AFC South: Rick Smith

INDIANAPOLIS -- In a draft class that wasn't especially productive, one of the most useful players the Houston Texans selected last season was running back Alfred Blue.

Blue was a sixth-round pick out of LSU, joining an armada of rookies out of LSU to have solid starts to their NFL careers. For Blue that meant becoming the first player in Texans history to score touchdowns on a return, a reception and a rush.

The Texans could look at that position again this season, for a variety of reasons.

"I think when you look at our needs in the draft, I would say running back is a position that we could look at," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "I’m not going to tell you exactly what type of running back we’re looking for, but that’s something that we could probably add to our team in some shape or form that would help our team if the right guys out there."

Arian Foster is still a dynamic running back when he's healthy, but with each passing day, the need to manage his health becomes more and more important. He turns 29 in August and missed three full games last season and parts of three others due to injuries.

"I think any time a player reaches that age of 30 or close to that age of 30 (you have to manage him)," O'Brien said. "And you know that the guy can still play, you know that he is a very talented player. Arian is a very talented guy in a lot of phases. He can run the ball, he can catch the ball, he’s a good pass protector, he’s a smart football player, but you’ve got to manage him. How do you manage that? You manage him in practice. You manage him in the games. That’s something we’ll always take into account."

This year's draft class is conducive to getting a solid running back.

"There is a good group of running backs, good looking group that just weighed in," Texans general manager Rick Smith said. "It’s a good looking group."

This year's group should include a first-rounder in Georgia's Todd Gurley or Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon. There's plenty of talent beyond that too, in players like Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, Miami's Duke Johnson, Alabama's T.J. Yeldon and Northern Iowa's David Johnson.

The problem for running backs, though, is that there isn't a premium on snapping them up early. Teams have had so much success waiting with running backs or even finding them undrafted. Two of the three running backs on the Texans' roster were never drafted.

That could be a boon for the Texans, who draft 16th overall. They'll probably have options that could help them into the second round.
Six weeks removed from having had microfracture surgery, Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is still working through the relatively early stages of rehab. He can't put weight on his surgically repaired right knee just yet.

Texans general manager Rick Smith offered this update in an appearance on Sirius XM NFL radio:
"That surgery requires a pretty significant amount of time that you are not weight bearing, and then you kind of gotta work yourself back to it. He's been diligent in his rehab. That's the thing he can control right now. He understands that. It's an arduous process for him because he's limited right now in what he can do. There's just a few exercises that he can do to maintain some of the strength in his leg. Once he gets to the point where he can put weight on the leg again and start to really get into a rehab process, I know he's anxious to do that. He's anxious to make the contributions that we all know he's capable of making. Some of the things, the flashes that we saw even in the preseason, it's important to him that he returns to full health so that he can contribute and help our football team."

Clowney suffered a lateral meniscus tear and articular cartilage damage in a non-contact injury he suffered during the first game of the Texans' season. He had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the injury, and the Texans had hoped that was all that would be necessary. But when the knee wasn't performing properly, they resorted to microfracture.

Microfracture surgery involves poking tiny holes into the knee to increase blood flow and help the cartilage regenerate on its own. The recovery from that surgery is difficult, the rehab is demanding and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 draft has a lot of it ahead of him.
HOUSTON - -Texans general manager Rick Smith acknowledged the inconsistency that's plagued his team on Monday, but just as his head coach Bill O'Brien, Smith appreciates the mental toughness he sees in the Houston Texans.

"We can’t make some of the mistakes that we’ve made and dig some of the holes that we’ve dug ourselves and expect to win," Smith said. "I think our guys understand that, but they’re committed. I like the work ethic. I like what I see so far from the coaching staff and the team, and I look for us to continue to get better."

As for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's performance in particular:

"I think it’s been inconsistent," Smith said. "I think he’s played well in spurts and it’s much like the balance of the rest of the football team. We’re all searching, you always search for that game where you play the perfect game. None of us have done that so far, so we’ve got to continue to work at that."

Smith spoke to media after an event for Head Up Football, during which he spoke to youth football players and then presented a series of checks to their teams.

His fall has otherwise been divided between college games in preparation for the 2015 draft and monitoring the Texans' roster.

"I’ve been on the road quite a bit," he said. "I’ve got a few games, I like live exposure. It shows you a little bit more than just the tape exposure, so as many of these prospects as I can see live, I try to do that."

