Obviously, Texas A&M OLB Von Miller, who we all assume would be the Texans most-coveted pick, is going to be long gone by the time Houston picks at #11.
I know North Carolina OLB Robert Quinn is the projected Texans pick according to my own Texans Mock Draft Tracker, but I think he’s going to be gone as well. I just think there’s too much talent there, and someone is going to snap him up.
Missouri’s Aldon Smith, another OLB who figures into the first-round mix, may very well be in Houston’s first-round crosshairs. I however, think he’s a reach at #11, and for the purposes of this entry I’m going to assume the Texans agree (though Smith in a trade-down situation might be somewhat more agreeable).
So if it plays out the way I think it might, and the Texans pass on Smith – no OLB in the first round. We’ll be looking at a guy like CB Prince Amukamara, DEs Cameron Jordan or JJ Watt, or someone else.
If no shiny new pass-rushing OLB is to be delivered in the first round, you would have to think the Texans would be an almost sure-thing to draft one in the 2nd. But who’s out there? Maybe these guys:
Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Ayers was a first round lock for the longest time, but his disappointing performance at the Combine (specifically, his 4.8 40 time) has him on the slide. I’m not buying it, though. Ayers may not have “tested” well, but I think he plays faster than 4.8. I still think he goes late first, early second at the LATEST. If they pass on an OLB in the first and Ayers is there when the Texans pick at 42, it would be tough to pass.
Brooks Reed, Arizona
Reed is raw and lacks a lot of rushing moves, but he is a high-effort player who is said to be very coachable. He has top-end leadership abilities and character. (ALERT! HIGH CHARACTER PLAYER! ALERT!) You know the Texans are intrigued.
Dontay Moch, Nevada
This is the hot non-first round OLB name right now. Moch made himself some money at the Combine, where he ran a ridiculous 4.4 40. I’m a little concerned that he may take longer to develop than the Texans can afford to allow, but his speed is freakish. I have seen the dreaded “Vernon Gholston comparison” associated with Moch, and have also seen the tag “great athlete, not a great football player.” Still, he may be hard to pass up for the Texans depending on how the draft board shakes out.
Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh
Sheard played DE in college, but is thought by some to be a guy who can play OLB in a 3-4. He’s a playmaker, and racked up a ton of tackles-for-loss in college. He is said to be inconsistent, and I’ve read that his motor is strong, but is not a player you’d describe as a “high motor” guy. What’s that? He was arrested for assault? Never mind.
Other OLB names thought to be 2-3 round prospects:
Sam Acho, Texas
Bruce Carter, North Carolina
Chris Carter, Fresno State