Outsmarting Yourself


I was an English major in Postmodernism’s heyday, and ever since, I’ve been fascinated by the enstupidating power of groupthink.  Here you had all these highly educated people proclaiming for a fact that there’s no such thing as a fact, slapping themselves on the back for their brilliance the whole time.  Since they had both tenure and the grade book, who was going to tell them they were wrong?

Football suffers from a similar problem.  The fastest way to get regarded as a brilliant personnel guy, it seems, is to start telling everyone you’re a brilliant personnel guy.  Pro football is an even smaller fraternity than the ivory tower — who’s going to risk his job telling the Emperor he’s naked?

Which brings us to Rick Smith.  (Apologies for the mental image of Rick Smith naked.  Unless you’re into that; we don’t judge).  Rick Smith has been the Texans’ GM since 2006; his first draft was 2007.  Here’s a list of our draft picks by year.  Notice anything?

I’ve watched just about every minute of regular season football the Texans have played since they came into the league, and I’ve never even heard of most of these guys.*  (For a fun contrast, here’s the Packers’ all time draft list.  Bold type indicates current players, so you can read it through your tears).

It’s actually worse than that.  Just as laymen still think college professors are wicked smart because they know lots of fifty-cent words, so football’s professional hangers-on think that, because he drafts for “need” in the first few rounds, Rick Smith is an ace personnel guy.  Here’s a sampling of reactions to his 2013 draft, which amateur NFL scholars like us know as one of the worst flubs of all time:

Bleacher Report:

Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith had two mandates headed into the 2013 draft—land another wide receiver and build defensive depth, both of which he accomplished.

The first came in Round 1, when the Texans took receiver DeAndre Hopkins. They rounded out their defense later on, with safety D.J. Swearinger in Round 2, defensive end Sam Montgomery in Round 3 and outside linebacker Trevardo Williams in Round 4.

Needs Met: Wide receiver, strong safety, front-seven depth.

Value and Depth: Outside linebacker Trevardo Williams.

Boom/Bust Potential: Very low, overall; DeAndre Hopkins is the biggest wild card.

Grade: B+

Yeah, Hopkins was the wild card.  Trevardo Williams got cut in training camp.

Sports Illustrated:


WR DeAndre Hopkins is just what the doctor ordered for this offense. Same goes for S D.J. Swearinger on the other side of the ball. Beyond that, we’ll see. Offensive linemen Brennan Williams and David Quessenberry and defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Trevardo Williams have potential, but they’ll have to work to crack the lineup. Grade: B

Nailed it on Montgomery and Trevardo Williams, but the only doctor who ordered D.J. Swearinger studied with Sigmund Freud.  Brennan Williams is now a pro wrestler.

Fox Sports:

Houston Texans

Floyd Engel: (A) Getting a safety was a need. Getting D.J. Swearinger in the second round was a coup. Marvez: (B) Andre Johnson is rejoicing. The Texans added a complementary wide receiver in Round One with Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins. South Carolina safety Swearinger will get valuable tutelage playing the position from Texans newcomer Ed Reed. Schrager: (B) I was surprised they chose Hopkins over Cordarrelle Patterson and Robert Woods, but I’m not Rick Smith. He has a pretty good track record. Sam Montgomery had question marks and slipped to the third round. Good value there.

Frankly, I’m surprised Rick Smith chose Hopkins over Patterson and Woods, too, since Hopkins is actually a good player.  Sam Montgomery is much more like Rick Smith’s definition of “good value” — a guy whose own coaches called out his crappy work ethic and urged NFL teams not to draft him.

Sporting News:

They started with a bang to complement two future Hall of Famers, a wide receiver opposite Andre Johnson (Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins) and a hard-hitting strong safety to support Ed Reed (South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger). They also got an option to solidify right tackle (North Carolina’s Brennan Williams) opposite Pro Bowler Duane Brown. With Connor Barwin gone, they had to restock their pass-rush quiver behind J.J. Watt, and Wade Phillips’ coaching should boost what LSU’s Sam Montgomery and Connecticut’s Trevardo Williams can do as 3-4 outside linebackers.

That’s an A- grade, by the way, and since it’s the Texans we’re talking about, it’s important to note that the “Pro Bowler” opposite Brennan Williams was selected to the NFL’s all-star game; he’s not actually a professional bowler.


HOUSTON TEXANS: GM Rick Smith and Kubiak needed to add a few pieces to a roster that was on the verge of title contention. DeAndre Hopkins is the complementary receiver the Texans have desired for years. The electrifying playmaker is more explosive than his timed speed (4.57) indicates, which makes him a dangerous option against single coverage opposite Andre Johnson. Brennan Williams and David Quessenberry are intriguing O-line additions with the capacity to fortify the Texans’ front in the future. Montgomery and Trevardo Williams are edge players with diverse defensive skills and relentless energy. D.J. Swearinger is a headhunter between the hashes with underrated awareness and ball skills. GRADE: B

The relentless energy to find the kindest bud in H-town, maybe.

See what I mean?




*Except for the immortal Stylez G. White, a 7th rounder in the Texans’ first draft.  Thanks to the miracle of Wikipedia, I now know the following: “On December 15, 2008, it was revealed that the Hillsborough County Circuit Court had approved White’s request to legally change his name from Gregory Alphonso White, Jr. to Stylez G. White.  According to White, the inspiration for the change came from a character in the 1985 Michael J. Fox film Teen Wolf.”  Thanks to the miracle of Twitter, I now have this image:


This man is officially my favorite Houston Texans draft pick of all time.  How did Rick Smith not re-draft him at some point, if only to give Jaelen Strong someone to hang out with?

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