5 Draft Targets Houston Texans Must Be Cautious of Heading into Scouting Combine

Ben LaymanCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2013

5 Draft Targets Houston Texans Must Be Cautious of Heading into Scouting Combine

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    As the draft process continues to unfold, the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine is the next major event on deck.

    Beginning Saturday in Indianapolis, the best prospects in the draft will be showcased for the judging eyes of the NFL.

    The Houston Texans can be expected to use the Combine as all other NFL teams do—as an opportunity to gather even more information about the 2013 class.

    There are always a handful of prospects to be extra cautious of in every draft class. Not every player turns out to be an Andre Johnson or J.J. Watt, and the Combine goes a long way towards helping teams identify issues with players, whether it's physical or character-related.

    That isn't to say the Texans should avoid players with any form of baggage, but rather to be cautious of it as we head into the Combine.

    The following players should be on Houston's list of draft targets. The problem is they carry some form of risk that will be impossible to ignore when handing out a final draft grade.

    Here's a look at these draft targets who the Texans should be cautious of this week in Indy.

Alec Ogletree

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    Alec Ogletree has long been a draft hopeful for many Texans fans.

    After reports surfaced of the former Georgia Bulldog being cited for a DUI recently, his chances of remaining on Houston's draft board dwindled.

    This isn't the first time he's been arrested, and Houston doesn't have a track record of drafting players high with multiple run-ins with the law during college.

    The issue with Ogletree is whether or not the Texans can get past his previous indiscretions. It would be a shame to see the organization pass on the linebacker, just to see a team like the Baltimore Ravens or Denver Broncos scoop him up in later picks.

    If he goes on to have an incident-free NFL career, the Texans will be kicking themselves. The player on the field is someone Houston should be interested in. A linebacker who runs like a safety is exactly what the defense needs at inside linebacker.

    Given his repeated mistakes at crucial times in his playing career, it's easy to understand why teams would be skeptical of him magically becoming a model citizen in the NFL. Not that he needs to do that, but football should be his top priority, and his behavior doesn't portray that.

    Teams want players who play on Sundays, not ones who regularly visit Roger Goodell to discuss discipline and suspensions.

    Ogletree will likely have a successful showing in Indy on the field, but the moment of truth will be in his interviews with teams. He will have plenty of explaining to do, and that will ultimately determine his draft status.

Ezekiel Ansah

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    Easily one of the most polarizing prospects in this year's class, Ezekiel Ansah can be found all over mock drafts.

    Looking lost after a week of forgettable practices, the former BYU Cougar showed in the Senior Bowl game why he should be on radar screens, despite his lack of polish.

    After seeing him catch one of the most elusive players in the draft (Denard Robinson) from behind with jaw-dropping pursuit, league folks are now considering him as a possible solution to stopping the quarterback option teams are having success with now.

    The former BYU Cougar will again look to flash in another event in the draft process after standing out in the Senior Bowl game. The Scouting Combine should be an ideal platform for the defensive lineman to showcase his top-notch athleticism.

    Described as a "freak" by scouts, Ansah will probably run and jump better than many tight ends his same size, let alone the other defensive linemen. At 6'6" and 270 pounds, he should pass the physical tests with flying colors, and he'll be one of the media darlings of the Combine.

    However, for some scouts, "Ziggy" Ansah's rawness is too much to get past. He really doesn't know what he's doing with his hands when rushing, and when he is effective, it's mostly due to second-effort. He'll need much more than a bull-rush to survive in the NFL, but many successful pass-rushers enter the league with only one trick in the bag.

    After only one year of starting at BYU and not much college production to speak of, the critics will still have plenty to harp on with Ansah even after he blows up in Indy.

    With the draft being as unpredictable as it is, the Texans could have a chance at Ziggy come late April.

Manti Te'o

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    The NFL world will finally have a chance to get to know Manti Te'o in a football setting following the fake girlfriend incident.

    Not that Te'o should be expected to blow up the workouts, but rather the true test will be to see how he handles the spotlight. Will the NFL leave Indianapolis talking more about the football player or the constant media sideshow he brings with him?

