Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 5/3/12
Usually it is Bob McNair, the owner, in the locker room after the game talking to reporters. The job suits him. He's got that whole old-guy Texas way about him, with the slow, pebbled drawl. Then it goes to Gary Kubiak, the coach, another native Houstonian. He's younger, but he's got that thing, too. And then there is Rick Smith, the general manager. He's not from around here, and seems content to exist behind the scenes while the light bounces off the foreheads of Kubiak and McNair. The result is that you don't hear much about Smith, within Houston or without. He is not a glamour GM. Like yeast in a ball of dough, you only know he's there because the whole thing keeps rising. Smith just completed what might have been the least sexy draft in all the NFL. The draft is a Live Television Entertainment Event, and the Texans portion of it was like when they welcome you back from commercial before getting back to the action. The most exciting moment came in the fifth round, when Houston grabbed Nebraska defensive end Jared Crick, which seemed like a bargain. Let's put it this way: The Texans didn't sell any extra season tickets because of their draft. But here's the point: The Texans didn't need to, because Smith has anonymously become one of the best general managers in the NFL. His first draft came in 2007, and it was a bad one. The top two picks were Amobi Okoye and Jacoby Jones. None of the seven players selected are still on the roster. The next year was better. Houston got Duane Brown and not a lot else. But over the next three years, the Texans drafted Brian Cushing, Connor Barwin, James Casey, Ben Tate, Kareem Jackson, J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed and T.J. Yates. It is good sport to rip your favorite team's general manager, especially in the days following a draft. A sports fan's default position is set to "this guy stinks." And that's not even illogical. In sports, only one team experiences ultimate success each season, and that creates an awful lot of failure. If you think your general manager will never lead you to a championship, you're probably right. This was a difficult offseason for the Texans. They lost three excellent homegrown players in Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Eric Winston, and it is difficult to argue the Texans are better now than they were when the season ended. But the Texans are better now than they were in 2006, when Smith took over as general manager. And whatever doubt there is about the Texans' performance in free agency and the draft, Smith deserves to benefit from it. He's earned that. At least for as long as the dough keeps rising.
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