It is, of course, not a perfect science. Smith was asked about the 2013 draft class, more than half of which is no longer on the Texans' roster. The three that remain on the active roster are receiver DeAndre Hopkins, safety D.J. Swearinger and tight end Ryan Griffin. Asked if he can call it a disappointment, Smith pointed instead to the learning opportunity.

"Each individual case with those players was individualized, so you have to look at that," Smith said. "We’re always constantly assessing our process to make sure that we have a good process in place that give sus a chance to make good decisions. Sometimes it’s going to be a good outcome, sometimes it won’t be. But as long as you are identifying what the issues are, with each individual case, and make sure your process is something that is solid, I think you give yourself a chance to have success."

Smith, O'Brien and Godsey on Mallett

September, 4, 2014
HOUSTON -- The Texans' intention to acquire Ryan Mallett from the New England Patriots had been rumored for months.

On Wednesday, three days after the trade officially happened, I finally got a chance to talk with the relevant parties from the Houston Texans: head coach Bill O'Brien, quarterbacks coach George Godsey and general manager Rick Smith.

A look at what they had to say about the Texans' new No. 2 quarterback.

RICK SMITH, Texans general manager

History with Mallett: Studied him during the 2011 draft, but never met with him
[+] EnlargeRyan Mallett
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesRyan Mallett's offensive coordinator during his rookie season with New England was current Texans coach Bill O'Brien.
He says: "He was a talent (coming out of college). There have been a lot of people, if you talk to the folks, that had him as a potential first-round talent. We did our due diligence as well. I thought that New England did a smart thing where they took him. He’s developed in that system over time. He hasn’t had a chance to play, of course, but the fact that he’s been in the NFL for this long, he’s seen game plans, he understands how to prepare each week. So that, he’s got that kind of experience. He’s here, he’s learning, he’s got his head down, he’s working hard and that’s what we ask of him. ... We started talking on Sunday, the day we made the trade. We hadn’t had any conversations prior to that. We started talking on Sunday and we made the trade.... I know there were a lot of rumors about (conversations during the draft), but we didn’t."
For context: The Texans did take a quarterback in the 2011 draft -- T.J. Yates taken in the fifth round. Mallett fell to the third round despite being considered by some to have first-round talent because of character concerns. New England didn't have problems with him throughout his tenure there, which was enough for Smith to believe in him in that respect. Mallett is really connected more to other parties, though.

BILL O'BRIEN, Texans head coach

History with Mallett: Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in New England the year the Patriots drafted Mallett.
He says: "Three years older. I believe he’s a guy that’s worked hard. He understands the pro game better than he did obviously, when he was a rookie. I think he’s worked extremely hard. You can tell on things like being in the weight room, he’s worked on his accuracy and he’s definitely improved in his knowledge of our offense. That’s obvious. He’s a guy that just has to keep working, keep improving and like I said, he’s our number two quarterback and it’s good to have him here."
For context: O'Brien knows Mallett better than probably any other NFL head coach with the possible exception of Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The fact that he believed in Mallett's ability enough to want him on the roster is a big vote of confidence. It's difficult to know what Mallett will be when and if he plays in regular-season games, but that happens when a guy plays behind Tom Brady.

GEORGE GODSEY, Texans quarterbacks coach

History with Mallett: Offensive assistant with New England Mallett's rookie year
He says: "The first thing is you have to be willing to put the time in. Ryan was able to do that than, and obviously that was three years ago. It’s about putting the time in now with our system and really trying to catch up almost in a faster format because there is a little bit more you have to teach a rookie quarterback as opposed to a quarterback that maybe has been in the league a little bit. ... Anytime with any position there is familiarity, but it’s not only the personality but how you can relate what one system is apples and the other system is oranges and try to put that together into one common language. I think it makes the process a little bit easier."
For context: Mallett said Godsey taught him the Patriots' offense in New England. Coming here, has been easier for Mallett because of the aforementioned familiarity. He said he's glad he's not a rookie making this transition one week before the season opener, because it would be much harder. I relayed that to Godsey, who said that's an understatement given everything a rookie has to learn even if he doesn't switch teams in September.
HOUSTON -- The panic was palpable as the first-round closed.

There the Texans were, having taken Jadeveon Clowney first overall then having sat pat for the rest of the first round, rather than addressing what remains their biggest need.

