Oh yes, we have a long way to go until the NFL Draft. So much may or may not happen before then, considering the NFL labor situation.
But hey, this is what we do. It’s almost time for the Super Bowl, which means we are already deep into draft speculation in Houston *sniffle*.
Obviously, the NFL Combine and other factors can (and will) change things, but here are my very early thoughts on the positions the Texans may consider in the first round (in no particular order).
I don’t see the Texans going CB in the first round for two straight years. The last thing this team needs is another rookie CB to be in the running to start, and a first-rounder would be just that. In my mind it’s a virtual certainty that the Texans will look to upgrade one of their starting corner positions in free agency whenever free agency actually occurs. That said, if one of the top-tier CBs (Patrick Peterson of LSU or Prince Amukamara of Nebraska) were to miraculously fall to #11, it would be a no-brainer… but “miraculous” isn’t hyperbolic enough to describe that scenario.
We continue to go ’round and ’round about the type of NT Wade Phillips is going to want to anchor his 3-4 defense next year. In the past, he’s used the big, fat wide-bodied guys, and he’s used the smaller, quicker, gap-shooting guys. I tend to not believe that Phillips is as enamored with guys currently on the roster (Shaun Cody, Earl Mitchell, Amobi Okoye) as he says he is. If Wade thinks they can play the nose, fine – but hopefully it will be as depth… though we don’t yet know Earl Mitchell’s ceiling. With Wade’s instruction and Earl’s motor, who knows?
With where the Texans are picking, there aren’t going to be any guys available worth that draft slot (I don’t see the Combine changing that). Auburn’s Nick Fairley will be long gone (possibly first overall), and Alabama’s Marcell Dareus will probably be gone as well. Oregon State’s Stephen Paea and Corey Liuget of Illinois should be available, but at this point those both seem like reaches at #11. As Big Ron said so succinctly on Twitter, if you’re going to take a NT in the first round, he needs to be a game-changer. I agree, and as of now, I don’t see a game-changer available at NT at the 11 slot. I will be curious to track Paea’s stock, though.
As discussed previously, there seems to be a difference of opinion as to where Brian Cushing will play in the 3-4. I think he’s a better fit for the inside, whereas many others think he belongs on the outside. A lot of early draft speculation is swirling around Texas A&M speed-rusher Von Miller to go to Houston as an OLB, but I’m not really on that bus at this point. You can never have enough pass rushers, though. I’m just not convinced that Miller is going to excel at the next level, and I see him as a guy who relies solely on speed. There’s not a lot of technique there, and I don’t see him as the type who’s going to be good at shedding blocks, though he wouldn’t need to do that as much on the outside. Being a pure speed rusher can get you far in college. Not so much in the NFL. For every big-time successful NFL speed-rusher, there are a hundred guys who never pan out.
All that said, I think OLB is a strong possibility in the first round. As I said I’m not so hot on Miller, but I will be keeping my eye on the draft stock of UCLA’s Akeem Ayers. Not sure if he’ll be considered a reach at #11 by draft day, but as of this early stage – I’m a fan.
Even though he’s still under contract, I’ll be shocked if the Texans bring Eugene Wilson back for another season. We Texan fans have been screaming for the Texans to get over their fear of using high picks on safeties for a long time now, and I don’t expect them to look at one in the first round. It’s not the way they do business, and more importantly, there isn’t a guy at that position worthy of a mid-first round pick, much less the #11 pick. Now, if UCLA’s Rahim Moore is there in the second round, I’d take a hard look at him.
My early pick
This is going to come down to value. While I’d love to have a NT or FS in the first round, there just isn’t a guy out there at those positions worth the pick. All signs seem to point to OLB in the first round at this point, and though it’s certainly not an original thought, it might be the smartest move if the Texans want to get the best player available at a need position.
Again, it’s ridiculously early, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on what position you’d like to see the Texans burn that first round pick on. I wouldn’t even be shocked to see WR suggested, especially when you bring up the question of value. Obviously this abhorrent defense needs a LOT of help, but would you want the Texans to reach for a need position if Alabama WR Julio Jones is sitting there at #11? I’d have to seriously consider that, as insane as it sounds right now.