Re: Rick Smith's poor job of managing the cap has closed our window for the time bein
Who drafts consistently? I think you would be hard-pressed to find a better collection of drafted talent by any NFL team than the Texans from 2008 onward.
You are simply much more familiar with the Texan misses in the draft than other teams' misses. New England has made big "mistakes" in rounds 2 and 3 the past few years- even in round one... as have almost all the NFL teams. Nobody was questioning the talent level of the Texans in August/September. Poor execution and play certainly have the effect of making the team appear less talented, just as winning week after week has the opposite effect.
Consider the Texans' 1st round picks from 2008 onward:
2008 26th pick: Duane Brown (elite LT. Texans were heavily criticized for selecting him)
2009 15th? pick: Brian Cushing (had a reputation for "not loving football"- ironic)
2010 27th? pick: Kareem Jackson (Smith was hammered for this pick- Once David Gibbs was sent packing, KJ has proven to be an excellent draft pick)
2011 9th pick: JJ Watt (best defensive player drafted in the NFL in a long time!)
2012 28th? pick: W. Mercilus (too early to say for sure- made plays in limited time last year and has looked very good most of this year, IMO)
2013 28th pick: Deandre Hopkins (Great pick! I don't think I'm being overly optimistic to think he will be one of the better NFL WRs within two years)
Even if you don't factor in how late in the round those picks were made, that is one heck of a track record.
Looking back into the middle/late rounds:
Ben Tate (good pick, despite injury issues)
Glover Quin (very solid player. I miss him.)
Garrett Graham (looks like a solid replacement for OD next year)
Brandon Brooks (I know the line looks bad.. but this guy is pretty good and could become great)
Earl Mitchell (solid and ascending player)
D. Posey (very little proof of this so far, but I'm thinking he's gonna be good!)
J. Crick (ascending, at least a very solid rotational defensive lineman)
A. Foster as a UDFA
Keenum as an UDFA
**For many of the mid/late round picks the past couple years, it is just too early to know (but there is some reason for optimism):
Randy Bullock (rough start- but showing a great leg and has settled down)
Sharpton (injury-riddled and frustrating but hard to complain about the pick)
Trindon Holliday (pick- example of bad coaching)
Shelley Smith (good lineman- another mistake by coaches to cut- starter and/or 1st lineman off the bench for Rams.
Brice McCain (good pick- frustrating to see him put in so many situations where he's overmatched- but 6th round nickel CB who had a couple good years and is competent, at least)
Brooks Reed- useful player, not a miss but not a hit consider he was top 50
Shiloh Keo- not my guy, that's for sure, but not bad for a 5th.
James Casey- some good moments, somewhat misused at the end
Connor Barwin- inconsistent playmaker. great year in 2011, though
Brennan Williams (he could still work out- but a 3rd round rookie getting micro-fracture surgery, probably because of an existing condition, is the worst kind of draft mistake)
Brandon Harris (perhaps the pick only looks bad because the coaches don't play him, but a 2nd rounder with 3 years experience needs to be a consistent contributor)
Frank Okam (hated the pick. hated seeing him make the team for three years even more)
Anthony Hill (umm... yeah. not good)
This is the draft record of an organization with a very competent personnel department. We can argue whether they are among the best or not. However, any honest comparison between the Rick Smith drafts and the rest of the NFL will show him to be easily in the top 3rd of the league.
I also have not seen him make many mistakes acquiring free agents. I would say that all of his significant signings have worked out well, with the likely exception of the Ed Reed mess.
Wade Smith (not pretty to watch now. But, he has been very productive for the Texans during their two playoff seasons- not bad at all for the price)
Also, Rick Smith has shown himself to be very good at determining when to move on from key players- instead of overpaying them and causing real cap issues:
Demeco Ryans (given a big contract- nasty injury- then unloaded for significant compensation)
Mario Williams ($100 million contract! thank God he was cut loose. )
Eric Winston (can't find work in the NFL now- I realize our memory of his play at RT is better than what we are watching now- but, that doesn't mean his play now would be better... nor does it change the fact that he wasn't worth that contract.
Connor Barwin (I loved the guy despite his play in 2012- looks like a good decision to me, now)
James Casey (another guy I liked- given a huge contract- Phillie is getting little from him.
Kevin Walter (like him- glad he's gone though- his lack of speed was hurting the offense the past two years- since Andre's athleticism began to decline.
Dunta Robinson (how did that work out for Atlanta?)
So, I think Rick Smith's performance has been good... though not perfect, certainly. I also believe he is an ascending GM. I would trust him to operate this team for the next 10 years, regardless of what happens with Kubiak.