Blake Bortles went third overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnny Manziel waited hours until the Cleveland Browns took him 22nd. The Minnesota Vikings traded up to the 32nd pick, one slot before the Texans drafted next, to take Teddy Bridgewater. And just like that, the three most talked-about quarterbacks in this year's draft were gone.

Panic in the streets.

Only, if you listened to what the Texans have been saying since March, this fits.

They said they didn't see three clear-cut top players. Coach Bill O'Brien said he didn't see much separation between that trinity and other quarterbacks. General manager Rick Smith agreed.

"There's some depth in this draft class in general and I think one of the positions that illustrates that is the quarterback position," Smith told me on March 25. "A lot of people talk about the three guys Manziel, Bortles, and Bridgewater, but there’s some good quarterbacks out there, the whole group."

On the same day, O'Brien mentioned Alabama's AJ McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo and Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, when bringing up names of other "guys that can play quarterback." He didn't mention Derek Carr, David's younger brother, but some (including Mel Kiper) consider him to be the best quarterback remaining in the draft.

That the Texans have waited fits.

Trust me, they realize it's a need. It was a need even before Houston traded Matt Schaub away to the Raiders. His story with the Texans was finished. This new Texans regime has no intention of going into 2014 with only the three quarterbacks they have now -- Ryan Fitzpatrick, signed in free agency, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates. If that happens, something went wrong. They've had internal discussions about Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, but as of Thursday evening they have had no talks with the Patriots.

The Texans considered moving back into the late first round, but apparently decided against it. And while I think getting Clowney and Bridgewater in the same draft would have been one heck of a coup, their sights clearly weren't set on the former Louisville quarterback.

The Texans had the night to reset and the morning to take a look at their draft board and decide what to do. We won't know for a while -- maybe a few more years -- whether they made the right move to watch Bortles, Manziel and Bridgewater slip by. But what we do know right now is the Texans are doing what they said they would.

They are acting like they told the truth all along.
Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith did his pre-draft press conference Thursday. He answered some questions clearly, some vaguely and some, defensively, not at all.

Let's take a stab at translating his words into what they actually mean.

On if he's determined how far he would trade down with the No. 1 pick: "No, I have not determined much of anything yet. There's a bunch of options out here for us and what I can tell you is that we're going to do everything to get this team as good as we can get it and increase the talent on this football team as best we can through next weekend."

What I think he means: If we set a floor then a team willing to overpay for the first pick might shy away from trying.

On if they stay with the first selection they know who they want: "It's fascinating to me that this is such an intricate question. What I'm saying is we have valued and ranked our board. If we take the first pick, we know who we want. What I'm saying is I don't know. We are obviously open to moving out of the first pick, if in fact there is an opportunity for us to do so and if we think that is in the best interest of the organization. That's what I'm saying if that provides any clarity."

What I think he means: Hey, other teams, I know who I want and it could be who you want. Maybe I'll take who you want if you don't jump up here and get him! (By the way, his fascination at my request for clarity was fascinating to me. We need it because Smith keeps throwing "I don't knows" and plurals where there shouldn't be any into his answers, leaving things more vague than they need to be. Vagueness is en vogue around draft time, but here he did clearly say he he knows who he will take if he stays with the first overall pick. Reiterating what he said back in January, that he'd be open to trading the pick, shades this, though. By saying he knows who he would take first overall, but not revealing the name of that player, he's holding a threat over other teams.)

On what stands out in terms of the depth of the draft: "I know there has been a lot of talk about the depth of the draft. I do think there are positions in this draft that are deep. I think there are other positions that are pretty consistent with the yearly averages. There are some good players in this draft. I've said before, I like the board. I really do. I think there is value throughout the draft. In each round there are good players and there is good value throughout the entirety of the draft and that is exciting."

What I think he means: Yes, the draft is deep, but if I honestly answer this question with specifics, everyone will know my plans.

On what kind of interest he's had from around the league on trading for the No. 1 pick: "What I try to do, is we try to have a bit of a bunker mentality when we're working through the process to eliminate any type of outside influences, so it's at this point where I'm kind of coming out of the hole to look and see what other people are saying and starting to make some of those phone calls and starting to call around, just like I do every year to show my colleagues across the league know that we're interested in anything that's going to help our football team improve. I'm starting those conversations now and certainly will keep those private but that's no different than any year. We are always talking and making sure people know that we're open to any opportunity that's available for us to improve our team."

