March 7, 2007
Rick’s BPA Draft
by Bob Hulsey
Texans general manager Rick Smith is a young man. If he displays exceptional skill at his new job, he might be conducting NFL drafts for the next 30 years, well into the next generation of Bush or Clinton administrations.
He won’t have an easier draft that the one coming up next month. To put it bluntly, he needs everything.
As Dr. Ron might say, write this down. There is no position on the Houston Texans that could not use an upgrade. If you blinked, I’ll repeat: There is no position on the Houston Texans that could not use an upgrade.
That’s quite a statement for a team that finished with a two-game winning streak, including the defeat of the eventual Super Bowl Champion Colts. But, it’s true.
We need people who can block. We need people who can tackle. We need people who can throw the football, catch the football, kick the football and run with the football. We need people who can rush the quarterback. We need people who can stop the rush. We need people who can defend the pass. We need everything but a new stadium.
Even in the expansion season of 2002, the Texans had some positions covered. They had two skilled veteran cornerbacks and two skilled veteran defensive tackles. There was no need to draft more.
After the meltdown season of 2005, the Texans might have seemed bereft of talent but the fans had been assured that their quarterback of the future was already in the fold. Not to worry. That’s why there was no need to look at that prodigy in Austin with the big glass football twirling on his index finger. He wouldn’t be needed.
The Texans also had no need to look at wide receiver last spring, what with Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds in place along with backups like Kevin Walter and Jerome Mathis waiting in the wings (of course, the Texans took a receiver anyway).
This year is a different story. Moulds is gone so there’s a need to upgrade at wide receiver. Dunta Robinson is a fine corner but we could sure use another just like him. DeMeco Ryans was a revelation at middle linebacker but, if another middle linebacker looked like the best player available come Houston’s turn on the clock, he can be shifted to the weakside spot with ease.
And, remarkably, it took just one year for our quarterback of the future to be shopped around like an old Serta display model that Mattress Mac priced for clearance. So we could be looking at a new signal-caller on the first day too.
Everywhere else, the need to upgrade seems pretty obvious just from listening to whom everyone thinks we should draft. One week, it’s a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Next week, it’s a rush end. For some, it’s the anchor at left tackle we’ve desperately craved since Day One. For others, it’s a sleek running back who can eventually replace Ahman Green. Some want to upgrade at safety so badly they can taste it. Others want a center, a guard, or a fullback.
Smith’s shopping list is about as long as they get in the NFL. How this team won six games last year seems almost miraculous when you consider how awful the talent was. Heck, our Pro Bowl representative shows up in Honolulu every year looking like the designated Kansas City Royal at the All-Star Game. He’s there because, well, somebody had to.
Still, Smith should find the lengthy need list liberating in a way. As Bob Dylan used to sing "when you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose." Smith can simply line up his draft board and then, when it’s his turn, take the top name still left on the list. It’s that easy. Rick could sit there with a Staples’ "Easy Button" and just mail them in. Sure, he’ll have some trade offers to mull over and there will be scouts and coaches lobbying to take this guy or that guy.
However, in the end, Smith can take whomever he does and he’ll know that he not only addressed a need but got the proverbial "best player available" because there’s no position he doesn’t need to upgrade. Whoever’s at the top of his draft board, that should be his man.
Assuming this franchise ever figures out their aspirations from a hole in the ground, Smith’s job will get tougher. In future years, he’ll find sometimes he has to weigh getting the neediest position filled or getting the best talent. It’s the dilemma most of the others in his new fraternity will be facing in April.
But, for his first time, Rick Smith has it easy. Any choice can be spun into the right choice with very little effort because few will need to be convinced that we didn’t need to go get a player like that – whoever that player is.
If Bill Parcells’ analogy of "buying the groceries" can be applied, Rick will be the contestant on "Supermarket Sweep". As long as you got it before the clock runs out, it’s all good.
Bob Hulsey will produce his own mock draft column next month or he may just hit the "easy button" and steal it from Roy.
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