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Old 03-18-2011   #1
dalemurphy
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Default Looking Back at Previous Smithiak Drafts

With the 2011 draft approaching, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look back at the previous Smithiak drafts to attempt to ascertain what went wrong and what went right. According to McNair, Smith, and Kubiak, they were going to do a lot of self-evaluation this off-season and re-examine the way they have been operating. I would assume reviewing their previous draft day decisions would be a crucial component of the eval.

Let’s look first at 2007:

It would be ill-advised to simply stare at the draft picks and draw conclusions. We need to time travel back to the state of the team after the 2006 season and leading up to the draft. Gary Kubiak took over one of the worst football teams I have ever seen one year earlier. The 2006 draft, which he orchestrated with Charlie Casserly, turned out to be the foundation of the current team.

Kubiak believed he could turn David Carr into a quality NFL QB. In Kubiak’s system, Carr completed a high percentage of his passes but consistently frustrated Kubiak with his inability/willingness to look downfield. Eventually, Sage Rosenfels would replace Carr.

Heading into the season, the organization was relying on Dominick Davis/Williams to carry the running game again. By early preseason, we learned that DD had a degenerative knee condition and would choose to retire rather than attempt surgery and rehab. Enter Ron Dayne. Dayne was reasonably effective for the squad but most remember him for destroying the career of rookie LT Charles Spencer, who reminded many of a young Erik Williams. The organization searched desperately for five seasons for a franchise LT and two games into his rookie season, the Dayne train shattered his leg.

The first month of football was ugly but the team steadily improved, winning six games (including a late season victory against the Indianapolis Colts). Rookies Mario Williams, Demeco Ryans, Eric Winston, and Owen Daniels all performed well as each became starters and heavy contributors by the season’s end. The Texans also had acquired Kevin Walter in a trade with Cincinnati and the staff was excited about his future along side Andre Johnson. Ephraim Salaam filled in admirably at LT after the Spencer injury and guards Chester Pitts and Fred Weary became a strength of the team.

The Texans entered the off-season with a lot of work to do:

Acquire a QB- the David Carr experiment was over… they liked Sage Rosenfels but were not confident in him as a quality NFL starter.

Infuse talent on defense- All three levels of the defense lacked talent. At DL, the Texans were playing guys like Anthony Weaver, N.D. Kalu, Cedric Killings and Seth Payne. At LB, as excited as they were about Demeco Ryans, he was flanked by Morlon Greenwood and Shantee Orr. In the secondary, Dexter McCleon, Lewis Sander, Demarcus Faggins, Glenn Earl, and CC Brown were occupying space next to Dunta Robinson.

Offensively, the Texans needed youth at C and LT, and certainly needed help at RB, though rookie Chris Taylor had flashed some ability late in the season.

CONTINUE Article Here
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Old 03-19-2011   #2
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Default Re: Looking Back at Previous Smithiak Drafts

Good stuff Dale, a common theme you uncovered in Rick Smith first tenure as GM is nepotism. Was this a projection based off fear of failure or familiarity of known players/coaches? This trend has continued through the 2010 Smithiak draft, as I'm sure you will expose.

I also like your point evaluating talent not just prior to a draft but following players on your board you didn't select and reasons why & where those reasons justified or a mistake, to learn from. This evaluation should continue forward into their NFL careers on that side of the scouting department, taking what they knew from College careers & evaluating them again as NFL players. looking to find any metrics to help become truer projecting tools for future success along with free agency.

It's painful but necessary to include the mentality of a team going into the draft. All the factors post Carr along with 2006 class surely had immediate impact on their thought process. Seems they finally got some things right & turned around but at the same time missed opportunities to really nail a great draft. I don't know what their process is in Rick Smiths war room but can't help think the scouts take a back seat to the coaches. Rick Smith the GM seems more like just a moderator who orchestrate's the wishes of HC, Gary Kubiak who represents his trusted inner circle of coaches. This makes it almost impossible to pinpoint blame on the GM or scouting departments & why we continue to see coaching carrousel.

Let us pray for Wade, that he holds the answers we've been seeking. That he gets it right, helps give proper direction from a defensive standpoint (something Gary & Rick seem to know very little about) nails 11 spot, while addressing needs in a orderly best player available approach true to their board with the next 6 picks, otherwise it's
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Old 03-19-2011   #3
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Default Re: Looking Back at Previous Smithiak Drafts

Quote:
Originally Posted by beerlover View Post
Good stuff Dale, a common theme you uncovered in Rick Smith first tenure as GM is nepotism. Was this a projection based off fear of failure or familiarity of known players/coaches? This trend has continued through the 2010 Smithiak draft, as I'm sure you will expose.

I also like your point evaluating talent not just prior to a draft but following players on your board you didn't select and reasons why & where those reasons justified or a mistake, to learn from. This evaluation should continue forward into their NFL careers on that side of the scouting department, taking what they knew from College careers & evaluating them again as NFL players. looking to find any metrics to help become truer projecting tools for future success along with free agency.