What I think he means: Hey, other teams, there's still plenty of time to make an offer.
Reading the coverage of the Texans...

In the wake of inside linebacker Brian Cushing's signing, the Houston Chronicle created a slideshow of the highest-paid Texans sorted by guaranteed money. In order: receiver Andre Johnson, quarterback Matt Schaub, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, left tackle Duane Brown, Cushing, running back Arian Foster, center Chris Myers, defensive end Antonio Smith, defensive end J.J. Watt (on his fully guaranteed rookie deal), tight end Owen Daniels and safety Danieal Manning.

Dale Robertson of the Chronicle begins this day-after story on Cushing's extension with a fun anecdote about Cushing head-butting Justin Tuggle before the Texans' preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. It is quite possible the most Brian Cushing of all anecdotes. Robertson also uses some of Cushing's thoughts from his press conference yesterday.

During the press conference, Cushing and general manager Rick Smith talked about how closely they kept in touch during Cushing's rehab. Smith paid serious attention on his own, and Cushing made sure he knew every time Cushing hit a new milestone. He sent photos and videos regularly to show his general manager how well he was healing. Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press starts there.

A view from the other side: Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune scouts the Texans. He calls Watt, Foster, Cushing and Johnson players in the top five at their position (forgetting Brown, who I'd certainly say is in the top five at left tackle), but calls Schaub "more caretaker than playmaker."
When you interview someone in their office, the office becomes part of the interview.

So when I sat down across from Texans' general manager Rick Smith three months ago, I looked around to see what noteworthy details would find their way into my story. I didn't notice the most interesting thing: an empty glass box.

During the course of the interview Smith pointed it out. He's not shy about the Texans' expectations, and neither are most of the members of the organization.

That empty glass box matched two others that aren't empty. They contain footballs that commemorate the two Super Bowl wins he was part of with the Denver Broncos.

The empty box awaits his first Texans' Super Bowl ball.

My final piece for the Houston Chronicle profiled Smith and ran on Sunday in the Chronicle's special section.

In it, Smith gives insight into why he has been so successful at such a young age. He talked about the lessons he learned from a semester he had to spend at a junior college, away from Purdue, when he became academically ineligible.

We also talked about balance, meditation and his spiritual beliefs.

My favorite little anecdote in the story was one about how Smith's first NFL job came to be. Very shortly after he took a job with TCU, the Broncos called to offer him a job.

To the shock of his new coworkers, he turned it down.

"I felt like I was led to TCU," he said.

He spent the spring with TCU, then returned to Indiana to finish moving out of his apartment. He had already requested for his phone service to be turned off and went back one last time to an apartment that was completely empty except the phone in the kitchen.

Then the phone began to ring. A Broncos employee on the other line said Mike Shanahan wanted to know why he turned them down. They did what it took that time to hire Smith.

RTC: Texans' window is not closing

September, 2, 2013
The Houston Chronicle printed its special section this weekend, and the section discussed whether or not the Texans window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl was closing. Mostly they concluded "not," such as in this story by Dale Robertson and this column by Jerome Solomon. The rest of the section looks at what teams could stand in the Texans' way, what Matt Schaub's role will be and how general manager Rick Smith arrived at his position. The story on Smith was my last piece for the Chronicle, and I'll have some more thoughts on it later in the day.

Antonio Smith resurfaces again to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle and to Mark Berman of Fox 26. He tells them he forgives Richie Incognito. And himself.

Unlike Tim Tebow, three Texans cuts did not make it through the waiver-wire system. Tyler Clutts got claimed by Miami, Dennis Johnson by Cleveland and Chris Jones by Tampa Bay, writes Dave Zangaro of

Links: Laurent Robinson looking for a team

July, 17, 2013
Houston Texans

Gregg Rosenthal of sat down with Texans GM Rick Smith on Wednesday for an interview that included an update on safety Ed Reed.

Stephanie Stradley of the Houston Chronicle takes a detailed look at the Texans' third-and-long running plays last season. columnist Pete Prisco ranks the NFL head coaches, and Houston's Gary Kubiak is the highest-rated AFC South coach, coming in at No. 16.

