Head coach Gary Kubiak (Left) and general manager Rick Smith at their Saturday press conference after the conclusion of the draft.
These quotes are part of our 2010 Path to the Draft coverage presented by FOX Sports Houston.
After the Texans concluded their draft Saturday, general manager Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak met with the media and discussed the crop of rookies. The following is a transcript of their interview.
General manager Rick Smith Head coach Gary Kubiak
(Opening statement) “Obviously our portion of the 2010 NFL Draft is done and I feel extremely proud of our group, I think more than anything. I just talked to them and told them how impressed I was with who we chose. We talked in a press conference earlier this week about the fact that we have some continuity and some consistency with our staff and sometimes it’s easy to not be attentive and get too comfortable, but I thought our group did an outstanding job of remaining focused. They did an outstanding job of evaluating the class and I think we got a good group. I’m excited about them and our football team is better and that’s the ultimate goal of the weekend.”
Gary Kubiak(on drafting several tight ends) “Well really, I see one of them. (TE) Garrett (Graham) is definitely going to play the tight end position, but (WR) Dorin Dickerson, we’re going to play him as a wide receiver, that’s where he’s going for us. I just think he has a great deal of ability. The kid can go all over the place; he’s played linebacker, he’s played tight end. I see him having a future as a wide receiver in this league, so that’s where we’re going right away with him. He’s got 43 ½ inch vertical and he runs a 4.5 so he’s got a chance to be a big receiver, and we’re going to line him up behind (WR) Andre (Johnson) and he’s going to learn from the best. We’ve got a long way to come with him, but he’s going to be a great project for us.”
(on seeing TE Garrett Graham as insurance coming off of offseason surgeries in the tight end position) “Well, a combination of both but we think he’s a fine player. We had a little luck catching a tight end out Wisconsin a few years ago. This kid kind of reminds us of (TE) Owen (Daniels). Actually Owen knows the young man, spoke very highly of him. He does a lot of things well, he’s played a lot of football, he was the team captain, he’s very respected--just the type of kid we’re looking for. There is a great opportunity for him here as we head into the offseason because we’ve got some guys that won’t be working. We’ll see how far he comes.”
(on whether Sherrick McManis is a more of a cornerback or a safety) “He’s got definite athletic skills to play on the edge, and we love his football personality. He’s a very intelligent guy, a good leader for that team, and when we talked to the coaches or anybody from that school they rave about him and his abilities. We’re excited about him and he can play corner.”
(on why the Texans didn’t draft a wide body to collapse the pocket) “What we look for as a group on defense, you can have a bigger nose (tackle). We feel really good about (DT) Earl (Mitchell). He isn’t a big 360-pound guy, but he is a 300-pounder and he moves and again we talked about the other day in what we look for our guys. We need guys who are athletes and who can play on their feet and can run and chase and also have some gap integrity. We think he can do that.”
(on if the Texans are concerned with the health of their tight ends) “Obviously you have a concern when you have so many guys having off season surgery. It’s such an important position for our offense and we certainly have all the confidence in the world. First of all (TE) Owen (Daniels) will be coming back and he is ahead of schedule from what I understand in his rehab process. He learned how to rehab that injury. I have a lot of confidence that he will be back and will be fine. (TE) Anthony Hill, he had knee surgery as well and (TE) Joel Dressen had a couple of surgeries. We expect those guys to be back, but we also want to continue to get better and when there is an opportunity to improve your football team you figure out a way to get good football players out on the field. That’s our philosophy and that’s why we acquired the players that we have.”
Gary Kubiak(on the emotional phone conversation with RB Ben Tate) “All these kids are passionate when you call them with their families. It’s a great day in their lives and you catch in an emotional time. These kids worked extremely hard to get picked in one of these three days. You’re just happy for them and their families. You feel good about them coming to your organization when they are sitting there with that type of passion for the game. He spoke very well with our coaches and is excited to get going. He’s a very talented young man. He played big time football in the SEC and led the SEC in rushing last year. He knows we have a need for him to help this team very quickly. The phone call was a very good start.”
(on what fit RS Trindon Holliday will be for the Texans) “We think we have a returner that can change the field for us. As punt and kick returner we think he could do wonders for our football team. I think we could teach him the back position and certain wide out positions.”
(on OG Shelley Smith) “He’s a great young man and a four-year starter and captain. You can tell football is important him and he is very passionate about the game. He’s a very intelligent guy and I’ll think he’ll fit well with our group.”
“I know the young man and we’ve some success in the later rounds with some of these kids. He’s very athletic. He played very well in his first three years in college. He played with a high ankle sprain last year. I think it set him back a little bit. I think he has the ability to play center and guard in this league. Skill-wise I think he has everything you could look for. I think he could fit very well in our group."
