Comparing Rick Smith's and Bill Belichick's NFL Draft Hauls

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has been said about Rick Smith and how terrible your Houston Texans have been at drafting in recent years. I thought it would be interesting to compare the draft picks of the Texans GM and one Darth Vader of the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick is the Head Coach, GM, and all around ruler of the Patriots football universe so its fair to say he decides who is drafted and who isn't. Defining that for the Texans is a lot more cloudy.

As fans we don't really know who is calling the shots in the draft room, whether it was Kubiak, or now BOB, we don't know how much influence Rick Smith has, or how much he voices his opinion on who they should draft. But nevertheless these draft picks did all happen under him, so he deserves at least some of the credit (or blame) for these picks taking place. Now, how do the Texans stack up to one of the most successful franchises of the last decade? Lets take a look.

Rather than look at past years and give them letter grades on overall drafts or on a pick by pick basis I wanted to do something a bit more objective. Something that we could more so compare apples to apples. Rick Smith became the GM of the Texans in 2006 so I took every draft from 2007 to 2014 for the Texans and also the Patriots and compiled a list of the players and their current status in the NFL.

Texans Patriots
2007 Draft 2007 Draft
Round Player Where? Round Player Where?
1/10 Amobi Okoye NFI (Dal) 1/24 Brandon Meriweather SUS (Was)
3/73 Jacoby Jones B (Bal) 4/127 Kareem Brown Out
4/123 Fred Bennett Out 5/171 Clint Oldenburg Out
5/144 Brandon Harrison Out 6/180 Justin Rogers Out
5/163 Brandon Frye Out 6/202 Mike Richardson Out
6/183 Kasey Studdard Out 6/208 Justise Hairston Out
7/218 Zac Diles Out 6/209 Corey Hilliard B (Det)

7/211 Oscar Lua Out
2008 Draft 7/247 Mike Elgin Out
1/26 Duane Brown ST 2008 Draft
3/79 Antwaun Molden Out 1/10 Jerod Mayo ST
3/89 Steve Slaton Out 2/62 Terrence Wheatley Out
4/118 Xavier Adibi Out 3/78 Shawn Crable Out
5/151 Frank Okam Out 3/94 Kevin O'Connell Out
6/173 Dominique Barber Out 4/129 Jonathan Wilhite Out
7/223 Alex Brink Out 5/153 Matt Slater ST

