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Smith addresses combine


Texans general manager Rick Smith was one of a handful of GMs to take the podium at the combine. He talked about what the Texans are looking for as they head into the draft and how the combine helps the front office evaluate talent.

Texans general manager Rick Smith

(on who will be the Texans' starting quarterback) "Our starting quarterback is Matt Schaub. Sage (Rosenfels) did an outstanding job in the opportunities that he had last year. If you look at the league, there were 60-some different guys playing the starting quarterback position last year. It is very, very important to have a good backup that can go in the game, that your team feels comfortable with, that you don't feel like you miss a beat when he's in the game. And we certainly feel fortunate we got a guy like Sage in that position for us."

(on his template for evaluating talent) "There are any number of combinations of things you look for. I think, obviously, when you talk about the various positions, you have athletic quality and things you look for. You look at character. The most important thing is his body of work on the football field. We are looking for football players. We like good-character, high-quality guys who are about the game of football. How you measure all those things, you take into consideration how he plays the game, how fast he is, how big he is, what kind of kid is he off the field. You take all those things to paint a picture of a kid to see if he is a fit and can come into your locker room and play on your team."

{QUOTE}(on having first round picks not work out) "...This is not an exact science. If you are diligent about your preparation and your research and all that you do, it gives you a chance to get it right. That is why it is important that you work extremely hard in this evaluation process because all we are trying to do is give ourselves a chance to get it right."

(on choosing between running backs who are younger and have not taken as much of a pounding or a back with more experience) "We are looking for ability is what we are looking for. Certainly, if a guy has not had the pounding that another guy has, maybe that guy has a little edge. But by and large, what you can count on is how good a runner is he. Does he fit your system?"

(on what he has seen out of Texas running back Jamal Charles) "I like him - a fast kid, an explosive kid, a good runner. I think he started a little slow this year, but he came on as the year progressed. He had a couple fumble problems and those types of things, but, boy, you watch him in the mid-to-latter part of the season and he really came on and had a productive season. I think he is going to be a good back in this league."

(on how he views the Wonderlic test) "I think the Wonderlic, much like any standardized test, has a place. I don't think it is the end-all, be-all that measures a kid's intelligence or aptitude, but it is a measuring stick. It is one way to assess intelligence."

(on if the Wonderlic test is more useful at some positions than others) "I think what that speaks to is there are some positions that require a little more ability to reason or think. What you are doing is looking at one position versus another position and, you got to have a guy who thinks a little bit quicker or has more ability to function than another person. It is a measure of intelligence in some respects but not the end-all, be-all."

(on if the combine is more important for guys from smaller schools) "I think back to last year with a kid like Jacoby Jones, who we took in the third round from Lane College. Really, the big question when you are dealing with a kid from a small school is when he gets to the big stage is it going to be too big for him? Can he handle all the things that are at this level? You want to see a guy who looks like he belongs. When you talk about all-star games and the combine, it is important that they don't look overwhelmed, that when he takes the step it is not going to be too big for them. It is important that they show they belong."

(on what goes into his evaluation of talent) "I think all these things are ways that we evaluate. It is a total process. You can't look at one individual thing at the combine and say, 'We are going to take him.' I think it is a combination of things. The medical piece is important because you want guys on the field who are going to play for you. That is very, very important. Our medical staffs do a really, really good job of examining the guys."

(on how much he sees when he can only spend 15 minutes with a player) "What you hope is that you can identify some of the things you need to. If there are issues with a particular player who you have questions about, you have done enough research already that you can get to that pretty quickly in the 15 minutes. By and large, that 15 minutes is getting a general feeling about a guy. I can look at a guy and talk to a guy and see if we feel good about a guy as a person. I think you can do that in 15 minutes."

(on his favorite question to ask) "One thing I like to ask guys is - this thing is hard. There is a lot of pressure in this league. One of the things you are constantly trying to assess is how is a guy going to respond. So a lot of times I will ask guys, 'What is one of the most difficult things you experienced in your life and how did you fight through it? How did you do? How did you approach it?' Just to get a guy's mindset about how he is going to react when things get tough."

(on if he was surprised that the franchise tag was used by so many teams this year) "I was not surprised. I think what teams are trying to do is hang on to their good players. And that is certainly a tool that we have to do that. As you look across the league and you look at free agency, I think more and more teams are going to try to keep their good players. In today's world with the salary cap, I think it is important that you draft well. I stood up here last year and said we are going to try to build through the draft. What does that mean? To me, that means you do a good job in your draft, you select players that are a good fit for your system, and then you recognize that and get those guys under contract for the long term. And you continue to build that way. You supplement through free agency, and maybe add a player here and a player there, but by and large you build with good young players through the draft and get those guys under contract. That is the trend. Obviously, the franchise tag is a way we can do that."

(on Houston wide receiver Donnie Avery) "I think he is fast. Boy, (he has) an electric layer. Explosive, going to be a good player in this league. One thing you can't coach is speed."

(on how general managers avoid letting ego get in the way of decisions) "That to me always plays itself out on the football field. I don't think you can let finances, ego - I don't think you can let anything stand in the way of playing the best football player, because that is going to win you football games on Sunday. All those things get played out exactly the way they are supposed to and that is on the field."

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