Rick Smith(on why they chose CB Kareem Jackson ahead of other cornerbacks) “It was a comprehensive evaluation; obviously a lot of things come into play. First of all he has great skill and he’s a tough guy. We talked the other day about how you continue to add toughness to our football team and we felt like he (CB Kareem Jackson) does that. He has great ball skills, great speed, played in a big time conference, was a three-year starter and was a productive player. All the things you look for really set him apart for us. Obviously we had those guys sitting there, so clearly we had him rated as our guy that we felt could best come in and help our football team. I’m really excited about this young man and what he can do for us.”
(on the overall draft and filling the team's needs) “I think in a lot of respects we filled some needs. The way I approach the offseason, I don’t think you can always fill every need that you have and I think it’s unrealistic to think that you do. Because a lot of times you make mistakes if you try to reach or do something to fill every need. But I think we were successful at addressing the areas on our football team that we needed to improve and it is up to these guys to go out there and coach them up.”
(on what he likes about RB Ben Tate) “I think he had four offensive coordinators in four years. He’s been through a variety of systems. He excelled this past year, carried the ball more than he ever had. Not only a big back, which we were looking for some power there from that standpoint, but this guy is 4.4 also — shows the ability to make big plays. It will be a little different for him — down in the I-formation and going that way but like his make-up. Throughout the interview process, we listened to him talk football and we think we can make a lot of progress from that standpoint — real quick. We just think he fits exactly what we want to do. Like his size but it’s always nice to have someone who can hit a homerun when everything works out.”
(on the likelihood of pursuing an offensive guard in free agency) “We just added to our football team from a free agent perspective. We’re always constantly looking and if there are guys that are available or come available and could help our team and we will always consider those guys. Right now we feel good about our group.”
(on depth at safety) “I think we have two of our starters back from last year. The surgery that Eugene Wilson had, I think he is recovering well. I think he played extremely well for us and obviously (Bernard) Pollard’s addition during the season last year — he’s back. I think our safety postition is a good one. We have two starters returning. I think Dominique Barber is a good one. I think he has a lot of promise. I did like what I saw early from Troy (Nolan) but he was injured early last year, so he has to go prove that he could go play at this level. But I like what he brings to the table.”
(on not drafting an offensive tackle) “I think Rashaad (Butler) did an outstanding job as a swing tackle. We only had three of them and Ephram (Salaam) has moved on and we will move on. So that is a place that we could have helped our team. Didn’t have that position with a player in terms of value during the last few days, so we didn’t. ”
Rick Smith(on if it was easy to pass RB Toby Gerhart for RB Ben Tate or if there was discussion) “We had a lot of discussion. I know (Texans offensive coordinator) Rick (Dennison) talked about that and how we had those guys evaluated and graded. There were things that we loved about Toby and things we loved about Ben. There were a lot of things that go into those evaluations—injury history, production, how they fit—all kinds of things that we talk about. Then as you look at the draft, if you can improve your football team in value and maybe pick up more picks and still feel like you can get a guy if you’ve got them rated pretty similarly. The one guy is always going to have things about them that you like better than the other guy, but if you’ve got them rated fairly similarly, then you feel like you can move and pick up additional picks to help your team, then you do it. That was really the thought process in the move."
(on if any of the six corners might become safeties) “I don’t see that right now. I don’t.”
(on what positions they are looking for in undrafted free-agents now) “That’s what we’ve got to do here once the draft is over. We will start the process of calling young men who were not drafted and really, that’s just a product of looking at the roster and obviously these picks that we have and look at the lines and see where we can continue to improve or what we need to go to training camp. But again, I'm not big on just signing players to fill lines. We want to go and try to find guys that can come in and compete and have a legitimate chance to make the team. So that's what we've got to do here as soon as we go back downstairs."
Gary Kubiak(on if Sharpton will play in the middle of the line) "We think he can play the Will linebacker, he'll work as a back up Mike linebacker as well. One of the things that was intriguing about this pick was the fact that he's a very smart young man, good special teams player. We think he'll be able to handle all the spots for us as a swing player and compete possibly to be a starter on the team."
(on what they thought of the new three-day draft format) "I liked it. I felt like it was just a ton of excitement on Thursday night. I mean you could tell--I don't know if I've ever seen players so excited when their name got called, and some of the reactions and I think that was a little bit a product of the environment and what was happening there in Radio City. And I think it was useful for us because we were able to regroup a couple of times like we talked about, make some phone calls and anticipate some things that would happen. And so I thought it was good for the League."
Gary Kubiak"I do too. I like the way we got a chance to regroup each night, talk about which direction you were going to head. And I think it was good for Football, too. I think it was great for our League and great exposure for all the young men who've worked so hard and I hope they keep it that way. I thought it was very good."