Stephanie Stradley notes as part of her excellent NFL Combine entry that both Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith have recently downplayed the need for a big, wide-bodied nose tackle. It’s a fight many of us have been fighting for years… we all want a big fat guy to plug the middle and tie up blockers. The Texans, by my calculations, want us to keep wanting one.
I don’t recall a time during the Kubiak/Smith regime that the Texans “used the media” to throw other teams off the scent of what they wanted in the draft. That’s not a criticism, it’s just not their style. So no, I don’t think our dynamic duo is scheming when they play up the need for an OLB or CB, and say that they can probably make due with the guys they have at NT (or at least come off like they’re not interested in drafting one early).
It’s clear this team has a huge amount of needs, especially on defense. It’s hard to argue against the fact that the worst secondary in the universe needs MULTIPLE early-round picks in the upcoming draft to actually be “on the right track.” But there’s no way – NO WAY – the Texans believe their own noise about having Shaun Cody or Earl Mitchell play NT. As I’ve been saying since this 3-4 switch, the starting NT for the Texans is not on the roster. If that’s not the case, then the Texans aren’t as serious about turning this thing around quickly as they’d have you believe. Sure, I’ll take Mitchell as a backup at that position, but for a team in need of an immediate defensive turnaround, 2nd-year player Earl Mitchell can’t be your starting NT in the first year of an entirely new defensive scheme.
I recently asked 1560 The Game morning show host Lance Zierlein via Twitter if he thought the Texans were at all serious about this Cody/Mitchell as NT nonsense they’ve been propagating. His response: “There is no way the Texans actually believe that they have the NT spot covered right now. No possible way.”
So, here’s hoping we are right about the Texans’ intentions at the NT spot. The guy at the top of my list is Alabama’s Marcell Dareus. Here’s a look at Dareus by Jake over at Battle Red Blog. Dareus is probably not going to be there at 11, and the longer he stays on the board, the better chance someone is going to trade up for him… but if he is there when the Texans pick, you can bet I will be screaming his name in a fit of rage at the television, preemptively angry that the Texans won’t pull the trigger.
Of course there are lower-rated NT prospects out there, which we’ll kick around leading up to the draft. One name you can definitely cross off the list is free agent Shaun Rogers, the native Houstonian who signed with the New Orleans Saints today. He expressed interest in playing for Houston, but there were, I’m sure, too many other suitors with better offers out there.