The team's website, doing a series featuring interviews with Texans position coaches to get their thoughts on the projected starters, continues with tight ends coach Brian Pariani discussing starter Owen Daniels.

Indianapolis Colts

Kevin Bowen continues the team website's series profiling the burning questions at each position with a look at running back and receiver.

Jacksonville Jaguars

It has been four months since the Jaguars released him and eight months since he suffered the last of four concussions in 2012, but free-agent receiver Laurent Robinson says he is symptom free and ready to give the NFL one more shot, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today sports.

As training camp nears, the Florida Times-Union’s Ryan O’Halloran breaks down the Jaguars’ depth at every position. Up next is linebacker, where depth could be an issue.

Tennessee Titans

John Glennon of The Tennessean analyzes the Titans' running backs entering training camp.

Titans running back Chris Johnson will appear as a guest judge on next week’s episode of Spike TV’s reality-competition series “Ink Master,” writes Glennon. The episode premieres Tuesday. Johnson, who got his first tattoo in seventh grade, will join series host Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) and renowned tattoo artists Chris Nunez (“Miami Ink”) and Oliver Peck (Elm Street Tattoo) as a judge for the episode entitled “Thrills For Grills.”
The Texans have said for some time that their intention is to extend the contract of linebacker Brian Cushing and defensive lineman Antonio Smith.

The two are key pieces to Wade Phillips’ defense, and need to be around long-term.

New deals would also help the Texans gain some cap cushion. Cushing’s 2013 cap number is $4.643 million; Smith’s is $9.5 million.

As far as Cushing knows, no conversations have started up, per Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle. He allowed for the possibility that his agent has talked to the Texans and said he wouldn’t necessarily know. He’s concentrating on knee rehab.

While I understand the singular focus players like Cushing like to have, even in May, I also think an agent is bound to mention to a client that some level of contract talks have kicked off. Cushing is represented by Drew Rosenhaus.

Cushing’s ACL tear suffered early in the 2013 season certainly didn’t help accelerate things. All reports say he’s recovered well however, and will be ready to go for training camp. So any concerns about the knee that might have prompted the Texans to wait before initiating contract talks should be past.

“I know it wasn’t the best thing to really help with getting it done,” he told Ganguli. “I think they know the kind of player I am, they know I’ll come back to be the same player if not better, so I’ve got that going for me. I’m on the right track right now and very confident that I’ll be back and won’t miss a step.”

There is no real ticking clock here. General manager Rick Smith doesn’t talk contract during the season. The Texans got deals done with Duane Brown and Matt Schaub last year, with Schaub’s deal revealed after the team’s opening day game.

If the Texans fail to extend Cushing and/or Smith, it won’t be because they didn’t have sufficient time or because they didn’t give it a solid shot.
Sam MontgomeryBrett Davis/USA TODAY Sports"I'm sure with the right coaching I will be fine," Sam Montgomery said of questions about his effort.

During his time at the NFL scouting combine, Sam Montgomery addressed concerns about the consistency of his effort as a college player.

The problem is that he admitted there were concerns about his effort as a college player.

He’s now a member of the Houston Texans, who Friday used their second third-round pick, 95th overall, on Montgomery, the LSU defensive end.

If there is an effort issue, it will fall on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and linebackers coach Reggie Herring to get week-to-week and snap-to-snap effort from Montgomery. He seems to be a more complex character than they discussed.

At the combine, Montgomery said he didn’t play all-out because weak opponents allowed for some respite.

“You know, some weeks when we didn't have to play the harder teams, there were some times when effort was not needed,” Montgomery said in Indianapolis. “But when we had the big boys coming in, the Bamas or the South Carolinas, I grabbed close to those guys and went all-out.

“Of course, this is a new league, the NFL, and there are no small teams, small divisions. It is all Alabamas and LSUs every week. It's definitely something I have to get adjusted to, but I'm sure with the right coaching I will be fine.”

In a conference call with Houston media, Montgomery said his best quality is his relentlessness -- contradicting the idea that he didn’t give his all against teams like North Texas, Idaho and Towson.

Herring suggested that Montgomery got caught up in entertaining the media, given that he likes to talk, and that his film didn’t show a lack of effort -- something general manager Rick Smith has said he cannot accept from a player.

“If anything, the young man is guilty of being a bit na´ve," Herring said.

A scout I asked about Montgomery didn’t reply with an effort question.

