How the Texans' 2014 Free Agents will influence the 2013 Draft

If there's one thing we've come to expect from Rick Smith in the draft, it's the unexpected (and initially ungratifying).

Basically, if you listen to this board after the first round draft pick by the Texans each year, you'd think Rick Smith was a moron. Over the last 5 years though, Smith has been a bit of a genius. His picks might not be great out of the gate, but aside from last year's pick (Whitney Mercilus), all are now anchors for this franchise.

So what is Rick Smith doing right? I don't know, because if I did, I'd be making a ton of money and keeping this information to myself! Here's what I suspect, though. Over the last 5 years, Smithiak has shown a tendency to draft with near future needs in mind:


1st Rd Pick

Possible Departing Player (PDP)

PDP’s Free Agency Year


Duane Brown

Ephraim Salaam



Brian Cushing

Morlon Greenwood



Kareem Jackson

Dunta Robinson



JJ Watt

Mario Williams



Whitney Mercilus

Connor Barwin


This is important not because it helps us determine which player Rick Smith will pick. No, no, no. We'll still be flabbergasted by that. But at least we can get a pretty good idea of what position he'll be drafting (and knowing that is half the battle). Considering how well rounded this franchise has become in the last two or three years, this is a big help because it's not like we're drafting for obvious, glaring needs. Now we're drafting BPA to fill middling needs. So with this in mind, we need to be considering 2014 free agents when identifying needs in the draft. Here is the list of upcoming Texans free agents in the 2013 and 2014 offseason:

(# on Actv Rstr)

2013 FAs

2014 FAs

% Turnover If None Signed

RB (3)

Justin Forsett

Ben Tate


FB/TE (4)

James Casey

Garrett Graham


OG (4)

Wade Smith


OT (4)

Rashad Butler


DE (4)

Antonio Smith


DT (3)

Shaun Cody

Earl Mitchell


ILB (5)

Tim Dobbins

Brian Cushing


Bradie James

OLB (5)

Connor Barwin

Bryan Braman


CB (6)

Brice McCain


SS (3)

Glover Quin


K (1)

Shayne Graham


P (1)

Donnie Jones


Running Back and OLB are both positions of concerns, but may be addressed by resigning some of our own free agents this year. Even if Brooks Reed moves to inside linebacker, we have a lot of concerns for the ILB position past 2014. Most glaringly though, we have problems at DT, which will be further inflamed by the possible loss of situational DT Antonio Smith and full-time DT Earl Mitchell both being free agents (especially considering Shaun Cody is not likely to be viewed as a starting option going forward...we hope).

Considering both the need for additional talent at ILB and DT as well as potential personnel losses at that position this season and next, I have to figure that both get addressed in the first three rounds. If I had to pick one though, I'd say we go for a DT in Round 1 to cushion against the possible loss of Antonio Smith next year in addition to providing a looooong overdue talent infusion at the position. It's probably hopeless #NTlust, I know.

So, given our current and future Free Agents listed above, as well as my crude stab at what influences Rick Smith's decision-making, does this change what positions you want addressed in this draft and in what rounds you want them addressed?

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