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Rick Smith presser quotes


General manager Rick Smith said that the Texans have been running through mock draft scenarios in preparation for this weekend's draft.

Texans general manager Rick Smith spoke to the media on Wednesday at Reliant Stadium, making his final public comments before the 2009 NFL Draft this weekend.

General manager Rick Smith
(opening statement) "Well, it is nice to see you – some of you more than others; some of you not so much. It's good to see you. I don't really have anything urgent. Obviously, we are very excited about the weekend, and with the draft coming up, I feel good about our preparation. It's nice when you've had some consistency, and so all of our people, they know the system, they know what we're looking for and so there's familiarity in the process and that, I always think, breeds a better product. So we've done a good job; the scouts have worked extremely hard and done a good job; coaches have jumped into the process and done quite a good job. It's going to be an interesting day. It's going to be an exciting day, of course, and we feel like we're in a position where we can really help our football team. That's what is most exciting and that's what we're looking forward to. So I will open it up for questions if anybody has any – other than who we're going to take."

(on what will be the determining factors regarding the first-round pick) "Are you talking selection or movement? For the next couple of days, there's not a lot of evaluation going on at this point as much as it is just trying to get a sense of what's going to happen. So your question is right on in the sense that what I'm trying to do is prepare. We're trying to prepare for what we think may happen, and it's such a fluid process, obviously, and it's not predictable, but you try to get as good a feel as you can for what you think might happen as the first round starts to unfold. And so we try to anticipate as much as we can, and then as the thing is happening, you are watching what's happening and that will dictate. That will dictate from the standpoint of if there's a player there that we're excited about, or if not, or if another team is excited about another player and they're trying to move up. All of those things are obviously the things that are happening on draft day that we try to get a handle on as much as we can before Saturday, and then you just kind of watch it unfold on Saturday."

(on if the team's focus is on defense going into the draft) "I've said that what I think we've done over the last few months in free agency, I think, gives us an opportunity to let the process and let our board dictate where we go. I think if you look at our football team, the one glaring issue that we felt like we needed to address was some help on the other defensive end, and I think we've done that in free agency with Antonio Smith. I like that addition. I think he's going to help our pass rush and so I think that, coupled with we'll have (FS) Eugene Wilson. We got him re-signed. We signed (SS) Nick Ferguson for depth at safety. We're counting on (LB) Zac Diles to come back and be a productive player. Prior to his injury last year, he was playing at a very high level. We're counting on (LB) Xavier Adibi to take that next step this year, and so we signed (LB) Cato June as a guy who can come in and compete at that position. He's played in Super Bowls; he's a guy who has started in this league for years. And so I feel like we've done what we needed to do via free agency to give us a chance to go and pick the best player. We still need some help all over our football team. I think, offensively and defensively, there are areas that we can improve on, so that's the way I try to go into it and I try to trust the process. We have evaluated these players and rated them in value and ranked them, and that's the way we're going to hopefully pull them off the board."

(on if the team still has a "glaring need") "I don't think so. I think that we've helped ourselves. I think the glaring need that I think we had is that I think we had to help our defense, and I think we've done that in free agency. I think we need a complementary back, at some point, would be nice. Everybody's talking about the fact that we need another back with (RB) Steve (Slaton), a bigger back, a third-down back, and they forget that we've got a guy walking around in our building right now that could fill that role, and that's (RB) Chris Brown. He was hurt, obviously, last year, but he's still on our team and so there's a possibility for him to fill that role. So I don't think that we have a glaring need anywhere. I think that we can improve our team in a lot of different areas, and that's what we're going to try to do Saturday and Sunday. But to say that I'm sitting here and that I am in a position where I feel like if we don't come out of the draft with any one particular position, we're in trouble, I don't feel like that."

