When scouting quarterbacks, evaluators dig on them differently along the way. Texans GM Rick Smith got his first strong clue that Deshaun Watson might be a match for Houston from the Raymond James Stadium stands on Jan. 9.
Smith knew if he was going to draft a signal-caller three months later, whoever it was would be joining a playoff roster full of strong veterans. How Dermontti Dawson Womens Jersey would a new QB handle it? With two minutes left in the national title game, and Alabama’s vaunted defense and 69 yards of Bermuda grass in front of him, Watson answered.
“It’s in the heat of the moment, the enormity of the moment, they have to go down and score,” Smith explained from his office Wednesday afternoon. “And just his presence, his confidence, his poise, the way that he handled himself in that situation, in that moment, it was very impressive. … That’s why I go to those games — you can see how they respond to adversity, how they react to their teammates, how they react to their coaches, different situations during the game.
“I saw just tremendous poise and I saw confidence in him. And obviously he went and performed in one of the all-time great games you’ll ever see. He functioned in a very competitive and highly charged environment with a lot of poise and execution.”
You know what happened next. So having seen it with his own eyes, and not just what we saw on TV, Smith acted with Watson-like self-assuredness in dealing up last Thursday to go get the 21-year-old Tiger.
I figured Smith had to swallow hard before sending next year’s first-round pick to Cleveland to move up 13 spots and grab Watson at No. 12. I figured wrong.
“I didn’t experience it like that,” Smith saidGreg Lloyd Womens Jersey with a laugh. “My feeling about the way it was happening, it all worked the way it was supposed to work.”
In this week’s Game Plan, we’re going quarterback heavy — explaining what the Bears saw in Mitchell Trubisky, why the Chiefs fell for Patrick Mahomes, and how the 2018 quarterback class may well have influenced what teams did this year at the position. Plus, we’ll look at the drafts of the Patriots and Jets, and so much more.
But we start with Smith — now in his 12th season as Texans GM — making the massive move that he hasn’t in the past. In his previous 10 drafts (he took over just after the 2006 event), he moved up in the first round once, and that was last year when he went from 22nd to 21st overall to get wide receiver Will Fuller. The highest pick he’d spent on a quarterback was the fourth-rounder he used on incumbent Tom Savage in 2014.
So this is, without question, a departure from form for the Texans GM.
“What you’re getting at, and you’re right in the assumption — I value picks,” Smith said. “I do, and so to have to give up draft picks inhttp://www.coltsshop...sey-c-1_18.html order to go and acquire a player, you just have to have conviction that the player is worth whatever value is assessed. And in this instance, that was the case.”
What I wanted to get to with Smith was how he came to that conviction, and it turns out there were three important checkpoints along the way, from his perspective — the title game, the combine and Watson’s visit to Houston. The tape is the tape. Everyone sees that. Trusting that a franchise-shifting investment is worth it (a year after striking out on another big one made in Brock Osweiler) is different.
So here’s how Smith came to feel comfortable:
THE TITLE GAME
Watson’s command of a pressure-packed situation was only part of the equation coming out of Tampa. Smith had the good fortune of sitting with a Clemson contingent and met Jessica Jefferson, who worked in the football office. They just talked, but Smith took mental notes.
“She happened to be sitting beside me for a quarter and a half, and she just raved about the type of person he was and the leader that he was,” Smith said. “And she knew (Texans receiver/Clemson alum) DeAndre Hopkins, sohttp://www.officialc...sey-c-1_16.html we talked about different guys in the program. But she was really complimentary of Deshaun and how he operated around the program, and not just as a football player.”
So Smith’s picture of the person, rather than the player, was becoming clear.