Smithiak had its/their press conference at the Combine yesterday, and the official site has all the good stuff. Here are some highlights from the two-headed monster that is the shot-caller for your Houston Texans. Below are some of the highlights from the highlights.
(on if he will draft with the best-player-available approach) "We always do. We stay true to our board and that’s not a philosophy that we’re going to alter because I think it gives you the best chance to have success. If you assess value and you follow the value of your board and don’t stretch for need, because I think that’s where people make mistakes. We’ve not done that before and I would suspect that we stay true to that philosophy and not do that in the future."
(on how he approaches players who have issues off the field) "It’s a function of research and trying to get to know the player. We take a position that we don’t penalize a player or kill a player because he made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. What you don’t want, you don’t want repeat offenders because that will indicate something that’s maybe a deeper issues. We won’t just take a player off of our board for character reasons if he makes a single mistake. If there is repeated, repetitive behavior that suggests something different than that, then we become a little bit more concerned and that’s what this process is about. That’s what the process that our scouts have been evaluating these players over the last few months, so we’ll take all that information and assess how comfortable we feel or where we feel that there is a risk more so than another. Character is important. It’s always been important. I think again, I’ve said a lot, where you see that is in the fourth quarter. When you’ve got players that (have) quote en quote ‘character,’ what does that mean? That means that they’re disciplined, they execute when they’re supposed to execute. If you’ve got a team full of players who have that discipline in the fourth quarter, in the big time in the game where the pressure is at its height, those guys with discipline tend to continue to do the things that they need to do in order to perform and execute and continue to be successful."
(on if he takes a hard look at someone with first-round talent who has had two or three transgressions rather than discarding that player) "In my opinion, it’s all about the value. It’s how assess the risk. How much value are you going to place on a player or how much risk are you willing to take compared to where you think his behavior (is)."
(on if he anticipates more contract restructuring to help with the team’s salary cap situation) "Yeah. We have to. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to look at some deals and restructure some contracts and try to get as creative…I’ve challenged (vice president of football administration) Chris Olsen to come up with as many available opportunities that we have. The goal is to build the best football team that we can build."
(on if he’d be more aggressive trading up in the Draft if the opportunity arose now that his roster depth is as strong as it’s been) "Yeah, all of those things. Just because we haven’t done it doesn’t mean we haven’t run the exercise and thought about it and all of those kinds of things. It’s just that we have not been in the situation where it was proven to do it. We will still entertain any, and I’ve always said this, we will entertain any opportunity we can, whether it’s moving up or moving back to better our football team. Those moves, as you know, are expensive. You’ve got to make sure that if you’re going to do something, whether you’re talking about moving up 10 spots or however far, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a player that’s worth whatever the value is of the move. The last time we had this pick, we didn’t start the Draft with the 26th pick. We started I think at 20 and we moved back with Baltimore and traded back to 26 and picked up an extra third round pick. So we’re always moving and we’re always entertaining those options and if it’s something that we think will help us, then we’ll do it."
(on not drafting for need but making his first five draft picks defensive players last year) "Yeah, but again, when you hit the homerun, and I guess I would consider J.J. (Watt) to be a homerun, where you hit the homerun is as you stack your board and assess value. If you can pick a player at the corresponding spot that is a position of need, that’s a homerun. So you don’t go into the Draft saying ‘I’ve got to get this. I’ve got to get that,’ because, in my opinion, if you do that, you are inclined to reach and take a player that doesn’t meet the value. It’s not that you don’t select players in positions that you need. The key is that they have the corresponding value at the point where you are picking and if you do that, and you can hit a player at a position of need at the value spot, then you are good."
(on how important it is to address the wide receiver situation and if it makes him think he needs a No. 2 receiver who could become a No. 1) "Andre Johnson missed 10 games last year, it was a very difficult time for us not only losing our quarterback, but losing Andre.I thought Kevin Walter and Jacoby (Jones) played very well for our football team. But I do think it's important that we continue to develop young players. That is one position where we can do a little better job from that standpoint. I've got a lot of confidence in Kevin. I think he's a solid two in this league. And has been for me since I've been in Houston. And I think Jacoby made some strides last year as well. You're always trying to get better. And hopefully we'll continue to do that at that position.''
(QB Matt Schaub's progress and his timetable) "He's doing great. He actually asked me to play golf last weekend. So that tells you he's doing well. He's out of his boot. He's walking. He's doing everything he can do while he's in there every morning. I think our expectations for him once we get to OTAs, Iis he will do everything. He'll probably be excluded out of teamwork just to keep him out of harm's way. But all indications are he will be full speed sometime in May and he'll be ready to go in camp.''
(on the importance of free agent C Chris Myers and RG Mike Brisiel) "They mean a great deal. We've been able to play the same five guys up front for almost two, three years in a row and I think that's why we've made so much progress. Chris (Myers) is the leader of the group. He makes all the calls. He's been exceptional for us. We got Chris for a sixth round draft choice a few years ago. And (offensive line coach) John Benton's done a great job of developing him; Mike Brisiel as well. Mike was a free agent John did a great job of developing. The key in this business to being good in the long haul is holding people together. We've got that situation on our hands with those two players. And we're going to do everything we can to keep that group together moving forward."
(on if T.J. Yates or Matt Leinart is the Texans’ No. 2 quarterback going into next season) "If I had to go camp tomorrow, I got all three of those guys back in line. I know who my No. 1 is . What I would do is let T.J. (Yates) and Matt (Leinart) go back and battle for the backup spot behind Schaubby (Matt Schaub). I think those guys both did a good job with their opportunity. It's hard to fault Leinart with what happened to him. He played a half of football and was playing very well. They're both still young players making their way back up to the top. And T.J. of course still a young player. I think we'd just line them both up side by side and they'd go in there to battle to be the back up to Matt (Schaub)."
(on if CB Kareem Jackson has reached a level of expected consistency and if he’ll be pushed more by other teammates) "I think he got pushed last year by Jason Allen very much so. It was his best year. He responded to (defensive backs) coach (Vance) Joseph, who came in here with (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips). He was more consistent as a player last year. He was pretty much the same player from opening week to the end of the season. We’re excited about the progress he made. And remember, he was an early-out junior, early player so he should only get better. I think Jason pushing him week-in and week-out should only help him get better. We’ve been pleased with his progress."
(on if there is a trend of going after bigger cornerbacks given all the receiving tight ends in the League now) "I think so. Glover (Quin) was our best corner two years ago. We moved him to safety. It allows you defensively to keep your base defense on the field when people are going to two- or three-wide sets or when they’re playing the two tight ends to try and get mismatches on you. It does give you a lot of freedom as a defense playcaller. I know it was a big help to (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips). I think you'll going to probably see more movement that way. A lot of it has to do with your division, too. Sometimes, how’s your division built? Do you play a lot of three-wide teams? Do you play two-back teams. It just kind of all depends."