2012 NFL Draft: What to Expect from Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones' Rookie Years

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistMay 4, 2012

Jones is just happy to be here.
Jones is just happy to be here.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

After months of media hype, the NFL draft is over, and fans finally have new members of their team to welcome to town.

Expectations for draft picks are high, but are they too high?

Over the course of the next few weeks, "What to Expect" will examine every draft pick from the AFC South in its historical context. Using past performances from similarly drafted players and by examining the way in which each team develops certain positions, I will create a realistic baseline by which to judge the performance of each pick.

Readers should be aware that rookies historically perform much, much worse than fan expectations.

Also keep in mind that I am not saying the player will perform to these expectations, but rather anything better than the results should be considered a successful rookie year, and anything worse would be a disappointment.

These are not predictions. They are baselines.


The Houston Texans took two interior linemen in the third and fourth rounds of the draft. That seems like a good value spot to take centers and guards, and Houston scooped up Brandon Brooks (G-76) and Ben Jones (C-99).

What can the Texans expect to get out of them next year? Since 2005, there have been roughly 44 interior linemen drafted in the third and fourth rounds. It can be difficult to nail down perfectly because some guards are labeled as tackles in draft records.

Here's what we can learn from these players:

  • Seven became primary starters their rookie years. Four never played a down in the NFL.
  • Twenty-one played in at least eight games. Fourteen played in fewer than four.
  • Thirty-three started four games or fewer.

The Texans have drafted seven offensive linemen in the third round in their history. It's obviously a prime spot for them to go after linemen. Of those seven, only Fred Weary (back in the expansion days) and Eric Winston started significantly in year one. It's clear the Texans have a culture of drafting linemen as backups and letting them grow into starters.



  • Brooks and Jones should both make the squad.
  • They should appear in half of the Texans' games.
  • They should each pick up at least a couple of starts depending on the injury situation along the line.

These are fair, reasonable expectations for interior linemen taken at this stage of the draft. Though sometimes players like this become regular starters, it's not the norm. When a team like Houston takes lineman in this stage, it is looking a year or two down the road and to provide depth for 2012.

If the Texans get any more than that out of Brooks and Jones, they did very well indeed.

Long term, the Texans can hope to find a solid starter at best. Since 2000, there have been roughly 106 interior linemen taken in this range. Seven of them went on to Pro Bowls. That's under 7 percent. The vast majority of linemen taken in this range are out of football in three years or less.