Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Look at the Houston Texans' Draft Record

Building through the draft is obviously a critical part of the Houston Texans' strategy. How successful have GM Rick Smith and Coach Kubiak been in implementing that strategy? Let's take a look.

In particular, let's see how often their draft picks resulted in a player a) making the roster, b) starting, or c) making the pro-bowl. This is the progression you hope for with every drafted NFL football player, so these seem like reasonable metrics to use to measure success. We'll start with the 2006 NFL draft at the beginning of Kubiak's tenure, even though Charlie Casserly, not Smith, was the GM for that draft. We'll end with the 2008 draft since it's still too early to evaluate the results of the 2009-2011 drafts.

Houston Texans Draft Picks: 2006 through 2008

NFL Football Houston Texans draft effectiveness 2006-2008

The table above (click to enlarge) includes all players drafted by the Texans between 2006 and 2008. In addition, it includes
players received in exchange for draft picks. Finally, college free agents are included (as though they were rounds 8 and higher of the draft -- but only if they are currently on the roster). Roster players are in black; players who are no longer with the club are in red.

The legend for the info in parentheses after a player's name is as follows: Player (x-x)
  • Before the dash indicates how the player was acquired
    • The number is the draft round
    • t = player received in trade for a draft pick, or free agent signings that required compensating draft picks.
    • fa = college free agent
  • After the dash indicates level of success
    • S= current starter
    • s= previous, but not current, starter
    • p= pro-bowl

Texans Drafts: Offense vs. Defense -- Roster Additions, Starters & Pro-Bowlers

The Texans have been more effective in acquiring offensive football players than defensive players. No surprise there. What is surprising is how much more successful the offensive picks have been. Ten of the 14 offensive "picks" are currently on the roster from those drafts but only three of 11 defensive picks. The 2007 and 2008 drafts were almost complete washouts as far as the defense goes. The only player remaining is Dominique Barber -- and he had to fight to make the team this year. On the offensive side, on the other hand, even the players no longer on the roster were solid picks for the most part -- David Anderson, for example. Charles Spencer might well have become a star if he had not been injured.

Remarkably, 12 of the 14 offensive picks started at one point in their tenure, and seven are current starters. That's a batting average of (12/14=) 86% starters, and (7/14=) 50% current starters. On the other hand, only 6 of 11 defensive picks ever started (55%), and only two of the 11 are current starters (18%).

The defense held its own in producing pro-bowlers, with Mario and DeMeco matching Schaub and Owen Daniels. However, note that both pro bowl defensive players pre-date the Rick Smith era.

Preliminary Assessment of 2009 - 2011 Picks

It's too early to get a good read on the effectiveness of the 2009-2011 drafts. For one thing, the team rarely parts company with a drafted player that soon. However, the early indication is that in recent drafts the defensive picks have been every bit as productive as the offensive ones. For example, the 15 defensive picks have already produced five starters.

To be safe, though, let's let it play out a little further. This time last year, I was still hearing nice things about Okoye, Molden and Adibi. Ultimately, all three were disappointments. To be fair, the change in the defensive scheme had something to do with their departures. The switch from Richard Smith to Frank Bush may well have had a similar impact on some other players in earlier years. However, the bottom line is that for whatever reason many of the Texans defensive draft picks have not been productive. And productivity is what we're trying to measure here.

I'll try to revisit this around this time next year.

p.s., Let me know if you find any errors. But note that my definition of "starter" is somewhat subjective. There may be players who have started a game or two that I did not consider starters.

Related Posts

Houston Texans Strategy is Paying Off
Fire Kubiak!
Houston Texans Right to let Vonta Leach Go
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