Sunday, March 19, 2006

Team Spotlight: Houston Texans

Draft Choices (8 total):
Round 1 (#1)
Round 2 (#33)
Round 3 (#65 and #66)
Round 4 (#97)
Round 5 (#129)
Round 6 (#160)
Round 7 (#192)
*Not counting compenatory picks.

New Staff
The first thing you look at with Houston is the new coaching staff. Gary Kubiak comes in from Denver to be the 2nd
Head Coach in Texans history. Along with him comes the West Coast Offense and a 4-3 scheme on defense. GM Charley Casserly is still in town, so I wouldn't expect scouting philosophy to change drastically, other than players fitting the new schemes. If there is one thing Kubiak might take from Denver it would be to wait on running backs and offensive linemen in the draft--pretty much the opposite of what most think Houston will do in April. Casserly had this to say about the switch to a 4-3:

“It’s affected it in reverse. What I mean by that is in the fall a lot of these 250-pound defensive linemen we just wrote them off as linebackers and if we didn’t think athletically they could play linebacker, we just kind of put them to the side.

“Now we have to go back on some of these players and redo them because they don’t have to play linebacker. We’ve had to convert some our scouting grades from the fall into a new system.”



Offensive Needs
For as bad as the Texans were in 2005, they have talent on offense. The front office is standing behind David Carr and thinks he can flourish in the WCO. A lot of that will depend on his ability to take a 3-step drop and get the ball out quickly. That should cut the sacks in half--a weak offensive line isn't the only reason Carr has been getting sacked a record number of times. In fact, the offensive line in Houston is probably underrated and has produced a solid running game. A franchise left tackle wouldn't hurt, but don't expect too many early round picks along the offensive line. Kubiak knows he can get athletic, workman-like players with later picks and develop them, as was the case in Denver and most WCO teams. Gaffney and Bradford have both moved on, so depth is very thin at WR. A #2 guy to go between Andre Johnson and Jerome Mathis would be ideal. There are rumors that Houston may make a run at signing RFA Nate Burleson from Minnesota, giving up a 3rd rounder (not a bad deal) as compensation. A traditional pass-catching tight end is a must too. Like WR, there should be good value at TE through the early 4th round.

Day One:
OT, WR, TE

Day Two:
OG, FB, TE

Defensive Needs
The defense was worse than the offense in '05. Prior to the signing of defensive end Anthony Weaver from Baltimore, I would have listed strong side DE as the #1 need in Houston. Now it looks as if they have a starting unit intact--albeit a lackluster group. Babin and Peek are a fine rotation on the right side. DT is pretty deep with Paine, Smith and 2005 draft pick Travis johnson. Bottom line is somebody has to provide a passrush. Linebacker is another group that has depth, but could really use a stud to build around. The defensive backfield has Dunta Robinson and basically nobody else. Phillip Buchanon is a castaway from oakland and the group of safeties are mediocre at best. Expect at least one DB on day one and probably a free agent starter too.

Day One:
S, CB, MLB/SLB

Day Two:
LDE, CB, LB

Day One Prjection
Round 1, pick #1
Reggie Bush, RB, USC
I don't love this pick for Houston (and haven't for a while). I had them taking Mario Williams in my latest mock, but it seems, with the signing of Anthony Weaver, that they are looking elsewhere on draft day. That leaves Reggie or a trade down for D'brickashaw Ferguson. Super Mario could still be a possibility in that scenario. Runningbacks are a dime-a-dozen and Domanick Davis could be a stud in Kubiak's offense. Thats not to say Bush wouldn't succeed--just that he isn't necessary. One thing is for certain, Bush will be huge in fantasy leagues. His cutback burst should create tons of big plays. If it's between Bush and Ferguson, do yourselves a favor, stay put and take Reggie. Not a big fan of Ferguson and OT has value throughout day one.

Round 2, pick #33
Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State
OT has value here, but it should in the 3rd as well. Defense must be addressed. There will be a DB available here. Which one is uncertain, but my best guess with the most value will be Whitner. This guy has 4.4 speed and can pack a punch as well as cover. Whitner should provide a much need presence in centerfiled.

Other prospect I like in this spot; Ko Simpson, Jason Allen, Demeco Ryans, Ernie Sims, Pat Watkins, Ashton Youboty, Kelly Jennings and Jonathan Scott.

Round 3, pick #65
Daryn Colledge, OT, Boise State
Colledge fits Kubiak's offense like a glove. This guy could be a huge steal here. He's a very good pass blocker that could play OT for years. He is also athletic enough to play guard and do everything asked at that position. Either way, he should stay on the left side. Honestly, I dont think there is much drop off from the overrated D'brickashaw Ferguson to the underrated Colledge.

Round 3, pick #66
Gerris Wilkinson, MLB, Georgia Tech
Linebackers tend to fall on draft day. Wilkinson is the total package at inside linebacker, but doesn't have the hype of others in this draft. He's smart, has good size, can run sideline to sideline, and bring the wood. A great addition to the future front seven in Houston.

Other possibilities in the 3rd round; Devin Aromashodu, Maurice Stovall, Todd Watkins, Freddie Roach, Greg Eslinger , Andrew Whitworth and Joe Klopfenstein.

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