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Deciding to go with defense in the first round illustrates how the identity of this team is shifting away from the Johnson-Schaub-Foster crew to the Cushing-Joseph-Watt posse. Stocking up on another athletic blitzer with your most valuable selection makes perfect sense.
Even two blown Andre Johnson hamstrings in 2011 and the impending release of Jacoby Jones were not reason enough to grab a receiver before the third round. With all the depth at this position going into the draft, even the highest ranked candidates had holes in their skill sets.
So trading down may have meant gambling on the potential of Posey and Martin, but it allowed them to acquire Brooks and Jones as reinforcements for the OL.
Add Sports Illustrated cover boy Jared Crick on top of all this, and you have a class that rivals any team relegated to the lower echelons of the draft order.
Even squandering a pick on a kicker can’t ruin this party. Bullock will likely get the job coming out of preseason, but every free-agent kicker available will have a speed dial icon on Rick Smith’s smartphone.
But did the Texans get enough value to upgrade the team?
Brandon Brooks could supplant the brittle Antoine Caldwell at RG, Posey is penciled in as the No. 3 receiver, and the PR job is Martin’s to lose. And Whitney The Merciless may be just a situational sub on passing downs, but his performance will be critical in keeping the Texans’ defense ranked second in opposing QB rating.
In the end, this determination will come down largely to injuries. In 2011, “Next Man Up” was the call when Matt Schaub, Mario Williams, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson were lost. T.J. Yates, Brooks Reed and Ben Tate, all essentially rookies, filled in respectively and in admirable fashion.
But there was not an effective replacement for Johnson, and the departure of Jacoby Jones was confirmation of this shortcoming. If Johnson goes down again for an extended period, the new blood has to come through to keep the WR position off life support.
So my answer to the upgrade question is, “Yes, for now.”
These are rookies after all. The game at this level is faster, more complex, with every aspect more demanding. When the season goes live, and my “for now” qualifier is removed, let’s hope Texans fans will reply, “Without a doubt.”