“He plays very hard,” he said. “Good pick.”

The Texans plan to start Montgomery out as a strongside linebacker, so their first four picks have addressed three areas of concern.

DeAndre Hopkins should be the No. 2 receiver, D.J. Swearinger could play a lot as a nickel or dime safety, tackle Brennan Williams could win the right-side job from the recovering Derek Newton and Montgomery should be part of a rotation.

Houston hopes he’ll be part of a three-man gang, along with Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus, that splits up the work at outside linebacker.

Last season, when the Texans drafted Mercilus in the first round, they said the same thing about using him with Connor Barwin and Reed.

But Reed’s playing time only really dipped when he missed four games hurt. Barwin, who’s since gone to Philadelphia as a free agent, played 93.8 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Even with four starts, Mercilus was on the field only 46.6 percent of the time.

The Texans will have to learn how well Montgomery can drop and cover, something he wasn’t doing as a college defensive end in a 4-3 scheme under LSU coordinator John Chavis.

“He’s big, strong, powerful, explosive individual,” Herring said. “The one thing that he will have to learn is that he will have to learn to drop a little bit and things that he hasn’t done as a defensive end at LSU -- understanding that they don’t cultivate OLBs in college, so we have to pull from the defensive end position.

“Basically, you have to give and take with their ability to drop out in space, something they haven’t done. That remains to be seen. That’s something we’ll have to work on. As far as playing the run and having pass rush skills and having the play strength that’s above average in college, he has a foundation to be a good outside backer for us.”

One thing that might have hastened the draft drop by Montgomery, once rated as a first-round prospect, was his inclusion on a list of 10 players by LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt.

Moffitt posted the names for scouts and said they were athletes who “miss workouts and always have an excuse.”

“They lack the self discipline and motivation to take care of their responsibilities,” the sign on an office door in the Tigers' facility said. “I will not answer questions regarding their performance numbers or character, as they care only about themselves.” scout Matt Williamson said he likes the idea of Montgomery as a strongside linebacker in Phillips’ system.

“They really play a 5-2, so strongside 5-2 defensive end/outside linebacker,” Williamson said. “Supposedly had some awful interviews at combine, though.”

Williamson is the second person in one night who mentioned that to me.

Clearly, Montgomery’s interview with Houston was fine, but a guy who bombed in multiple other opportunities seems concerning.

Perhaps what Montgomery said about playing with Antonio Smith hints that he can qualify as wacky to some, wacko to others.

Montgomery said he knows Smith, the Texans defensive end who calls himself the "ninja assassin."

"I'm willing to take the ninja's teaching," Montgomery said, “and make ninjasonic out of it."
Reading the coverage ...

Some final mock drafts from smart and informed people: Mike Mayock of NFL Network, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe, Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle blog and Ben Standig of Fantasy Football Toolbox, who had a great hit rate last year.

The Jaguars, Titans and Texans will be among the 15 teams that have draft room cameras as part of NFL Network’s coverage.

Houston Texans

Rick Smith has a good track record late in the first round and the 27th pick has provided some good players in recent drafts, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Because they can play Brooks Reed inside or out, the Texans have flexibility with what kind of linebacker they add in the draft, says Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle.

Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins is John McClain’s final mock draft pick for the Texans.

Five of the Texans' last seven first-rounders started 16 games, says Ganguli.

Arian Foster landed a role in the Kevin Costner movie “Draft Day,” according to KTRK in Houston. (Hat tip to the Chron.)

Indianapolis Colts

Three guys the Colts could draft at No. 24 from Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star: receiver Hopkins, defensive end Damontre Moore and defensive end Datone Jones.

What are the Colts looking for? Anything but a quarterback, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

Wilson has some questions about things Bill Polian has said recently at ESPN that clash with what he did as head of the Colts.

No. 24 is historically a good spot, says Brian Resutek of The Wall Street Journal. (Hat tip to Colts Authority.)

A seven-round Colts mock draft from Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue includes a trade of the first-round pick.

Jacksonville Jaguars

A franchise in dire need of cornerstone players is in prime position to draft one second overall, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

The second round looks to be trickier than the first for first-year general manager David Caldwell, says Gene Frenette of the Times-Union.

There is more information compiled on prospects than ever before, but it doesn’t mean that teams are drafting better, says Vito Stellino of the Times-Union.

