Rick Smith talks risk with quarterbacks

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
9:31
AM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- You can tell a lot about an executive's philosophy based on how he views risk in drafting.

Some see the bigger risk in taking the wrong player while others see a bigger risk in missing the right one. I wanted to know Texans' general manager Rick Smith's perspective on the matter this week, with his first No. 1 overall pick pending.

To Smith, the two go hand-in-hand.

"I think the risk is if you take a player that is not reflective of the value," Smith said. "Because what you ultimately do is you miss on another player you should have been taking that has that value. That’s why we don’t rank our board with any type of consideration for need because when you do that, you make mistakes. Not only would you maybe take a player at any position that’s not worthy of the spot or may not be able to perform the way you would expect he would, you also lose out on the other player that would have. That ultimately is not something that’s good for your team."

It's generally a good idea to ignore need when ranking your board. Having too many good players at marquee positions is never a problem, and any team that thinks it can be is going to put itself in a poor position.

The opinions on a marquee position can differ, too, and in Smith's view there isn't a more important one than the quarterback.

"Quarterback is obviously the most important position in our game because it’s difficult to win without one," Smith said. "… If you polled 32 general managers, you’d probably get a bunch of them to say the quarterback and others who said the guy getting after the quarterback."

That answer came after I posed this hypothetical to him: If there were two players who you knew for sure would be five-time Pro Bowlers, one a quarterback and one a defensive end, which would you take? Smith said he'd want both, but ultimately went with the quarterback.

If the Texans truly stick to their need-free philosophy, that mentality won't matter. They won't pass on the player they view as the best in this draft, even if he doesn't fit what the Texans need most.

Tania Ganguli

ESPN Houston Texans reporter

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