Rick Smith: Texans Got Better With 2017 NFL Draft Class

By Matt Hammond, SportsRadio 610

The Houston Texans 2017 NFL Draft class is in the books.

Deshaun Watson, former Clemson quarterback.

Zach Cunningham, former Vanderbilt linebacker.

D’Onta Foreman, former Texas running back.

Julién Davenport, former Bucknell offensive tackle.

Carlos Watkins, former Clemson defensive tackle.

Treston Decoud, former Oregon State cornerback.

Kyle Fuller, former Baylor center.

General manager Rick Smith said he likes their haul.

“I think it was a very productive weekend,” Smith said on Saturday at NRG Stadium. “I think our football team’s better.”

Smith has maintained all weekend, they didn’t draft based on need, stayed true to their board and took the best player available.

What is “best”?

Smith shared some of their calculus on Saturday.

“If there is a theme about this group, there’s leadership and production throughout the class,” he said. “Along with some accomplishment throughout the class.”

Some thoughts from Smith and O’Brien on each pick:

Davenport:

“Two-time captain. He’s got some things to develop, obviously, from the level of competition (he faced in FCS). But we see enough athletic ability, leadership and character that we feel pretty confident that he’ll be able to compete and learn and grow and figure out how to be a pro football player.” Smith

“Nothing against Bucknell but coming from Bucknell, little bit lower competition relative to the other, bigger schools — to go to the Senior Bowl is a good thing, and I thought he competed very well there. Wasn’t perfect, but he competed. He held his own. … Smart. Look, he’s got a ways to go, just like most of these guys do, but he’s got really good length, arm length, height, athleticism. We think he could potentially play both sides, right and left. We were impressed with him, and so every phase of our evaluation with him was good.” — O’Brien

Watkins:

“Excited about that young man, to reunite him with some teammates from Clemson, obviously. We think that’s a good program and so we have some productive players from that program. When you look at his history, from a production standpoint, you talk about a guy who makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. He has double digits in hurries and sacks and tackles for losses, he plays big in big games and we like that about him.” — Smith

“Clemson obviously has done a great job. … Over the last two or three years, even beyond that, they have been very athletic up front (defensively). This guy is a guy that we feel can come in here with a lot of hard work and good coaching here can fill a couple of different roles for us. He can play on the inside in a couple of different of packages for us. Like Rick said, he makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage, bunch of TFLs, some sacks. He’s an instinctive player and we think he gives us, for lack of a better term, some juice on the inside in a competitive way. We were really happy to be able to get that guy when we were at that pick.” — O’Brien

Decoud:

“Guy that has some versatility. He is a longer corner with some press ability, might even be able to play safety. He is an aggressive tackler, so we like that skill set with him.” — Smith

While Smith and O’Brien were in the press box, the rest of the personnel department was busy in the bowels of NRG Stadium, cobbling together undrafted free agent signings. Among them:

— Eli Ankou, former UCLA defensive tackle

— Zach Conque, former Stephen F. Austin tight end

— Matt Godin, former Michigan linebacker

— Deante’ Gray, former TCU wide receiver

— Justin Hardee, former Illinois wide receiver

— Dare Ogunbowale, former Wisconsin running back

— Dayon Pratt, former East Carolina linebacker

— Malik Smith, former San Diego State cornerback

Matt hosts Saturdays from 1-4 pm on SportsRadio 610. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter @MattHammondShow.

More from Matt Hammond
Comments

One Comment

  1. Ummm just a bit of a nitpick.. you did not need to put “former” could have just been in the format:

    Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson

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