Detroit Lions News: Rick Smith is a solid GM candidate but not flawless

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith is set to interview for the vacant GM role with the Detroit Lions.

Following the 2017 season, Texans GM Rick Smith took a leave to care for his wife who had been battling breast cancer.  In doing so, the organization handed the duties down to head coach Bill O’Brien who seemingly blew up the Houston Texans’ organization.  Smith is just what the Detroit Lions need, but is not exactly a flawless candidate.

The Texans hired Smith in 2006 to be their general manager; at the time, just 36 years old and the youngest to hold that position in the NFL.  It was also 2006 when the Texans made a splash choosing Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston, and Owen Daniels, to name a few, in a draft that had been widely considered the best in franchise history, but don’t be fooled, Smith had been hired a few months following the draft and had nothing to do with the fabricating of that tremendous draft board.

One thing the Detroit Lions seem to struggle with is consistently hitting a home run in the NFL Draft, especially in the early rounds when the organization has the opportunity to land a franchise-altering talent.

More from Detroit Jock City

Smith, on the one hand, has developed a wonderful resume of hitting on NFL Draft prospects especially in the early rounds but also experienced plenty of bumps in the road at the beginning of his Houston days.

With his first pick for the Texans, Smith followed that tremendous ’06 draft up by drafting Amobi Okoye tenth overall in 2007.  Okoye played 87 career games, recording 16 career sacks.  The teams’ most prosperous pick in the class had been JaCoby Jones, a third-round choice that settled in primarily as a returner but managed to record 2,733 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns during 128 career games.

Things started to perk up in 2008, when Smith landed left-tackle Duane Brown with the 26th pick, although no one else in the class worked out.  The only other notable pick in ’08 had been running back Steve Slaton, who flashed briefly before quickly fading away.

After struggling to draft impact players in the early years, Smith started to get it right, and in a big way, I may add. His most notable selections are Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and DeAndre Hopkins.

Smith also started to inject the Houston Texans roster with wonderful complementary players such as Kareem Jackson, Connor Barwin, Glover Quin, Brooks Reed, Ben Jones, Brandon Brooks, Nick Martin, Will Fuller, and Whitney Mercilus.

The Detroit Lions need a general manager like Smith, someone who has a record of landing top-tier talent and filling in the blanks with solid depth players as mentioned above.  It’s also important to note, after a slow start to his drafting career, Smith certainly found a way to adapt and right-the-ship.

A couple of notable swing and misses during Smith’s tenure though was feeling the need to hold onto head coach Bill O’Brien for far too long, after having plenty of success with Gary Kubiak winning a playoff game in 2011.  Overall, Smith amassed a record of 95-100, a sub-par mark that Detroit Lions fans are all too familiar with.

Looking back at the last few Bob Quinn drafts, it only amplifies Smith’s potential.  Sure the Lions hit on Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson, and D’Andre Swift. But seemingly missed on Teez Tabor, Jahlani Tavai, Will Harris, and the jury is still out on Jeff Okudah.

Next. Matthew Stafford’s health vital for pending decision. dark

I can get behind the Detroit Lions hiring the former Texans’ GM, but Rick Smith is not a flawless option but an intriguing one.  Smith will also garner interest from the Atlanta Falcons for the same position.