Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Texans 2012 Draft Recap

The Texans looked to address some needs and added some depth in the 2012 draft.  I'm still surprised they didn't look at a tackle.  They must feel strongly about Rashad Butler. He hasn't been a starter before, but has played alright as a backup.  The position is really thin right now.  I still like picking tackles, then letting them slide to guard if they don't pan out.

Now that the Texans are good, they've found themselves with players that fit their systems nicely.  Because they're up against the salary cap, they're now finding in-kind replacements for players.  It's the cliche that great organizations don't rebuild, they reload. 

The Texans have also started targeting players that have fallen because of injury or suspension.  They're looking for first or second round value in the middle rounds.  I'm glad to see they've come off their stance that players have to be squeeky clean, it opens up the available pool greatly.

1st Round - Whitney Mercilus - DE - Illinois
Mercilus will play rush linebacker in the Texans 3-4.  I haven't heard much bad about this player, except that he only produced one year.  With redshirts and most good players leaving as soon as they can, I don't think it'll be unusual for players to only have one good year of production.  Especially at positions like this, athleticism trumps experience.  

Quarterback pressure was a skill for the Texans last year, but they've added another rush specialist.  I think there are a couple things at play here.  One, more pressure on the QB takes it off the cornerbacks.  I don't think the CBs were any better last year, they just didn't have to defend as long.  (Another reason I think they should keep trying for more corners.)  Also, look at the quarterbacks in the division - Andrew Luck, Colts, Jake Locker, Titans, and Blaine Gabbart, Jags.  Their pre-snap reads and progression reads won't be very good, especially with a hand in their face.  Like this pick.  Replaces Mario Williams.

3rd Round - DeVier Posey - WR - Ohio State
Posey will replace Jacoby Jones on the depth chart, but I'd imagine they'd like to see him line up outside opposite Andre Johnson.  I like Kevin Walter as a slot receiver better than a wide-out so if this works, it'd be a great win for the Texans.  I wasn't so sure about trading out of the second round, but they made the extra 3rd and 4th round picks work.  

Obviously, the Texans don't think they need a second impact receiver on the team.  I'm worried about this because Johnson is getting old.  He missed a bunch of time last year, so it would have been nice to see them go for a 1a type guy.  They thought Posey would have gone higher without the memorabilia thing so this was a value pick for them.

3rd Round - Brandon Brooks - G - Miami
Brooks is a big, big boy.  Somewhere between 340 and three hundred and seventy pounds.  He isn't the prototypical zone-blocking guard.  Way too big.  Most are closer to 300 pounds.  But at 6'5", he could drop weight and still be a load.  My guess here is they try him at right tackle (not sure if he played any tackle in college or not).  Really no loss here.  If he works, they can start him at a pretty important position.  If he doesn't, he should still be able to compete at the guard spots.  Didn't care for it at first, because I thought they should try for a tackle, but this just might work.

4th Round - Ben Jones - C - Georgia
Another pick I didn't understand at first.  The Texans signed Chris Meyers to an extension in the off season. Jones sure looks like a specific fit at center.  Prototypical size for a center, started about 50 games at center in college.  I think they'l try to stretch this pick too, and work him at guard.  Perhaps they felt he didn't need any coaching up at center, which would free all his time to work at guard.  If this is indeed the case, the pick is very solid.  However, if Jones ends up as a single position backup, this pick would be very disappointing, considering the Texans had only taken one guaranteed starter before him.

4th Round - Keyshawn Martin - WR - Michigan St.
First off, great GREAT name for a wide receiver.  I'm inclined to endorse this pick on that alone.  The Texans cut Jacoby Jones and Martin has a lot of experience at punt returner.  That he has a chance to make the depth chart as a third receiver is icing.  A "starter," even in special teams is a good pick for the fourth round.  Consider too that the Texans may go for more four receiver sets after the loss of second tight end Joel Dreesen.  Martin could see the field right off the bat.

4th Round - Jared Crick - DT - Nebraska
Hate the Cornhuskers, love this pick.  Crick was a huge name a couple years ago.  Great drafting teams identify talent, and Crick had it.  Slowed by injuries, this pick has the possibility to be a HUGE steal.  He'll play DE in the 3-4, opposite JJ Watt.  And wow, he's got size like Watt, 6'6" and 285, these guys could anchor (pun intended) the line for years to come.  Love this pick in the 4th.  Great possibility to come in and push out Antonio Smith this year, saving the team some cash.

5th Round - Randy Bullock - K - Texas A&M
Well, there's got to be one.  Kubes (that's what I call him), loves him some Aggies.  And this portly fellow is as Aggie as they come.  Zero other kickers on the roster, so I guess he's got the job.  I don't remember him making big kicks or knocking them in from 50 yards.  TAMU fans don't either.  Best case situation, he's a perfectly invisible kicker.  Worst case, he makes it through the summer as the kicker and destroys the Texans season in a meltdown.  At least they didn't draft him in the 3rd???

6th Round - Nick Mondek - T - Purdue
Last year's seventh round pick, a tackle, is still on the roster, so who knows?  Numbers show a good size, wasn't graded to be drafted.  Texans haven't had any luck with their late round picks in general, and lineman specifically.  It was too late to try to take a right tackle to compete.  An incumbent backup will always beat a sixth round selection (cue plate of crow?) so I'm not expecting much.  Would have liked a project in the defensive secondary to come in and work in Wade's system.  I pretty much view Wade as a defensive miracle worker - if anyone could make an undersized, 4.4 type cornerback work, it would be him.

Closing Thoughts / How I Predicted
The safe way to draft, as I see it, is from the football out.  Quarterback, if you need one, then offensive line, defensive line, then running backs, linebackers, then skill players, then special teams contributors.  The lines contribute every play, and are cheaper in the long run, especially if the pick doesn't work out.  That said, there are a couple positions that can contribute, even if they are misses - offensive tackle and cornerback.  Tackles can play the left side or right side, and can drop down to guard.  It might be embarrassing to pick a tackle early and have them drop to guard, but at least they can contribute for years.  Same with cornerbacks, most safeties started as cornerback prospects that dropped to safety.  I assume, I'm not looking it up.

Well, so how did the Texans do?  Fine.  Much like they do every year.  Solid picks, nothing that rocks the Richter scale.  Unfortunately, no one that makes pro bowls either.  Every pick has a chance to make the depth chart, but no one would be surprised if none did.  I guess the great teams build on solid drafts, but the Texans don't have the benefit of the doubt.  One decent season does not make a great team.  They don't get the benefit of the doubt yet.

I missed on the first round.  I thought they'd take an offensive tackle, and also didn't think they'd address linebacker depth in the first round.  They didn't take a CB, which I thought would have been a good and safe pick.  Also, I think they're getting assumptive thinking they can pull a fullback out of free air.  Either TE or FB or both will be thin or weak this year.

What did I nail?  Two WR.  One as a returner, only it seems the Texans were more serious about filling this need.  Guard (tackle) - I hope they'll try Brooks at tackle, but he should compete for either guard spot if not.  The need I saw at linebacker was for depth so I don't completely understand the first pick.  I thought there'd be a chance they'd take a DE and they did.  I win, I guess.

Solid, unspectacular draft for the Texans.  Nothing here likely makes them better this year.  Again.

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