Predictably, the Texans attacked their woeful defense on on all fronts over the course of the NFL Draft.
Out of eight picks, the Texans grabbed six defensive players, and they hit all three elements (defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs) at least once.
But what happens now? Well, we can only hope – a whole hell of a lot. I agree that the Texans had a pretty solid, to very good draft. I mean that, of course, in terms of filling needs and getting value. We won’t know about player performance for a couple of years at least.
Let’s just jump into this thing, looking at holes in the defense going forward:
Yeah, I know. Shaun Cody. Earl Mitchell. Okay, fine. I accept it. One of those guys is going to start. Keep in mind, I really like Earl Mitchell… but as the starting nose tackle in the first year of a 3-4, in a year where the defense needs an immediate turnaround? Come on. By now you know how I feel about Shaun Cody, so I won’t whine about that again (uh, tonight). But the Texans need a backup plan (at multiple positions) if this doesn’t work out. They need to sign a veteran free agent NT, and they will. It won’t be a guy we get excited about, but they’ll bring in someone. They’d be insane not to.
I absolutely love the Brandon Harris pick, and I was very happy with the addition of Roc Carmichael. In a perfect world, the Texans will sign a starting-caliber free agent cornerback. One starter, done. Next, hey – Kareem Jackson? Yeah, you’re not going anywhere. You’re in our long-term future plans, for sure… but here’s the thing, and stay with me here because this is insane – you have to earn your starting spot. You have to earn your NICKEL spot. You have to earn ANY spot on this defense.
I’m not going to hear anymore of this “Jackson was put in a position to fail last year” nonsense. Yeah, fine. Frank Bush and David Gibbs did him no favors. But guys who can play show flashes of being guys who can play. Kareem showed me nothing like that last year. I saw a guy who looked lost and confused, and was not just a step behind guys – but SEVERAL strides behind. I didn’t see any flashes of a first, or even a fourth round draft pick. That said, I’m not ready to give up on the guy (but the clock is ticking. Loudly). Let’s see how he does with better coaching and, hopefully, a pass rush.
So I’d like to see a new starter next year come via free agency (which is still a virtual lock to happen, of course), and I’d love to see Kareem EARN that other starter role, but he’s not likely going to have to. If not, hey, Brandon Harris? Come on down! Kareem, slide down a spot and take the nickel. Can’t earn that either? Step up, Roc. Sherrick McManis, what do you have? John McClain seems to think that Brice McCain will go into camp as the nickel corner. Heh, sorry, but I’ll take never-played-a-down-in-the-NFL Brandon Harris in that spot please, and
maybe even Roc… and Sherrick… and and and.
It seems a certainty that Glover Quin is moving to free safety. While I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, it is a little curious that a team with the worst secondary in the history in the universe would take its best cornerback, and change his position. Quin is better when he lines up inside, though. This transition makes sense – I just wish they’d instead seek out a solid free agent starter rather than go this route, or better yet – draft one in the early rounds. But maybe Quin can excel at FS. I can certainly envision his success at FS more than I can see Cody doing well as a 3-4 NT.
Similar to the NT position though, if Quin is a disaster at FS, the Texans better have something in mind. But with all the other needs, it’s not like you can go sign a guy who could start a NT and FS if the expected starters don’t work out. It’s a gamble… kind of like the entire secondary last year. Who could have seen that coming? Oh, right – everybody but the Texans.
All signs point to Troy Nolan. It’s typical Texans thinking – well, he showed some signs of having a nose for the ball a few times last year SO HE IS READY TO BE A STARTER ON A TERRIBLE DEFENSE!!!!! Ooohhhkaaayy. Let’s not go crazy based on a few flashes here and there. The team drafted Shiloh Keo, who is an interesting developmental safety. I’d like to see him at least get a fair shot to compete for the starting job if they’re not going to bring in a veteran starter. I don’t say that because I think Keo is talented and skilled enough to take the job – I just don’t want the Texans to be locked in on Nolan. Nolan may very well take that next step and become a decent starter, but again – new scheme, supposedly a quick turnaround, yikes. Danger.
Certainly there are other depth needs on the defense, but these are the big red flag issues. Now, if only we could get to free agency, perhaps we could get some of this stuff figured out.