“It hurts to love…”
That’s right Rick, it does hurt to love. The next couple of months you will see a plethora of guesses, mocks and tweets, oh the tweets, about what each and every team will do with their picks in the upcoming draft. I’ll be teaming up with our co editor Marcus Chavez, for a series of posts. We’ll be evaluating Rick Smith’s job as GM. From the draft to free agents. We’ll hit the rumor mill and decipher what’s smoke and what’s real. Most importantly, we’ll mock up who the Houston Texans will draft.
In my last post, we looked back at Rick Smith’s draft history and explored who the Texans have selected in the first round under his watch. This exploration led me to the discovery that Rick tends to select players at a positions of need in the first round, by this I mean, rarely, has he selected a player at a position that anyone would say was a team strength from the season before. Rick’s first round selections are below:
- 2007 Amobi Okoye DT
- 2008 Duane Brown OT
- 2009 Brian Cushing LB
- 2010 Kareem Jackson CB
- 2011 J.J. Watt DE
- 2012 Whitney Mercilus OLB
- 2013 DeAndre Hopkins WR
In order to determine need at the position picked lets look at the numbers and players from the year prior to these selections.
In the 2006 season, the Texans were ranked 25th in defense, only had 28 sacks tied for 27th in the league, and had no players play more than 12 games at the DT position. Obviously they needed some help on the inside of the defensive line; so with Rick Smith’s first pick as general manager he took the 20-year-old Amobi Okoye DT. Hindsight being what it is, obviously the pick didn’t work out, but its hard to argue that the pick was a mistake since they needed the help at that position so terribly.
In 2007 the Texans traded 2 second round picks to Atlanta for Matt Schaub, and then proceeded to let him get slaughtered behind an otrousious offensive line, to the tune of 22 sacks given up, 27th in the league. Matt only ended up playing 11 games. Determined to not put Schaub through the same torture as previous QB Carr the Texans then turned to Duane Brown OT in the 2008 draft to help shore up the blind side for Schaub.
In 2008 the Texans got obliterated by TEs, and teams could just line up and run the ball right at the Texans. They were in the bottom 10 in the league in rushing yards, TDs, and 1st downs allowed. So, that offseason everyone thought the Texans needed an OLB to help set the edge, cover TEs, and occasionally rush the passer. Many mock drafts had the Texans taking a LB from USC they just mostly missed on which one. Most people thought the Texans were going to take Clay Matthews, but the Texans never predictable selves decided on the other LB from USC Brian Cushing.
In 2009 the Texans were not woeful in the secondary and actually managed their best total defense in team history to that point, but on the heals of putting up decent numbers and blasting his general manager with a shoe writing fiasco, Dunta Robinson, decided to leave for greener pastures. This left a hole in the secondary because the only returning starter was going to be second year man Glover Quin. Therefore with everyone knowing the Texans needed corner help they did exactly as expected and drafted Kareem Jackson CB.
In 2010 the Texans were the most disappointing team in the league. After finally getting over the hump in 2009 and having their first winning record the Texans finished a putrid 6-10. The secondary AND their entire defense was atrocious, but Rick was banking on a turn around from Kareem Jackson CB and his ability to sign not one but two guys to help in secondary in Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning. With those signings the next biggest hole on the team appeared to be on the defensive line. The Texans were very unsure how their new defense would look going into this season with the addition of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, and after the Texans drafted the GOAT J.J. Watt DE, the picture became more clear as Phillips announced he would stand Mario Williams up and play him at outside linebacker.
In 2011 the Texans again found themselves trying to find help at pass rush with the departure of Mario Williams to Buffalo, however the Texans did find themselves in the playoffs for the first time. The thought for the first time wasn’t that the Texans needed a starter they needed a role player who could rush the passer situationally. Most national pundits had Whitney Mercilus OLB going much earlier in the draft so when he fell to the Texans they jumped on him.
Finally in 2012 the Texans were again in the playoffs but this time came up short offensively trying to find a receiver outside of Andre the Great Johnson who could consistently get open. In response to this need the Texans drafted DeAndre Hopkins WR.
Obviously, every team in the NFL has needs they try to address via the draft, but they do not always adhere to positional needs as strictly as the Texans with their first pick. Rick Smith has a pretty good track record with first rounders (I wish the same could be said with the other rounds). He envisions his first round picks as immediate starters and difference makers on the field, which has been the case for most of his picks and he always picks players that are at a position of great need on the team.
Want to get real deep with the draft picks? Click here. Mind=Blown.
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