Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith did his pre-draft press conference Thursday. He answered some questions clearly, some vaguely and some, defensively, not at all.
Let's take a stab at translating his words into what they actually mean.
On if he's determined how far he would trade down with the No. 1 pick: "No, I have not determined much of anything yet. There's a bunch of options out here for us and what I can tell you is that we're going to do everything to get this team as good as we can get it and increase the talent on this football team as best we can through next weekend."
What I think he means: If we set a floor then a team willing to overpay for the first pick might shy away from trying.
On if they stay with the first selection they know who they want: "It's fascinating to me that this is such an intricate question. What I'm saying is we have valued and ranked our board. If we take the first pick, we know who we want. What I'm saying is I don't know. We are obviously open to moving out of the first pick, if in fact there is an opportunity for us to do so and if we think that is in the best interest of the organization. That's what I'm saying if that provides any clarity."
What I think he means: Hey, other teams, I know who I want and it could be who you want. Maybe I'll take who you want if you don't jump up here and get him! (By the way, his fascination at my request for clarity was fascinating to me. We need it because Smith keeps throwing "I don't knows" and plurals where there shouldn't be any into his answers, leaving things more vague than they need to be. Vagueness is en vogue around draft time, but here he did clearly say he he knows who he will take if he stays with the first overall pick. Reiterating what he said back in January, that he'd be open to trading the pick, shades this, though. By saying he knows who he would take first overall, but not revealing the name of that player, he's holding a threat over other teams.)
On what stands out in terms of the depth of the draft: "I know there has been a lot of talk about the depth of the draft. I do think there are positions in this draft that are deep. I think there are other positions that are pretty consistent with the yearly averages. There are some good players in this draft. I've said before, I like the board. I really do. I think there is value throughout the draft. In each round there are good players and there is good value throughout the entirety of the draft and that is exciting."
What I think he means: Yes, the draft is deep, but if I honestly answer this question with specifics, everyone will know my plans.
On what kind of interest he's had from around the league on trading for the No. 1 pick: "What I try to do, is we try to have a bit of a bunker mentality when we're working through the process to eliminate any type of outside influences, so it's at this point where I'm kind of coming out of the hole to look and see what other people are saying and starting to make some of those phone calls and starting to call around, just like I do every year to show my colleagues across the league know that we're interested in anything that's going to help our football team improve. I'm starting those conversations now and certainly will keep those private but that's no different than any year. We are always talking and making sure people know that we're open to any opportunity that's available for us to improve our team."
What I think he means: Hey, other teams, there's still plenty of time to make an offer.