(on DE Antonio Smith's ability to play inside in passing situations) "That's why you would really benefit from another pass rusher-type outside guy. I think he can rush effectively from the outside. I think if you move him inside and you've got another speed guy on the edge, that only enhances your chances of getting after the quarterback. But you're right. That is a position in this draft, it's an interesting position in the sense that there are a lot of what I call 'hybrid' defensive end/outside linebacker types that are a little undersized as defensive ends, so they could play maybe the right end in a 4-3, but they also could be outside linebackers in a 3-4. And obviously, with the number of teams that are moving to the 3-4, it's going to be interesting that way. But there are some players in this draft that fit that bill that you're talking about, and those players are attractive, of course, because if you put those guys out there, you do afford yourself the opportunity to move Antonio inside."

(on if he considers drafting a situational pass rusher a luxury or a necessity) "No, I know the nature of your question because you're looking for value, particularly where we're picking at 15 is what you're talking about? I think that what you try to do is, obviously the earlier in the first round, you're looking for an impact player – a player that's going to be a starter and is going to contribute to your team as much as possible. So that's where you get into the debates and the discussions about how valuable is that if he is just a pass rusher – if it's just a guy who's just a pass rusher and not an every down player, how valuable is that? And that certainly has been a big part of the conversations and the discussions that we've had because you've got to try to figure where the guy is valued relative to how important that is on your team.

"There are so many variables and factors that come into that decision. It's not just a black-and-white issue whether you're going to assign that certain number or a certain round that you take the guy who is just a position player versus a guy who is a specialty player, like you put it. There's your situation with your football team and the complexion and makeup of your team as well as, 'What is he going to do? Is he going to help you on special teams? Is he going to play 40, 45, 50 percent? If you're going to be in a package, what is your defensive philosophy and scheme? Are you in that package more where maybe you've got more value on a guy like that?' So there are all these things that you think about and talk about when you're trying to make that decision."

{QUOTE}(on whether defensive coordinator Frank Bush's philosophy changes how positions are valued) "No, from the standpoint of the overall structure of our defensive system, we still run a 4-3 defense. I think what Frank wants to do, and he's said this very clearly, (is) that he wants his unit to play very aggressively. And in his mind, I think guys have to understand what you're doing and know what they're doing, and he will make calls that will give them chances to be aggressive. From a talent evaluation standpoint, we didn't have to adjust anything that we're looking for. It was pretty similar."

(on having the confidence to trade down in the first round after doing so last year) "It worked out great (last year). So much of that is timing and luck, but I don't think that it gives me more confidence. I think each situation or each draft is going to be independent in and of itself. So I think we've got a good process where when the phone rings, I think (director of football administration) Chris Olsen and (director of pro personnel) Brian Gardner and myself, as we try to figure out value, I think those guys do a really good job of helping me assess what are the potential implications of moving. And then if it's something that we think is advantageous for us, then we'll do it. But I'm certainly open to that, of course."

(on who he relies on during the draft) "As far as those two guys, those two guys are manning the phones; (associate director of pro personnel) Bobby Grier is manning a phone as well, and so they're fielding calls from other teams. Again, in preparation for draft day, that's who we're talking to. We're looking at the different ways that you value picks and so we're trying to anticipate where those opportunities may come from, what teams, and so how much movement. But on draft day as it relates to just trade value, I really pretty much rely on Chris Olsen and Brian Gardner and Bobby Grier."

(on what Olsen, Gardner and Grier do during the draft) "Well, they field calls. I've got a phone in front of me; Bobby does; Chris does; (head coach) Gary (Kubiak) does. And then we get a call from a team. 'Team A' calls and says, 'Hey, if our guy is there, we may want to come to your spot.' And at that point, we look and then we've got to value where their spot is, where our spot is, and then what the corresponding compensation is that might be fair. And so we're running those numbers and we're trying to figure out what we're going to ask for in return. And then once we figure out and get an idea of what we want, then I'll call the general manager back and we'll start to talk about what it will take for us to do that and move, and so that's kind of what the process is.

