As the 2010 season of your Houston Texans circled the drain, fans repeatedly voiced their opinions on the merits of Gary Kubiak returning as head coach of the Houston Texans for a sixth year. Although he's been general manager of the Texans since June 5, 2006 and thus in charge almost as long as Kubiak, Rick Smith, to a large degree, avoided the pitchforks and torches that people took up against or in favor of the embattled head coach. Notable exception: Back when it looked like Kubes was a goner, Jake wrote a great piece that questioned why it would make any sense to bring Rick Smith back if Kubiak was jettisoned. Now that it's official that Smithiak will return next season, I figure it's a good time to examine exactly what personnel moves have occurred on Rick Smith's watch.
Courtesy of the team's official website, you can easily find a list of all the transactions made by your Houston Texans. Select the year you want to examine, and then have at it. Quite the
frightening trip down memory lane, isn't it?
In this post, I want to focus on the acquisitions made by your Houston Texans via draft during the Smithiak Era. Not to minimize what they've done outside of the draft, but we've long heard about how the team wants to build itself through the draft, so I'm going to keep my attention there at the outset. I plan on doing a later post on the non-draft moves made by the Texans during the Smithiak Era, as any analysis of Smith should include non-drafted players and other personnel decisions; in Smith's case, it most definitely should include street free agent pickups, as he's been noticeably stout there.
Before we get into this, let's make sure we straighten out a common misconception: Rick Smith had absolutely nothing to do with the Texans' excellent 2006 draft. He was not employed by the Texans before or during the 2006 NFL Draft; Smith did not become a Texans employee until a little more than a month after the draft, when he was named GM. Consequently, Smith doesn't get credit for selecting Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Charles Spencer, Eric Winston, Owen Daniels, Wali Lundy, or David Anderson in what was far and away the best draft in franchise history.
Consequently, Rick Smith has been general manager of your Houston Texans for four (4) drafts--2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Specifically, the following Texans were drafted on Smith's watch (the round in which they were drafted is in parentheses after the player's name):
2007 (note that there was no second-round selection, as it was included in the trade that brought Matt Schaub to Houston, which was consumated in March of 2007)
2008 (again, no second-round pick, thanks to the Schaub trade)
Brian Cushing (1)
Connor Barwin (2)
Antoine Caldwell (3)
Glover Quin (4)
Anthony Hill (4)
James Casey (5)
Brice McCain (6)
Troy Nolan (7)
***Arian Foster was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 6, 2009.***
The lack of second-round picks in the 2007 and 2008 drafts means, in my mind, that you have to take Matt Schaub into account when evaluating those drafts. That's a good thing for Rick Smith, as The Schaub is really the only thing that keeps Smith's first two drafts as Texans GM from being truly horrifying as we examine them in 2011. As we sit here today, the Texans count two (2!) true draftees from the 2007 and 2008 classes--Amobi Okoye and Duane Brown--as starters.
As disappointing as that is, it should be noted that Steve Slaton and Fred Bennett were each very productive starters for one season before wildly regressing and/or getting injured, though that's of little comfort to the 2011 Houston Texans. Jacoby Jones has contributed in flashes, and Zac Diles proved capable of being in the rotation at linebacker for some period of time, even if he never quite managed to fulfill Kubes' dream of a Pro Bowl nod.
Harrison? Frye? Studdard? Molden? Adibi? Okam? Barber? Brink? None of them panned out, though it's fair to observe that Molden was the only one in that group taken before the fourth round.
It's surely too early to weigh in on the 2010 draft class, and I'd say it's probably still too early to definitively weigh in on the '09 draftees. That said, I'm not betting that Antoine Caldwell, Anthony Hill, Brice McCain, or Troy Nolan are going to set the football world on fire anytime soon.
As you review the list of players drafted since Rick Smith was named general manager of your Houston Texans, what do you think?