Which Undrafted Houston Texans Have Best Chances to Contribute in 2012?
In 2009, a running back out of Tennessee joined the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent. There were no expectations of him, no accomplishments that he needed to fulfill, but nevertheless, Arian Foster went on to join the elite class of running backs in the NFL.
Now, as the 2012 season approaches, the current group of undrafted players are looking to achieve what Foster has already attained: stardom.
The National Football League, however, is a tough business to succeed in, and the odds are stacked against all the athletes on the Texans who did not hear their named called on draft day.
Here is a list of players who can contribute for the Texans in the upcoming season.
Jason Ford: FB
Jason Ford has the chance to receive the most playing time out of any of the other undrafted free agents on the roster.
The Texans are weak at fullback, as their only other lead-blocker, James Casey, will also be playing as a tight end in the upcoming season.
Furthermore, Casey is not an excellent blocker in short yardage and power formations, so the Texans must find a fullback that has the ability to play a great number of downs, as well as being capable of powering through goal line defenses.
That will be the job for Jason Ford.
Out of Illinois, Ford is a big, powerful runner who can punish opposing defenders. He has the size and strength to pave the way for either Arian Foster or Ben Tate, and he can be extremely useful when the Texans need to convert in short yardage situations.
Although he still needs to improve his blocking technique, Ford has the athletic abilities that are required of fullbacks looking to make it in the NFL.
He must become a more trustworthy ball-carrier, as fumbles have been an issue for him in the past, and he can also improve his skills as a receiver.
Despite having several weaknesses, Ford fills a need for the Texans, and he will be given many opportunities to become a key contributor throughout the 2012 season.
Hebron "Loni" Fangupo: NT
Hebron Fangupo has the size to fill one of the few positions on the Texans' depth chart that is significantly weaker than the others.
Weighing in at 331 pounds, Fangupo can be the answer at nose tackle that the Texans have sought for. The only other two nose tackles on the roster, Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell, are undersized and therefore cannot effectively fill gaps on the defensive line against the run.
Although Cody and Mitchell use their speed to their advantage, and have not hurt the Texans' defense in any way, Fangupo has the potential to bring it to new heights.
While he will be just competing for a roster spot, Fangupo has the opportunity to become an important contributor to the defense because of his large size and impressive strength.
Fangupo can become a valuable run-stopper for the Texans, as his thickness will allow him to plug gaps and fill holes at the line of scrimmage, which can earn him a considerable amount of playing time.
Jonathan Grimes: HB
Jonathan Grimes is everything one could possibly wish for in a third-string running back.
He is neither a speed back nor a power back, but he displays the qualities of both. He attacks the hole and never gives up on a play, which wears down opposing defenses. When he makes it through the line of scrimmage, he has the ability to accelerate quickly, allowing him to break off big runs.
Grimes is a very experienced pass-catcher; he can be a threat coming out of the backfield on passing plays, making him one more player for a defense to worry about.
Despite all of his other talents, Grimes can contribute in another very important way: the return game.
Playing at William & Mary, Grimes won the All-CAA special teams player of the year award, and his ability to break off for huge gains as a returner proves why. If Keshawn Martin cannot become an explosive and effective returner for the Texans, as he is predicted to do so, then Grimes might be the second-best option.
If Grimes can beat out Davin Meggett and Javarris Williams for the third running back slot, the all-time leading rusher in FCS history will have the chance to prove his worth in NFL and play an important for the Houston Texans.
Davin Meggett: HB
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Like Jonathan Grimes, Davin Meggett will be competing for the third and final halfback roster spot. Unlike Grimes, he is not a versatile threat in the backfield, but he is very good at what he does.
He is extremely strong and powerful for a running back, and he is one of those ball-carriers that opposing defenders do not look forward to tackling.
Meggett is great at breaking through arm tackles and is extremely tough to bring down, which are abilities that are vital for a third-string running back.
A third-stringer needs to be able to come into the game in the fourth quarter and pound away on a defense. Despite the fact that he will only receiver significant playing time when his team has a noticeable lead, he needs to be able to gain sufficient yardage on every play, so the opposing team cannot claw its way back into the game.
A third-string running back needs to be a closer. Meggett, with his ability to power his way for extra yards on every down, can certainly be that for the Houston Texans.
Logan Brock: TE
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An undrafted tight end will make the final roster for the Texans this season.
With only two-and-a-half tight ends—James Casey will also be playing half his snaps at fullback—guaranteed to make the roster, there is much needed room for another tight end, as the Texans greatly utilize that position in their everyday offense.
Logan Brock will be one of the undrafted players to be competing for that spot, and he certainly makes a favorable case for himself.
At the tight end position, there are two skills that are completely different yet equally as important: blocking and receiving. Brock falls on the blocking side of the spectrum, which happens to be a premium on the Texans.
The Texans' offense is dependent on their rushing attack, and players that are dependable blockers are extremely important in it.
Brock is a skilled blocker who fights constantly to get positioning on his opponents. He has the ability to open up ideal holes for the running back very well.
If Brock makes the roster, he will likely find himself playing in double tight end sets quite often as a lead blocker, which will garner him a distinguishable amount of playing time.
Phillip Supernaw: TE
Phillip Supernaw, unlike Logan Brock, is a versatile tight end who brings a multitude of skills to the table.
He can catch, run routes and block; he does all three extremely well. Although he is not as great of a blocker as Brock, he offers a completely different skill-set than Brock in the receiving game, while he is also very skilled at blocker.
He has supple hands, decent speed and noticeable strength. He's a player who can do it all and excel at everything, and him being named to All-Conference in the Gulf South Conference reflects that.
Supernaw understands how the tight end position is meant to be played, and he can be a valuable asset for the Texans in 2012.