    If there was ever a reason why the Texans would pass on Te'o, in all likelihood, it would be to avoid the media circus. Houston has passed on signing players like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens in the past for likely these same reasons. Even if the football player can help the team, the constant distraction is something the Texans organization has no interest in.

    Te'o has done a questionable job handling the situation to this point. However, he could all but put the incident behind him and everyone else with solid, honest interviews in Indy.

    In preparation for the Combine, Te'o has spent time training at the IMG Academy with other prospects. Director of football operations for the academy, Chris Weinke, spoke to ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas about what he's seen from Te'o:

    He's gone about his business and been the same guy all along. I really admire that because a lot of guys his age would not be able to handle this as well as he has. I haven't seen any signs of it being a distraction, and I expect him to go up to Indianapolis and have a great combine.

    Hopefully by the time draft weekend comes around, the focus on Te'o will be more on what he can bring to a team on the field.

    If that's the case, without question, he should be one of Houston's first-round targets.

Marcus Davis

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    Wide receiver should be a priority for the Texans in this draft. If they decide to wait past the first three rounds to take one, the pickens will get slim in a hurry.

    Marcus Davis (6'4" and 232 pounds) is one of a few intriguing mid-to-late round receiving prospects who will generate major buzz in Indy. Physique-wise, he's comparable to Andre Johnson. He'll run, jump and measure as well as some of the top receivers in this year's class as well.

    As much as there is to like about him, there are plenty of reasons to hesitate falling in love with him as a Texans target. Dane Brugler of NFLdraftscout.com had this to say about Davis after watching one of his games:

    His hand/eye coordination has been a question mark this season and in this game after several throws went off his hands, struggling on throws away from his body. Davis also made too many mental mistakes in other areas against Florida State, including a lost fumble, holding the ball too loose from his body, and inconsistent blocking effort on several plays. It’s easy to like Davis as a prospect, especially because he will likely blow up the combine with his athletic skill-set, but until he improves his on-field focus and consistency, it’s tough to trust him.

    The former Hokie generated some unfortunate buzz for himself with that particularly weak blocking effort against Florida State, and afterwards a video cut-up of his questionable effort was released. He even responded to the overwhelming criticism via Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post:

    Obviously somebody was bored and they felt they could put up a video, but little did they know, they don’t know the half of it

    Regardless of that incident, it seems like there will be a substantial development period for Marcus Davis. He's probably more likely to be on a practice squad rather than an NFL roster come Week 1.

    The Texans took a flier on a height-weight-speed offensive prospect in Dorin Dickerson in the seventh round a few years ago. That didn't work out well, so it remains to be seen if they would make that gamble again with a prospect like Davis.

Menelik Watson

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    Some prospects are called intriguing and they don't deserve it, but Menelik Watson truly is one of the more interesting Texans targets in this draft.

    Another probable Combine workout warrior, the former Seminole is making a case to be a first-round tackle. When you think of the prototypical, athletic offensive lineman that zone-blocking teams like the Texans love, you think of a player like Watson.

    His NFL.com scouting report reads like a dream:

    Physical specimen. Great size, and tremendously athletic. Explosive first step. Good foot quickness. Showcases mobility and range as a blocker. Able to get to the second level and make cut off blocks. Flexible, bends well. Powerful punch.

    He wouldn't be available in the late part of the first round without some kind of baggage. He is old for a prospect (he'll be 25 as an NFL rookie), and he doesn't have much football experience in college.

    Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com commented on his back story:

    Watson is another player with a unique sporting background. He grew up as a basketball player in England before attending Marist College in New York to play hoops. He also has a boxing background and actually spent time working out with Oscar De La Hoya's trainer.

    So how serious are the Texans about upgrading right tackle? That might be the thing to be most cautious of when looking at any tackle prospects in this year's draft.

    Gary Kubiak's comments on the right side of the offensive line alone should leave fans skeptical of the team drafting any early round tackles (via Houston Texans official website):

    The future is very bright. The left side is very good and the right side is very young, but it’s got a very bright future.

    He didn't come out and say "Derek Newton will be the starting right tackle Week 1." Not that anyone would expect him to, but it does seem like the team is getting more and more comfortable with Newton at right tackle.

    If Watson is on the board when the Texans pick, we'll all see how comfortable the organization really is with Newton.