Fellow Texans blogger and friend of the site Jake Langenkamp recently wrote this article, inspired by myself and other Texans fans/bloggers who see no reason for the Texans to use an early-round draft pick on a cornerback.
I’m very much of that opinion. During open practices last training camp, myself, Alan Burge, Rivers McCown, Mike Kerns, Big Ron, John Hallam & Barrett Walton were gathered in what became kind of a daily “blogger summit.” Steph Stradley was around too if I recall. I hope I’m not leaving anyone out.
Toward the end of one of these pow-wows, Burge took a quick, informal poll. I don’t recall the exact phrasing, but I believe it was something along the lines of “what is your biggest concern heading into the season?” I believe myself and one other person said “the young secondary.” I think everyone else said “the pass rush.”
The secondary was certainly the most visible and obvious problem last season, but I wouldn’t say it turned out to be worse than the pass rush. It’s like asking, what’s a worse TV show: LOST or HEROES? Who cares, they’re both garbage. (Yes, they are.)
So, Jake thinks not drafting a cornerback early could be a disaster for the Texans. I’m not sure why. The Texans need a veteran starter, period. They can’t take the chance that another “NFL-ready” cornerback will come in and get his head kicked in week in and week out next year.
Jake says “I don’t think the carnage Texans fans witnessed out of Jackson is indicative of what his career will be like.”
Two responses to this. 1 – That’s a pretty safe thing to say, because Jackson quite literally couldn’t get any worse than he was last year, and 2 – For everyone that says Jackson will get better, I’ve yet to see an explanation of why. His technique is terrible. He has no make-up speed. He has no ball instincts. He can’t jam. He gets turned around too easily, and on and on.
He might be better next year, but part of that will be because of the natural spike that (we hope) players sometimes have from year one to year two. Another part will be because like Jackson himself, the Texans’ defense as a whole can’t possibly get any worse. I’m the last guy who buys in 100% to Wade Phillips being some kind of defensive savior, but yes – just hiring him makes the Texans a better defense. He’s got too much success on his track record, and Frank Bush was probably the worst coordinator in the NFL last year. Or the last 100 years.
Jake goes on: “…the Texans coaching staff put (Jackson) in a position to fail last season.” This is another popular opinion that I don’t understand. The Texans took a talented corner, coached by Nick Saban, from a big-time college program, who was rated as a late-first or second-rounder and (GASP!) started him, as a rookie! BAD Texans coaching staff! What were they supposed to do? Develop him? He wasn’t a 4th-rounder. Yes, the Texans reached for him – but it’s not like Kareem Jackson was meant to be a guy selected in the middle of the draft.
It’s true, the Texans did have terrible coaching last year, but is Kareem Jackson not responsible for his own bad play? What percentage of that is on the coaches? Should he not have been expected to be at least mediocre? Let’s not lose sight of Jackson here, guys. He wasn’t average. He wasn’t below average – he was GHASTLY. Bad coaching certainly didn’t help that, but Jackson is who he is.
Is Jackson going to be better because he’s secretly going to go from being putrid, to average? Not a chance. There will be a better defense. He will be a year older, with another camp under his belt. So yeah, there will be that – but if you’re expecting much more, prepare to be disappointed.
So what does another early corner do for this team? If Prince Amukamara is there, and more preferred picks are off the board? I wouldn’t be happy, but there are worse ideas. But to reach for a corner in the first, or get a 2nd or 3rd rounder? The way this team evaluates defensive talent? Yeah, I’d rather take my chances with the free agent crop.
It’s a pretty strong free agent class for corners, but the Texans should absolutely not stop with getting a starter. Brice McCain should be gone next year (but probably won’t be), as should Antwaun Molden. The Texans could easily shore up their DB depth with some cheaper free agents, or maybe a mid-low draft pick. But an early pick? I don’t see it, and I don’t see the need. Especially with all the needs this team has… but it’s going to depend on the board and who’s available. I’m a big proponent of taking the best player available, so I’d be pretty hypocritical to discount a good 3rd-rounder if he’s a much better player than a guy at another position.
Another quote from Jake from the article: “The notion that signing a free agent to bring veteran presence will solve the secondary’s problems is short sighted.” How is it any more short-sighted than the idea that another unproven rookie will solve the problem? It’s short-sighted to think that ANYTHING this team, with its history of drafting defensive players and signing free agents – will solve the problem. What gives you the best chance of the two? In my view, a guy that has proven he can play.
More from Jake: “If you acquire only one starting free agent corner but refuse to draft one (NOTE: which is not the same thing as refusing to draft one early), you are left with Jackson, re-signing Jason Allen, or Sherrick McManis as the second starter.” Or… signing more than one free agent. Why is that out of the question? If you’re going to go get a starter in free agency, what’s the difference between then going after your depth via free agency again, or a low draft pick? This team can’t afford to pass on the best players at their positions, but they also can’t afford to throw good money after bad (see how well that worked out with the selections of Travis Johnson, then Amobi Okoye?).
If there’s a corner in the first three rounds who is a tremendous value when the Texans pick, or a guy who inexplicably falls? Again, I can’t vehemently argue against making that pick. But to target a corner early with all the other needs this team has, and the (eventual) available free agents – I don’t understand.
It is true that the safety play was terrible last year. But so was the corner play. And so was the pass rush. You can’t heap blame on the safeties for how bad the corners played, then at the same time heap blame on the corners for how bad the safeties played. They were ALL bad. Jackson didn’t do Bernard Pollard any favors. Pollard didn’t do any for Jackson, either – and the predictably anemic pass rush didn’t do anything to lighten the load either. There was plenty of blame to go around.
So go ahead and draft a corner early if it means getting a tremendous talent at a good value… but I maintain that the last thing this secondary needs is to get younger and less experienced.