been like working with Bill O'Brien compared to Gary Kubiak in the past) "I think the biggest thing is just the whole opportunity to be exposed to a new system and the learning that is involved in that. That was one of the things that I expressed that I was looking forward to when we hired Bill. I've been in a certain system for 18 years and so the opportunity to step outside of that comfort zone, and learn something, gives me a chance to grow personally and professionally. That was a fun part of it. Bill is smart. He's very articulate. He's got a good vision. One of the things that we are really doing this year is painting a vision for each player and how that player will come in and specifically impact our team. That has been fun."
(on if he's determined how far he would trade down with the No. 1 pick) "No, I have not determined much of anything yet. There's a bunch of options out here for us and what I can tell you is that we're going to do everything to get this team as good as we can get it and increase the talent on this football team as best we can through next weekend."
(on why drafting and developing a quarterback in the first round seems to be such a crap shoot) "That's an interesting question. When you evaluate any position: quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back, I just think that you need to be obviously very clear (with) the characteristics that you're looking for, whether they be physical characteristics or personality characteristics or the things that you're looking for. Position parameters based on each position (is) the thing that you start with. Then you look at the type of football player the guy is and then you look at those intrinsic qualities or characteristics that are important to each specific position, to the degree that you can look at those things that have historically have predicted success at a position and identify those traits and characteristics in a player at whatever position he is. It gives you a chance to predict whether or not the guy is going to be good at the position. Quarterback is a difficult position to play in this league. I mean, there are a lot of things that quarterbacks have to do, so even though you look at all of those measures and you try to predict all of those measures. Sometimes you just don't know what a guy is going to do and how he is going to perform in this environment until he is here."
(on if the success of quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson given him more comfort in taking a quarterback outside of the first round) "Yeah, I think there's an idea of a traditional quarterback that is successful in the NFL and I think those two examples are guys that don't necessarily fit the ideal mode and I think they've also given people some confidence that you don't necessarily need to have a traditional type of quarterback to be successful in our league."
(on what it's been like having conversations with Bill O'Brien about different quarterbacks and seeing how he evaluates them) "It's been fun. Like I've said, he's smart. Very intelligent. Very communicative. It's been a good process. It's been a learning process for me. I've got my ideas. We've had some good conversations and some good discussions with respect to the things that are necessary for a guy to be successful in the league. Those have been good."
(on if he and Bill O'Brien have been on the same page a lot of if there have been a lot of disagreements about the way they evaluate players) "It's been pretty consistent that we've been in agreement. He's been in football a long time. I've been in football a long time. I think we know what good football players look like. It's no surprise to me that we saw things pretty much the same."
(on if it's the best player available or if it is calculated with need factored in when he ranks his board) "I've said many times, you eliminate need, you eliminate the current complexion of your roster when you value and you rank players because that changes immediately. To me, and this is just my philosophy, we've done this over the years where we've ranked and valued the board independent of need because I think it gets to the discipline that we talked about earlier. I think you are less inclined to stay disciplined if you're biased about what you need. So you all of the sudden run the risk of over-valuing a certain player because you need a position and I think that opens you up for mistakes."
(on what he thinks about the draft being in May and if he would like to see the draft go back to being in April) "To have the first pick, the extra time has been good. I think that I enjoyed the schedule and the rhythm of the draft in April and would probably want to see it moved back but I'm enjoying it the fact that it's in May this year for our selfish purposes."
(on what kind of interest he's you had from around the league on trading for the No. 1 overall pick) "What I try to do, is we try to have a bit of a bunker mentality when we're working through the process to eliminate any type of outside influences, so it's at this point where I'm kind of coming out of the hole to look and see what other people are saying and starting to make some of those phone calls and starting to call around, just like I do every year to show my colleagues across the league know that we're interested in anything that's going to help our football team improve. I'm starting those conversations now and certainly will keep those private but that's no different than any year. We are always talking and making sure people know that we're open to any opportunity that's available for us to improve our team."
(on if he's happy that he has all day to work on a trade on draft day since he is open to it) "Yeah, that helps. This is an exhaustive process. I say that a lot but it is. As much as you can have opportunities to do that, to have those conversations. I do think you have to guard against paralysis by analysis a little bit. But I do think that if you are smart with your time, you can use it effectively."
(on if he's gotten to the point in talking specifics of a trade in his discussions) "I am not going to tell you anything about any of the conversations that I've had, nor will I tell you who I've talked to. I'm going to keep those conversations private."
(on if the discussions about trading the first overall pick have been serious) "I'm not going to talk about the nature of the conversations."
(on if he sees a situation where the team won't go on the clock or that the team will use the full 10 minutes to make the pick) "If there's a situation where we feel like this is something that we are absolutely sure we want to do, then you will execute. I tend to believe that you probably want to give yourself as many opportunities or as much time as you have to exhaust yourself of your options. It seems to me that we will take all of that time to do that."
(on if the draft evaluation process changed at with addition of Bill O'Brien) "It's been the same. We augment our process every year. I believe that you have to get better. I think that you have to take real, honest looks at your process. At the end of each year we do a de-briefing and we talk about what happened. We talk about things that we think were good or areas that we think we can improve on. . We have always tweaked our process each year coming off those conversations in an attempt to improve. So we've certainly done those improvements and made those changes whether you're talking about our college free agent process or the actual evaluation process. We've tweaked little things but that's consistent with what we've always done."
(on what's it been like listening to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel evaluate players) "Enlightening. He's obviously done very, very well in our league and had a lot of success at the coordinator position and is a wealth of information. So again, an opportunity for me to grow in my football knowledge. Those conversations were good."
(on if there could be some movement of veteran players on draft day) "I haven't done a whole bunch of that. I don't even know if I've ever moved a player on draft day. Those things are certainly options. We don't have a whole bunch of history doing that. But again, if there's an opportunity for us to get better, we'll explore it."