EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is part of HoustonTexans.com's 2010 Path to the Draft presented by FOX Sports Houston.
On Tuesday during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Alabama, Texans general manager Rick Smith spoke with Drew Dougherty of Texans TV about the 2009 season, building on that in 2010 and more. The following is a partial transcript of the second portion of their conversation. To view all of Part II, click here. To view Part I, click here.
Dougherty: You wrapped up 2009 with four straight wins. How important was that?
Smith: It was very important. Obviously it gave us a chance to have the first winning season in franchise history, and that's something that, while we didn't recognize our goals, that's something that we can't take for granted. It's never happened, so we certainly are very happy about that. It keeps us not on schedule to where we want to be, but it keeps us making progress. So long as we continue to do that, keep adding pieces. That's why this week is so important. Last week was important. This whole offseason in terms of free agency and how we attack the draft, all of those things are important because we are close to where we need to go. We need to fine-tune now, with the pieces that we need to add. I think this team is ready to realize the goals we have in terms of making it to the postseason and bring a championship to our city.
Dougherty: Top to bottom, the 2009 draft class was a success. How important was that and how much did their immediate success surprise you?
Smith: You always are hoping. Certainly the way Brian Cushing played and the production he had, you saw that potential in him. He had to go out and make plays and he certainly gave us a lot of confidence in what he had done in college that he would do in the National Football League. He had a tremendous year. But like you said, we got contributions from top to bottom and that's what we're trying to do. I think continuity in our staff and in our program has really helped us in that regard because we know what the coaches are looking for. Our scouts, we've educated them. I think what you're seeing from a production standpoint with our draft class is our scouts understand what types of players we're looking for and our coaches understand the process. So when we get into the room in terms of our draft preparation, we're talking the same language. That gives us a chance to go be successful on draft day.
Dougherty: Regardless of position, what is the type of player you want a Texan to be?
Smith: We're looking for smart players. We're looking for high-character players. We're looking for players that are passionate about the game of football. We want physical players. That's something that's important to us. There are any number of those elements that we're looking for. But the biggest thing is I think a guy has to have a passion for the game.