Houston Texans Mock Draft: Fresh Predictions After the Super Bowl
With the Baltimore Ravens finishing the year as Super Bowl champions, the rest of the league can look on with envy and try to build to achieve the same level of greatness next season.
With a whole draft class and free agents to be added in the coming months, the organization holds a number of precious opportunities to infuse talent.
The 2013 NFL Draft should be the best chance for the organization to improve its roster.
So without further adieu, here is a look at what picks the team could make in each round of the upcoming draft.
Round 1: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal Bears
Keenan Allen NFL Player Comparison
The big-bodied wideout from Cal seems to be flying under the radar in a deep class of receivers.
Keenan Allen is one of the best receivers in this class, but a bundle of elite defensive talent at the top of the draft could push him into the end of the first round.
Adding a playmaker like Allen would be the type of home run pick fans would clamor over on draft day.
You can see Cal's No. 1 receiver making plays after the catch in big games throughout his collegiate career, despite less-than-stellar quarterback play. If you get the ball in his hands, he's the type of receiver who can break arm tackles and make defenders miss.
Bob McNair has pointed out Houston's need at receiver multiple times already this offseason. The organization appears to finally be coming around to the realization that it'll need to put a significant threat on the field opposite of Andre Johnson.
The former Bear would be a great addition to Houston's evolving group of young receivers.
Round 2: Cornelius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State Seminoles
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Expected to be a surefire top 15 pick in the draft heading into the 2012 season, Cornelius "Tank" Carradine tore his ACL in late November. The injury has left his draft stock in serious question.
However, torn ACLs aren't as devastating as they used to be with today's advancements in modern medicine. We've seen young athletes regain elite form after injuries like this.
All eyes will be on the former Florida State Seminoles' recovery, where his medical reports will be examined and scrutinized to the max. If things check out well and a full recovery is expected, he'll still go in the top two rounds of the draft.
The Texans have enough depth in their front seven to wait on Carradine to recover. Called the best pass-rusher in the entire draft by more than a few draft pundits, Tank has all the upside of any defensive prospect.
With a chiseled frame and advanced, refined pass-rush moves off the edge, the physical specimen offers a skill set most teams couldn't find past the first round of the draft. He has all the size and motor the Texans look for in 3-4 outside linebackers.
Landing a talent like this nearly 60 picks into the draft would be a big score for the organization. If Houston can exercise a little patience, the reward could be huge down the line with a talent like this.
Round 3: Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson Tigers
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Adding playmakers on offense should be a priority this offseason. Andre Ellington has the ability to make big plays out of the backfield with top end speed.
More of a space player than someone you'd pound up the middle of a defense, the former Tiger would actually fit Houston's outside stretch-zone scheme well.
Better suited as a No. 2 back than in an every-down role, the change of pace runner would add a major speed dimension for opposing defenses to worry about on Sundays.
Despite already having some talented backs on the roster, it's never a bad time to add another talent to the group. You never know when injuries will take a toll and all the sudden you're down to starting your third running back on Sunday.
With Ben Tate having difficulty staying on the field, the Texans would probably be forced to use Ellington sooner than later. He has highlight-reel ability with the ball in his hands, and Houston needs more players on offense who can take it the distance.
Round 4: Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks
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Big and quick is a good combination to have as an NFL defensive lineman.
The small school defensive line prospect from Tennessee-Martin has both of those qualities, but a few considerable red flags will likely hurt his draft stock.
After a rocky career as a Tennessee Volunteer, which included being suspended from the team and eventually being dismissed, Montori Hughes enrolled at Tennessee-Martin.
Talented and raw, the former Skyhawk has yet to match his potential with actual production on the field. With minimal sack and tackle for loss production at the collegiate level, teams will have to project what Hughes will be able to do at the next level.
Fortunately for Hughes, there's plenty of talent there for the NFL to get excited about. At 6'4" and 327 pounds, the quick-twitched athletic defensive lineman has good strength to go with his large frame.
The former Volunteer is a classic case of high-risk versus high-reward. At some point during the draft, his potential will be too intriguing to pass on.
One-gapping 3-4 teams like Houston will value Hughes more than most. His ability to handle duties from the nose to defensive end should help him get on the field quickly as well.
It remains to be seen if Hughes' name is still on the Texans' draft board given his past hiccups. If he is, the temptation to roll the dice will start to creep in around the middle rounds of the draft.
Getting a possible starting nose tackle with plus movement skills and size in the fourth round would be great value for Houston.
Round 5: A.J. Klein, MLB, Iowa State Cyclones
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A standout in the Shrine Game, A.J. Klein wasted little time putting himself on the map after an overlooked career as an Iowa State Cyclone.
The senior shows all the qualities NFL teams look for in linebackers: leadership, intelligence, hard-hitting ability and an all-day motor.
A lack of height and blazing speed will turn teams off, but at this point in the draft, prospects will come with some baggage. Klein checks out in every other aspect of his game.
The Texans' search for a linebacker to play next to Cushing inside could come to an end with a feisty competitor like Klein.
NEPatriotsDraft.com summarized the former Cyclone well with this scouting report:
Klein is an intense competitor on the football field and is the type of player that every NFL head coach would want on his team. He is a leader on and off the field and has a work ethic that is infectious.
On the field, Klein makes up for his less than elite athleticism with impeccable instincts. He plays within the defense, but is dead set on making every tackle of the game.
He shouldn’t have to come off the field in the NFL if a team wants to play zone, although he may struggle playing man at the next level. His skill-set translates well to special teams as well, so he could be that rare 4-down linebacker that the NFL covets.
Like Hughes, finding a defensive talent like this late in the draft would be a big score for the Texans.
Adding some leadership to the defense shouldn't be overlooked either. After Cushing was lost for the season, there seemed to be a lack of vocal leaders on that side of the ball.
Round 6: Duke Williams, S, Nevada Wolf Pack
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After a solid collegiate career and a good showing in the Senior Bowl, Duke Williams is proving he could be an impact safety in the NFL.
Moved all over Nevada's defense, the defensive back jumps off of the screen.
He has impressive range and can be seen coming from 20-30 yards away to make the play at times. Williams delivers big hits and has some ball skills to go with fair instincts at the position.
The former Wolf Pack has experience lining up inside and outside of the box, as well as at cornerback. He has plus speed for the position, without question.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com expounded on why Williams will be valued by the league:
The evolution of the NFL game makes it imperative to have a safety with excellent cover skills in the middle of the field. Williams has toiled in relative anonymity at Nevada, but scouts on the West Coast believe he has the talent to be a star as a pro. If he can show the ball skills, awareness and big-hit ability he's displayed on tape, he could be an intriguing Day 2 prospect on draft day.
Adding serious competition to the safety group should be a consideration at some point in the draft.
Williams is the type of raw, talented defensive back the Texans could possibly target in the later rounds.
Round 7: Brad Wing, Punter, LSU Tigers
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Is there any harm in adding one of the best punters in the country to one of the worst special teams units in the NFL? The Texans shouldn't think so.
Brad Wing showed the ability to change field position as a punter in the SEC throughout his short collegiate career. He has had a bit of a colorful past off the field at times, but he proved he can punt the football well above all.
We saw the Jacksonville Jaguars take a punter with the 70th overall pick in the draft last year. The Texans might need to roll the dice sooner if they want to have a shot at Wing, but right now it isn't crazy to think he could be had in the seventh round.
Drafting a punter late would be a cheap solution to signing a pricey veteran in free agency. Donnie Jones is headed for free agency, so the Texans will need to address punter eventually.