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The Ten Years of Rick Smith: Year One and Year Two

HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Over the next few weeks the tenure of the current general manager of the Texans will be covered extensively in this space. This site will go through many of the relevant moves of the past nine-plus years and give them a grade.

Explanation of grading:

Great – Transformative move that had a positive multi-year effect on the team

Good – Positive move that had at least one year of impact for the team

Meh – Moves that were neither hugely positive or negative. Late round draft picks with no other real options.

Bad – Negative moves that had half season or full season negative impact. Picks/signings when reasonably believable upgrades were available

Terrible – Multi-year negative effects. Picks/signings when significant talent could have been found instead.

These moves are not looked at as much in the moment, as how we now see them in history. No use in trying to remember how we felt at the moment, that was covered extensively at the time.

The Rick Smith journey begins June 5, 2006 when Smith was officially introduced as the new general manager of the Houston Texans.

This post covers Smith’s first (2006) and second year (2007) on the job.

With most, if not all, of the 2006 work done before Smith took over, no significant moves are credited to Smith’s ledger in his initial six-plus months of work.

2006

9/5 – Signed Ron Dayne

Dayne was fresh off losing his starting job with the Dallas Cowboys and would be the team’s primary running back carrying the ball 151 times for 612 yards and five touchdowns. His most significant play was perhaps when he collided with left tackle Charles Spencer causing a fractured tibial plateau and cartilage damage. Spencer was thought to be a potential franchise left tackle and never played a game again.

Grade – Meh

Destroying what was potentially the franchise bookend opposite Eric Winston kept this from being a good move. That being said, getting what they did out of Dayne after the Cowboys cast him off was an early win for Smith.

2007

3/5 Re-signed OT Ephraim Salaam

Both players ended up as starters and reserves at different times. Salaam ended up starting all 16 games in the 2007 season and playing backup the following season.

Grade – Good

Not outstanding by any means, but Salaam was needed extensively in 2007 due to Charles Spencer’s season-long injury.

3/5 Signed free agent running back Ahman Green to a 4-year $23 million deal

Green was atrocious. He was 30 years old and never blossomed into anything resembling his usefulness in Green Bay. In two season with the Texans, he played in 14 games rushing for 554 yards and five touchdowns.

Perhaps Green’s signing was intended to be a time-share/mentor role with Adrian Peterson who was thought to potentially slide to the Texans at their draft spot of 8th overall that year. His presence likely had the team passing on Marshawn Lynch at their eventual drafting spot of 10th overall, though.

Grade – Terrible

A bad signing for a desperate team that had seen their potential future at the position, Dominik Williams, fall apart.

3/22 Traded for quarterback Matt Schaub

The deal cost the Texans two second round picks (2007 and 2008) as well as the 8th overall pick. In return they received the highly thought of backup in Atlanta, Schaub, and the 10th overall pick.

Grade – Good

Despite the piss-poor ending to his Texans career, Schaub blossomed into a near-elite quarterback playing a significant role in the team’s first two playoff trips.

3/26 Matched Vonta Leach’s restricted free agent offer from the Giants signing him to a 4-year $8 million deal.

A reasonable deal for a serviceable fullback who Smith had signed during the 2006 season.

Grade – Great

Leach was a fantastic fullback. He would make the Pro Bowl in 2011 after helping spring Arian Foster’s amazing 2010.

2007 NFL Draft

Round 1 – DT Amobi Okoye, Louisville

The 10th overall pick.

Grade – Terrible

Okoye was 19 years old when he was drafted. An amazing September his rookie year where he recorded four sacks was the highlight of his career. The rest of it was unspectacular to say the least. He played four years with the Texans.

His selection is magnified by the fact three potential hall of fame players went after him. Patrick Willis (11), Marshawn Lynch (12), Darelle Revis (14), and Lawrence Timmons (15) were all selected within a reasonable amount of picks after Okoye.

Round 3 – WR Jacoby Jones, Lane

The 73rd overall pick

Grade – Terrible

Jones was a bad wide receiver and a mediocre return man for the Texans. He muffed a punt in the 2011 AFC Divisional game which allowed the Ravens to gain an early lead over the Texans before defeating them. James Jones was selected five picks after Jones.

Round 4 – CB Fred Bennett, South Carolina

The 123rd overall pick after trading down from 107 with the Saints.

Grade – Terrible

He played three seasons with the Texans totaling five interceptions and 21 passes deflected. Jermon Bushrod (125) and Dashon Golson (126) were selections after him that would have helped the Texans more.

Round 5 – DB Brandon Harrison, Stanford

The 144th overall pick.

Grade – Meh

He played in 15 games in 2008 recording 33 tackles. No other players of significance were drafted around him.

Round 5 – OT Brandon Frye, Virginia Tech

The 163rd overall pick and the additional selection the Texans picked up in the Saints trade.

Grade – Terrible

He never played in a game for the Texans. Corey Graham (168) and William Gay (170) are players of relevance selected after Frye.

Round 6 – G Kasey Studdard, Texas

The 183 overall selection in the draft.

Grade – Good

Ended up being a decent backup and took over for an injured Chester Pitts in 2011.

Round 7 – LB Zac Diles, Kansas State

The 218th overall selection in the draft.

Grade – Good

Ended up starting a fair number of games for the team after a couple of seasons as a backup. Wasn’t spectacular but production like that out of a seventh round pick deserves credit.

9/1 Traded DE Jason Babin to Seattle for S Michael Boulware

Grade – Meh

Babin would blossom into a one-time Pro Bowl player much later in his career and Boulware played in 16 games recording 11 tackles. Two guys that were about to get released swapped for each other is neither good nor bad.

9/11 Signed S Will Demps

Grade – Good

Demps ended up playing in 15 games and starting the final eight in 2007. He would be named a Pro Bowl alternate and play in a handful of games the following season.

Running Tally:

Great – 1

Good – 5

Meh – 3

Bad – 0

Terrible – 5

Follow Stoots on Twitter – @Cody_Stoots

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