6/197 Bo Ruud Out
2009 Draft 2009 Draft
1/15 Brian Cushing ST 2/34 Pat Chung B
2/46 Connor Barwin ST (Phi) 2/40 Ron Brace Out
3/77 Antoine Caldwell Out 2/41 Darius Butler B (Ind)
4/112 Glover Quin ST (Det) 2/58 Sebastian Vollmer ST
4/122 Anthony Hill Out 3/83 Brandon Tate B (Cin)
5/152 James Casey B (Phi) 3/97 Tyrone McKenzie Out
6/188 Brice McCain B (Pit) 4/123 Rich Ohrnberger B (SD)
7/223 Troy Nolan Out 5/170 George Bussey Out
2010 Draft 6/198 Jake Ingram Out
1/20 Kareem Jackson ST 6/199 Stryker Sulak Out
2/58 Ben Tate ST (Cle) 6/207 Myron Pryor Out
3/81 Earl Mitchell ST (Mia) 7/232 Julian Edelman ST
4/102 Darryl Sharpton IR (Was) 7/234 Darryl Richard Out
4/118 Garrett Graham ST 2010 Draft
5/144 Sherrick McManis B (Chi) 1/27 Devin McCourty ST
6/187 Shelley Smith B (Mia) 2/42 Rob Gronkowski ST
6/197 Trindon Holliday IR NYG) 2/53 Jermaine Cunningham IR (Jets)
7/227 Dorin Dickerson Out 2/62 Brandon Spikes ST (Buf)
2011 Draft 3/90 Taylor Price Out
1/11 J. J. Watt ST 4/113 Aaron Hernandez Jail
2/42 Brooks Reed ST 5/150 Zoltan Mesko Out
2/60 Brandon Harris B (Ten) 6/205 Ted Larsen B (Ari)
4/127 Rashad Carmichael Out 7/208 Thomas Welch Out
5/144 Shiloh Keo B 7/247 Brandon Deaderick B (NO)
5/152 T. J. Yates B (Atl) 7/248 Kade Weston Out
7/214 Derek Newton ST 7/250 Zac Robinson Out
7/254 Cheta Ozougwu 2011 Draft
2012 Draft 1/17 Nate Solder ST
1/26 Whitney Mercilus B 2/33 Ras-I Dowling B (Oak)
3/68 DeVier Posey B 2/56 Shane Vereen ST
7/76 Brandon Brooks ST 3/73 Stevan Ridley ST
4/99 Ben Jones ST 3/74 Ryan Mallett B (Hou)
4/121 Keshawn Martin B 5/138 Marcus Cannon B
4/126 Jared Crick ST 5/159 Lee Smith B (Buf)
5/161 Randy Bullock ST 6/194 Markell Carter Out
6/195 Nick Mondek Out 7/219 Malcolm Williams Out
2013 Draft 2012 Draft
1/27 DeAndre Hopkins ST 1/21 Chandler Jones ST
2/57 D.J. Swearinger ST 1/25 Dont'a Hightower ST
3/89 Brennan Williams Out 2/48 Tavon Wilson B
3/95 Sam Montgomery PR (Cin) 3/90 Jake Bequette PR
4/124 Trevardo Williams Out 6/197 Nate Ebner B
6/176 David Quessenberry NFI 7/224 Alfonzo Dennard ST
6/195 Alan Bonner IR 7/235 Jeremy Ebert Out
6/198 Chris Jones ST (Pat) 2013 Draft
6/201 Ryan Griffin B 2/52 Jamie Collins ST
2014 Draft 2/59 Aaron Dobson B
1/1 Jadeveon Clowney ST 3/83 Logan Ryan B
2/33 Xavier Su'a-Filo B 3/91 Duron Harmon ST
3/65 C. J. Fiedorowicz B 4/102 Josh Boyce PR
3/83 Louis Nix III B 7/226 Michael Buchanan B
4/135 Tom Savage B 7/235 Steve Beauharnais Out
6/177 Jeoffrey Pagan B 2014 Draft
6/181 Alfred Blue B 1/29 Dominique Easley B
6/211 Jay Prosch ST 2/62 Jimmy Garoppolo B
7/216 Andre Hal B 4/105 Bryan Stork B
7/256 Lonnie Ballentine IR 4/130 James White B
4/140 Cameron Fleming B
6/179 Jon Halapio Out
6/206 Jemea Thomas Out
7/244 Jeremy Gallon Out
Totals Totals
ST 20(5) ST 15(1)
B 19(7) B 21(9)
PR 1 PR 2
IR 4(2) IR 1(1)
NFI 2 Jail 1
Out 19 Out 31
Total 65 SUS 1(1)
Total 72

(For the charts above ST means that a player is listed first on their teams current depth chart. B means they are listed second or later on their teams current depth chart. IR stands for Injured Reserve. NFI is Non Football Injury. SUS means they are currently suspended. PR means they are on the Practice Squad. And Out means that player is not currently listed on any of the NFL's 32 teams current depth charts. In the totals at the bottom of the chart the first number is the total amount and the number in parentheses is the number of players not playing for the team that drafted them. So ST 20(5) means there are 20 players listed as starters in the NFL that were drafted by the Texans and 5 of them are currently employed by other teams. All info taken from Ourlads.)

So what does all this mean? Its hard to tell. 60% (39 of 65) of the Texans draft picks are still in the NFL, in either a starting or back up role. For the Patriots its 50% (36 of 72). Those numbers become a bit better if you count the players on IR and practice squads. 44 of 65 or 67% for the Texans and 39 of 72 or 54% for the Patriots. Because of the Patriots success as a football team they pick later in the draft so its easy to think they would have less success with their picks specifically in the later rounds. If we look at the first and second round picks for both teams we see that they've both had success and that only a couple of their picks are no longer in the NFL or haven't played meaningful football lately (Okoye).

The NFLPA says that the average career of an NFL player lasts around 3.3 years. Taking that into consideration we can't really expect many of the 2007, 2008, or 2009 later round draft picks to be in the league any more, and for the most part for these two teams there aren't many players left from those drafts.

One common idea is that the 2013 Texans draft was terrible, but comparing it to other drafts is it really? They drafted 3 current NFL starters, a back up TE, and two players who if not for injuries or lymphoma were expected to be at least back ups.

Without comparing all or most of the NFL teams in this manner it is hard to tell whether this is a good or bad success rate for either of these teams, but I have to believe if you've drafted more players on current NFL rosters than the Patriots you're doing something at least partially right. I know this method doesn't take into account individual player success and that is a huge part of drafting but drafting players who stay on NFL rosters versus being cut has to have some value to it. At first glance at least it would seem that the Rick Smith drafts haven't all been as terrible as we think they've been.

I'd also be very interested to hear any opinions of those of you who are Pats fans. I'm not sure what the common thoughts are of the Pats and Belichick as drafters, are they considered good? Bad? Mediocre? Leave it in the comments!