Monday, April 23, 2012

Texans 2012 Draft Outlook

It's draft time again!  And with that, some predictions.  After too many Gary Kubiak drafts, a few things are certain.  He will draft safely - no skill players in the first round, no trading up, no reaches for potential until 5th at the earliest.  He will draft players I haven't heard of - of course last year J.J. Watt worked out pretty well, and Duane Brown before that.  He will draft at least one TE.  He will draft small, quick WR or CB in the late rounds that won't even compete for the return spot.

IF he strayed from this at all, Houston would be a happy place.  And with the talent base they have FINALLY built, its time for the to take some risks to get a playmaker.  But I don't think they will, and my picks below reflect that.

Traded DeMeco Ryans
Free Agency Mario Williams
Released Eric Winston
Released Lawrence Vickers
Released Matt Leinart

Free Agency Mike Brisiel
Free Agency Jason Allen
Free Agency Joel Dreesen

Pick ups
Re-signed RB Arian Foster
Re-signed Chris Myers
Signed Quintin Demps
Signed Brady James
Re-Signed Tim Dobbins

The Texans had some major losses over the off-season, but I'm not concerned about the "big" one.  Mario could have been a nice player, but the cost would have been too high.  Even with the nice start to last season, he's always been more potential than production.  Brooks Reed and Conner Barwin kept the pressure up in his absence.  With Wade Phillips ability to find defensive talent, the Texans should be able to find some depth in the draft.

I'm afraid DeMeco Ryans will be quite missed.  When he missed time in 2010, the defense fell apart.  He called the plays and was captain of the team.  What's truly sad is that even though he was hurt, he was playing the most physical football of his career.  He was playing with a swagger and HITTING people.  Now he'll be replaced with Brian Cushing who has struggled with the additional burden of play calling in the past or Tim Dobbins.  Dobbins was with Phillips for a year in San Diego, maybe Wade knows something we don't.

Losing two-fifths of your offensive line is an issue.  While none of the linemen were elite, they were obviously  a great group together.  Rashard Butler was a utility lineman, able to fill in anywhere, which is very beneficial, allowing the other lineman to continue playing their given positions.

The Texans lost their FB for a second straight year.  They're getting risky with a very important offensive position to them.  They also lost Joel Dreesen, a very solid 2nd TE who played a lot with the two TE sets, and effective backup for Owen Daniels.  They've tried finding others in the draft and haven't been effective.

Here's what I think they'll look at, in order.
Offensive tackle - you wouldn't take a guard with the first pick, so I'll assume they look for a tackle early.
Wide Receiver (again) - it seems every year this position is on the list.  The Texans inexplicably kept Jacoby Jones around, let's hope they don't feel that's enough.
Cornerback (again) - every year for this one too.  Need someone (anyone) to keep Kareem Jackson from starting.
Guard - 4th round would be appropriate here, and should still be able to compete to start.
Linebacker - The Texans can use depth at both inside and outside linebacker.
Fullback - James Casey won't cut it as a full-time fullback.
Tight End - Kubiak loves drafting tight ends so I imagine we'll see one somewhere
Wide Receiver - I figure there'll be a couple WRs drafted, with one later to compete for a return job

Other possibilities -
Defensive tackle - at some point, the Texans will look for a proper 3-4 nose tackle.
Quarterback - Kubiak likes to draft a QB every year or two, but I'm not feeling it this year with the way T.J. Yates played last year
Defensive End - I've never thought Antonio Smith was a long-term play.  They could look for another another young DE/OLB
Safety - I can't remember when the Texans have drafted a safety, so I doubt it will happen this year.  It seems the smart play would be to draft cornerbacks and linebackers and drop them to safety if it doesn't work out.

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