2012 NFL Draft: Houston Texans' Strategy to Load Up on Defense

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistApril 23, 2012

Hill could carry a big stick for the Texans
Hill could carry a big stick for the TexansKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

All this has happened before, all this will happen again.

Teams tend to fall into patterns when it comes to the draft, so by analyzing past draft strategies we can gain insight into what moves a team might make.

Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith arrived in Houston in 2006. That gives us 46 draft choices to deal with.

What can we learn from those 46 picks?

The Texans love to draft defense. 54% of all players taken by the Texans have been defensive players. More telling is the fact that 83% of first rounders and 80% of second rounders since 2006 have been on D. Of the last 11 first- and second-round picks the Texans have had, only two (Duane brown and Ben Tate) have been offensive players.

It's more than just defense, however, the Texans specifically love to target defensive backs, especially in the mid-to-late rounds. They've taken 12 defensive backs (26% of total picks) since 2006, and nine of those came in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

Part of the reason why so many people (including me) think the Texans are due to select a wideout in the first round is that they haven't invested in the position in years. They've taken just four receivers in the last six drafts, and only one (Jacoby Jones) was taken after the third round.

Even though Coby Fleener could be a nice fit in Houston, the Texans have already drafted three tight ends in the last three drafts. It's hard to see where another one fits in.

The Texans have taken eight offensive lineman in this span, and five of them came in the third round or earlier. For a team that runs a zone blocking scheme that's supposed to take advantage of interchangeable linemen, that's a bit of a surprise.

The 2012 draft will be an interesting philosophical test for the Texans. If they follow their long-standing pattern, you'll see more defensive players in the early rounds followed by corners late. If, however, the Texans are satisfied with their roster, they'll break their mold and look to bolster the offense early.

This is such a good draft for receivers in the mid-20s that I can see the Texans taking a shot to replenish a receiving group that is mediocre at best once you get past Andre Johnson. That target probably won't be Fleener, however.