"And so that's what we're doing now. We're running mock drafts and so we'll come up with, yesterday we did maybe 10 different scenarios, OK, and so we're here and 'Team A' calls and wants to move to this spot and here's what we would get and here's who is left on the board at this particular time in this mock draft and who would be willing to do this? Who would be willing to move here? So we just practice those scenarios just to get the thought process and the actual logistics of how it works down, because it's not like we're predicting exactly what's going to happen because you can't, but if you practice the process enough, then on draft day you have that confidence that John (McClain) is talking about to execute a trade where you feel good about what you're doing because you don't have a lot of time on draft day to make that decision."

(on the effect of the steroid allegations published about some prospects) "I didn't pay any attention to it. I got a letter from the league office informing me that I would have on my desk by the 20th of April the actual list of players. And so before I got that list, I didn't pay any attention to that at all because you can't trust that stuff. What you do is you trust your information. We've had scouts out since last year evaluating these guys and gathering information on them, so I trust that information a heck of a lot more than I trust a report until I see something substantiated."

(on if there were any names on the official list that caused him to change his mind on them) "I'm not going to talk about who's on the list, but I will say that all of the information that you are given up until Saturday, up until you pick a player, I think that we put all of the information into the hopper to help us with the decision."

(on if he is looking to pick up a cornerback to leverage the CB Dunta Robinson situation) "Not to leverage the Dunta Robinson situation. I think that you can always improve your defense with corners. I think you've got to take corners all the time. You look at the two drafts that I've run so far, and I'm going to always take corners because I don't think you can have enough guys that can cover and run and hit and do all those things that we ask them to do. So yes, if there's a corner available, we'll certainly try to add one."

(on after two 8-8 finishes, if he needs impact players rather than developmental players with the first two picks) "Yeah, at least what I try to do is I think that the first and second round particularly, the first round you want an impact-type player. I mean, that's what you're looking for. In the second round, you'd like to get yourself a really solid starter who's going to start early and play for you. And so that's always our desire going into it, to get an impact player with the first pick and to add to our team and get solid players and starters in the second and third round, especially."

(on if he thinks more teams will try to trade down since there seems to be more value in the bottom of the first and second and third rounds) "Yes, I do. I think that in this particular draft, certain positions have a little bit more depth than others, and so I think the other thing that might influence that is if there's a run on a particular position and teams feel like they have to get a certain guy or a certain position, then I think you might see people try to move. And that's what's attractive about our spot. That movement starts to happen around there, and so we may have an opportunity to move if we're so inclined. If we've got a guy sitting there that we love and we don't feel like we can pass him up, then you take him. But I think that what you're saying with respect to the way that a lot of people have this draft evaluated, coupled with the fact that some positions are not as deep as others, will create some movement in this draft. At least that's what I anticipate."

(on if he would have to consider someone like RB Chris Wells or Knowshon Moreno if they fell to the No. 15 spot) "Well, to answer your question, I don't think that we can afford to not take any player at 15 if we have him rated there and he's the highest guy that's rated there. And that's what I mean by letting your process run itself – we've done the work, we've put the work in, we've evaluated the board, we've got it stacked. You know, it worked for us last year on the move down. We talked about how we had our board stacked. And we had a need. I mean, we had a need to have a left tackle last year. And we're sitting there at 18 and sure enough, in all of the mock drafts prior to that day, any time we had run the scenario where all of those tackles were gone, nobody voted to move back. But we trusted the board, and what the board said was that there was a high probability that we can make this trade and still get our player and pick up a third-rounder and another sixth-rounder. So we trusted the process, and it worked out for us. Now, a lot of luck comes into that, but I just believe in the process and I think if you're diligent and disciplined and you believe that and you let the process run itself, I think that's – I hope that gives us a better probability of having a good draft on a consistent basis."

(on if his approach to this year's draft is any different with the contract situations of CB Dunta Robinson, TE Owen Daniels and LB DeMeco Ryans and if anything has changed with Ryans) "No. You know, DeMeco showed up and we were very pleased that he joined his teammates this week and so we're happy about that, but no, my approach is that the two are mutually exclusive. I've got pretty good confidence that those guys will show up and play and be productive players for us, so I don't really worry about that. Our philosophy is to build through the draft as we've talked about, and part of that process and part of that philosophy is that you sign your young players to long-term contracts. Now sometimes, that's a process in and of itself that has some ups and downs. But we're committed to that, and we'll continue to do that."