It's painful but necessary to include the mentality of a team going into the draft. All the factors post Carr along with 2006 class surely had immediate impact on their thought process. Seems they finally got some things right & turned around but at the same time missed opportunities to really nail a great draft. I don't know what their process is in Rick Smiths war room but can't help think the scouts take a back seat to the coaches. Rick Smith the GM seems more like just a moderator who orchestrate's the wishes of HC, Gary Kubiak who represents his trusted inner circle of coaches. This makes it almost impossible to pinpoint blame on the GM or scouting departments & why we continue to see coaching carrousel.

Let us pray for Wade, that he holds the answers we've been seeking. That he gets it right, helps give proper direction from a defensive standpoint (something Gary & Rick seem to know very little about) nails 11 spot, while addressing needs in a orderly best player available approach true to their board with the next 6 picks, otherwise it's

Amen.
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Old 03-20-2011   #4
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Default Re: Looking Back at Previous Smithiak Drafts

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalemurphy View Post
Eventually, Sage Rosenfels would replace Carr.
Rosenfels finished a couple of games in 2006, but never started ahead of Carr.

Can you provide at least a synopsis of the Smithiak drafts? Your post doesn't mention the drafts at all.
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Old 03-20-2011   #5
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Default Re: Looking Back at Previous Smithiak Drafts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky View Post
Rosenfels finished a couple of games in 2006, but never started ahead of Carr.
Yeah, I kinda had a double-take at that part, too.

I think he meant to say that the expectation was that eventually Rosenfels would replace Carr.

But then he forgets to mention that Rosenfels injured himself on a bonehead play making a tackle and lost his chance to become the starting QB when Kubiak finally got fed up with Carr at about the Raider game (iirc).
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Old 03-20-2011   #6
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Default Re: Looking Back at Previous Smithiak Drafts

keep hope alive, 2008 edition thanks to dalemurphy of Texans Bull Blog -http://www.texansbullblog.com/

Quote:
Other than Duane Brown, this draft has turned into a disaster. Considering how things looked during the 2008 season, that is quite shocking. Brown was playing well for a rookie LT. Steve Slaton looked amazing and should have been the ROTY. Molden looked like a heck of a player, while Adibi was flashing his potential. Three years later, I will be outraged if any of the remnants even stick on the 53 man roster, other than Brown. Molden, Barber, Adibi, and Slaton were all on the final roster in 2010 but none of them contributed positively to the season.

I think you can chalk up the future failures of Steve Slaton and Antwaun Molden simply to the injury bug. Given that they hit on their 1st round selection, Duane Brown, and did not have a 2nd due to the Matt Schaub trade, one would struggle to conclude that there the organization has a flaw in its drafting methodology. What is puzzling, however, is the decline of its rookies. Hopefully Kubiak and Smith are looking at guys from the 2007 draft like Amobi Okoye and Fred Bennett, as well as Molden and Slaton from the 2008 draft, attempting to assess what has gone wrong. Was it poor coaching? Bad off-season program? Perhaps the training/conditioning program is poor? These trends need to be addressed, because young players’ performances rise over time, not decline, on the top NFL teams.
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Old 03-21-2011   #7
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Default Re: Looking Back at Previous Smithiak Drafts

This is writeup #3: 2009... By the way, this was a great draft, IMO!-

Hurricane Ike, a difficult schedule, a late hit from Jared Allen, and other acts of God is how I described the horrific events of the 2008 football season. Oh, and the flu. We mustn’t forget the flu. The flu benched Matt Schaub in week four. You remember week four in Houston against the Colts? The game when we were leading by 17 points with about five minutes to go. The same game when we were up 10 points when Steve Slaton broke a 30 yard run to the Indy 40 yard line with about 3:30 minutes left in the game. Remember what happened next? I dare not speak of it.


The season was not without its highlights, though. After the 0-4 start, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub orchestrated a miraculous last second win versus Miami. A midseason cheap shot by Jared Allen cost Schaub and the Texans three games, but, when he returned, he returned as the team’s true leader. Returning to play against Green Bay, Schaub had an excellent game and showed poise and playmaking ability the remainder of the season that gave fans hope for the season he was about to have in 2009. Steve Slaton was excellent. The Texans drafted him as a scat back but he quickly won the starting job on his way to a 1200 yard season. Mario had his second consecutive double-digit sack season and Dunta Robinson was able to return from his leg injury during mid-season. Unfortunately, other players tailed off defensively, particularly Amobi Okoye and Fred Bennett. The offense continued to grow and improve while the defense continued to flounder. The off-season would begin with a change at defensive coordinator and the promise of another draft focusing on the defensive side of the ball.

Here is what the Texans needed to do:

Upgrade the athleticism in the front seven. Other than Mario, they did not have anyone with above average athletic ability contributing to the defense. Ryans and Diles both had good seasons at LB but neither have special athletic/playmaking ability.
Solve the problems in the secondary. Will Demps plugged the hole at safety in 2007 but was a disaster in 2008. Fred Bennett regressed, Jacques Reeves was solid but unremarkable, and Dunta Robinson still had not regained form.
Upgrade the interior O-line. Chester Pitts suffered a serious knee injury and Briesel struggled with injuries. Meanwhile, the primary backup is Kasey Studdard.

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