To which I say: Stellino tends to theorize that the draft is mostly about luck, and I heartily disagree. Luck is involved, but the best drafters aren’t simply consistently luckier than their colleagues.

Pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah is the mock pick (subscription required) to the Jaguars at No. 2 for O’Halloran while John Oehser of goes with offensive tackle Eric Fisher.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network says the Jaguars will take quarterback Ryan Nassib with the 33rd pick if he’s there.

Tennessee Titans

Titans general manager Ruston Webster and a lot of writers who try to forecast the draft say this one is particularly difficult to predict, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Capsules on the guys the Titans could be considering with the 10th overall pick, from John Glennon of The Tennessean.

A run through of Titans picks in multiple mock drafts, from Wyatt.

Grades for the Titans' last five drafts from Wyatt.

Tom Gower of Total Titans set some limits for himself in a seven-round Titans mock draft, using a full mock draft from Rotoworld to establish who’s unavailable to be selected.

Fans chose the team’s 15th anniversary logo.

RTC: Elway was nearly an Oiler

April, 24, 2013
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

General manager Rick Smith is ready to make the big decisions that are central to the Texans’ team-building, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

The John Elway-Dan Marino "30 for 30" special prompted McClain to retell the story of how the Houston Oilers missed out on drafting Elway only because of one blown call.

To which I say: I once did the story for The Tennessean, and it featured a big picture of Elway in an Oilers blue uniform.

Like most teams at this stage, the Texans say they are willing to trade out of their first-round pick, says Tania Ganguli of the Chronicle.

A surprise first-round pick projection from Battle Red Blog.

Indianapolis Colts

Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay wrestled a bit over their grading of Andrew Luck a year ago, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

Tight end Dwayne Allen remembers the draft bitterly, as his fall into the third round made him miserable, says Mike Chappell.

To which I say: I like that Allen settled down after a night's sleep and called back position coach Alfredo Roberts to apologize for his tone in their initial conversation.

Breaking down some first-round cornerback possibilities with Marcus Dugan of Colts Authority.

A case for the Colts trading out of the 24th pick from Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Owner Shad Khan knows the Jaguars' plan with the No. 2 pick and approves of it, says Vito Stellino.

Khan sees something magical about Nike and loves the new uniform the company designed including a two-toned helmet, says Ryan O’Halloran.

To which I say: The two-toned helmet is already creating a lot of conversation, and conversation is healthy for the Jaguars.

Some second-round possibilities for he Jaguars at 33 or with a trade down, from O’Halloran.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are looking to add a press, man-to-man cornerback in the draft, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Could the Titans draft an offensive tackle? Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean considers the idea.

To which I say: I expect bounce-back seasons from Michael Roos and David Stewart, and don't think the position should be much of a priority right now.

How guys who have visited the Titans could fit the slate of picks, from Tom Gower of Total Titans.
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

How many receivers will be drafted in the first round? Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle found an over-under of three.

More on the Texans’ overdependence on receiver Andre Johnson, from Ganguli.

The Texans' official Twitter account recently started following some prospects, Battle Red Blog points out.

To which I say: That may mean actually nothing and a team wouldn't want to tip its hand by starting to follow guys it hopes to draft. Rick Smith is not running the Twitter account.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts' draft results will be the result of thousands of miles and dozens of doughnuts, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

The Colts' best draft pick of their time in Indianapolis will play at Lucas Oil Stadium, as a visitor this season. Phillip B. Wilson with the reveal of an easy choice.

Anthony Castonzo helped make sure the Colts landed Gosder Cherilus, an old friend from Boston College, says Kevin Bowen of the team’s website.

Jacksonville Jaguars

David Caldwell won’t wait long for a call about a trade once the Jaguars are on the clock at No. 2, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

The Jaguars will be looking for the best available player who fits a need, says O’Halloran.

Don’t focus on quarterbacks in this draft, particularly in the first two rounds, advises John Oehser of

Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker wants to be the Titans’ leader, but he isn't ready to call them his team yet, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. “I don’t think it is something you ask for,” Locker said. “It is something that you earn.”

Receiver Kenny Britt impressed some teammates on the first day of the Titans' official offseason, says Wyatt.

Center Fernando Velasco signed his tender and was with the team as offseason work started, says Wyatt.

A defensive preview and an offensive preview of the Titans' draft from Tom Gower of Total Titans.