It wouldn't be a matching set without a Rick Smith to accompany your Gary Kubiak. A complete transcript of the Houston Texans' general manager's media session yesterday at the 2013 NFL Combine can be found here. In the interest of generating some discussion, I'll hit on a few of the more interesting passages for your immediate review below.
Scenario where Wade leans more away from three safeties or nickel?
"What I think is it gives him some options. If we have two inside backers who can stay on the field in passing situations and match up with better against [tight ends] I think that’s a positive. If he wants to employ a three-safety system in other situations whether it’s longer distances or a blitz package or whatever it is, if he wants to employ those, I think the more you have players who can stay on the field and impact the game I think that’s the option, that’s the ultimate for him because it gives him the flexibility that he likes."
Whitney Mercilus in year two...
"I am excited about his future. We never thought he would be there (at our spot last year), we don’t draft for need, we put value on players and we try to stay consistent with the board. When he was there last year we were very excited. I think he had six and a half sacks in limited playtime, but when you look at him production per play, it’s up there. He adds explosiveness, he’s adds pass rush, he adds speed to our defense and I’m excited to see him."
"That jump from year one to year two as I talk about very often, has to be exponential. He understands how important this offseason is to him and his development as a player. And I’m excited to watch that."
Getting Connor Barwin back...
"It’s high. I talk about all the time about our core players and Connor certainly is a part of that. We attempted to sign Connor last year, if you look back last year, last offseason. We did a lot of that. We signed our left tackle, we got Duane done. We got our running back done. We got our quarterback done. Even though Chris Myers made it to free agency we were able to sign him back. We were unsuccessful with signing Connor, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less important to what we’re doing. The thing about this league at this point in time is that you’ve got to continue to draft well, you’ve got to continue to develop players because the opportunity and possibility that you will lose players is a real one. And that’s just a function of the salary cap system that we are in now and we understand that but we certainly place a high value on Connor. His contribution to this football team, not only on the field but in the locker room and in the community, he’s a top notch guy and we’d love to keep him."
Right side of the offensive line...
"Obviously I think we got some real benefit from last year with the young guys being able to play the way that they did. I think Derek Newton has all the ability in the world to be a good right tackle. With the two young guys at the guard position, I’m excited for Brandon Brooks, he’s an explosive, big, unique athlete in our system. I think he’s got all the athleticism to execute what we need him to do. It’ll be exciting to watch him, again very analogous to what we just talked about with Whitney. His jump from this year to next year is going to have to be significant and I think he’s capable of doing that and so I am excited about that for both of those guys and Ben (Jones) as well."
Possible to franchise Glover Quin?
"Any option that’s available to you, I think you need to keep it available as long as you can. So that’s the way I would answer that."
What are you trying to learn about prospects?
"I’ve heard a lot of talk this week about how important medical is, and that’s A-Number-1 and how the interviews are important and I agree with that. But I do think that the other piece, the on field workout, is significantly important as well. Do you draft a player on height, weight and speed? No. But it’s a critical piece to the evaluation process, particularly when you have guys that are the best of the best. We’ve got 333 of the best here this weekend and you want to see them in competitive environments, you want to see them compete. So that’s a big part of it."
"The medical piece is certainly important. The interview portion, where you can look a man in his eye and talk to him and get to know him a little bit, albeit it’s a short amount of time. All those things are important, but again it’s a piece to the puzzle of the evaluation process."