The field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will soon go dark again as the players, coaches, scouts and media members have put a bow on the 2013 scouting combine.
The players have been measured, grilled and served up to the media and will return to their colleges to await their fate in late April.
The combine has very limited value to fans as most of what matters happens behind the scenes and away from the prying eyes of reporters desperate to have anything to talk about. The personal interviews and medical reviews are critical in the selection process, but little else of what goes on will sway top GMs.
Here are the big highlights from the combine as it relates to the Houston Texans. As they pick late in the first round, it's difficult to take too much away from the weekend.
Gary Kubiak Spoke to the Press
Thanks to the magic of NFLdraftscout.com we have full transcripts of all the interviews from the 2013 combine. Kubiak, like most coaches, took time to talk to the media. Like most coaches, he offered little to no substantive value in his chat.
He was asked about the possibility of the NFL legislating out the kind of low blocks that are prevalent in the blocking scheme the Texans use. He acknowledged the possibility, but added,
There's some things going on, some peel back situations when players are coming back towards their own goal line and cutting people. I think we need to find a way to get that cleaned up.
I think the league took some steps towards doing that outside the box, now they're working on doing that inside the box. I understand. Anything they can do to make their game safer and protect players, I understand that.
In terms of actual draft talk, he offered little insight as to what the Texans will do. He mentioned the players currently on the roster at wide receiver, but admitted the team needs to find someone to replace Andre Johnson.
For the most part, his presser was a deft example of kneeling on the ball to kill the clock. A few short, pat answers and he was done.
Rick Smith Spoke to the Press
Smith's presser was also an exercise in stating the obvious. From him we learned the following:
- The Texans will draft an impact player in the first round.
- The Texans are a growing team with areas to improve.
- They need to find the best players possible.
- It's important to have flexibility.
Earth-shattering insight it wasn't.
Smith's best quote confirmed that the behind-the-scenes meetings in the combine are what really matter, though he gave little insight into how they went for the Texans. He did say that on-field drills have some value, though not for the reason you might suspect.
I’ve heard a lot of talk this week about how important medical is, and that’s A-Number-1 and how the interviews are important and I agree with that.
But I do think that the other piece, the on field workout, is significantly important as well. Do you draft a player on height, weight and speed? No. But it’s a critical piece to the evaluation process, particularly when you have guys that are the best of the best.
We’ve got 333 of the best here this weekend and you want to see them in competitive environments, you want to see them compete. So that’s a big part of it
Houston Interviews Manti Te'o
Houston met with many players, and many teams met with Te'o. The Texans drew some attention because they were the first to meet with the Notre Dame star. He could well be available late in the first round.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle noted that Kubiak was impressed with Te'o in the interview.
While Te'o would be an odd fit in the Texans' defense, if Connor Barwin departs in free agency or there's a setback in Brian Cushing's rehab, he could be made to fit what the Texans need.
Most likely, however, the Texans' interview position was random and means nothing.
Tavon Austin Flies
Among the wideout targets popularly mentioned for the late first round is Austin out of West Virginia.
According to NFL Draft Scout, he posted a blazing 4.34 40 time, but didn't grow three inches in the process. Austin had the fastest time of the major receivers, stands at just 5' 8" and doesn't fit the Texans' mold for big wideouts.
They passed on players like T.Y. Hilton for size reasons last year.
While Austin won't likely be the player the Texans target, if he leapfrogs another wideout on the board, it could give the Texans the chance to land one of the bigger receivers when their pick arrives.