(on how he ranks running back as a priority and where the team might look to address running back in the draft) "Well, I think that there are some quality running backs in the draft, and we've talked a lot about the mid rounds where you can find value there at the running back position. In my history, we've had success even later, in the late rounds at the position. I do think that if you have a player who has special ability and it's pretty clear that he's got special ability, then I don't think you eliminate the chance that you take a guy early, either. I think if you see enough value in a player and you know what he can add to your football team, I think, again, you take him where you've got him evaluated if there are no other players at a position that you think might be more impactful on your team at that point."

(on if the team doesn't have enough ammunition yet to feel comfortable trading up in the draft) "First of all, we're not one player away. But I don't think that we're handicapped, either. I think that we've got a number of ways to do that. You can package later-round picks here. You can do future picks. You can do players. There are any number of ways to kind of create value, so I think we've got enough picks and you can talk future picks if we were so inclined to try and go get somebody. If somebody fell and we felt really, really good about a player, we definitely would consider doing it. I don't think that that's going to be the case, but I think that we're fine to entertain those options if they present themselves to us."

(on how he characterizes the overall draft) "You know, I don't do that. It is what it is. You look at it, and if you did that, first of all, it's such a subjective evaluation, anyway. But there are certain positions maybe that are more deep than other positions in any given year, but the overall class, I think football is still good in this country. I think we're producing good football players. Every year, what happens when the juniors are inserted into the group, it kind of levels out. So I think that this class will stack up with any other class."

(on how important it is to find big corners to match up with big receivers) "Well, you would love it. You'd love to have the 6-0, 200-pound guy who runs 4.3, has got long arms and can drop and change his – do all of those things that we look for him to do. That's kind of tough. In this draft, there are not a lot of those kind of guys. It's a lot of the 5-9, 5-10 corners who run pretty well. But that's the ideal. And again, we always talk about it – you start with position parameters. You start with the ideal guy. You start with what (former Texan) N.D. Kalu (seated in the audience as a Houston Chronicle correspondent) looks like when you look for a defensive end, and then you work down from that. So it'd be great to do that. In the last couple of drafts, we've been fortunate. Fred Bennett is a big corner and he can run. Antwaun Molden's a big kid. He's 6-0, 202 pounds, and he runs 4.4.; he can run. So we've been fortunate to get those kind of guys. You don't find that luxury all the time, but that's what you look for because of the size of the receivers."

(on if there is a defensive player out there who can be a difference-maker on the team) "Well, I think so. I think there are a couple of them. I think that there are some players in this draft that could definitely come in and impact our football team and help our defense, and hopefully that's going to be the one that we pick."

(on if it's out of the question to draft a quarterback in the sixth or seventh rounds) "Quarterbacks are kind of like corners to me. Late in the draft if you take one, Bill Walsh had a theory that you take one every year. So we would not be against that. I still would like to see what Mr. (Alex) Brink has to offer. I think he's excited about the offseason and doing a good job, and I think we still are excited about his ability to develop into an NFL quarterback. And so I feel pretty good about that right now, I feel good about that position, but that wouldn't stop us if we got late in the rounds and there was a guy that we'd kind of like to work with."

(on if the added media attention to the draft in recent years is a good thing or a bad thing) "No, it's fun. It's good for the league. It's good for the league with all the coverage that the NFL draft generates and the excitement that the fans feel about it. Again, one of my favorite times of the year is either the first day of the mini-camp in May or the first day of OTAs when you put everybody out there that you've brought together in an offseason and you get to kind of look at them, and that's when people start talking about the possibility and talking about the season. And so it's a fun time. It's an exciting time. It's an opportunity for us to get better, so I enjoy it. I think everybody does. It's fun for our league."

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