Sometimes there's just that perfect fit between team and prospect.
Whether it's a zone-scheme offensive lineman or a 3-4 outside linebacker, teams have certain types of players they look for. These types of players are usually dictated by scheme and/or preference of the coaching staff and front office. It isn't all performance-related either, as intangibles and off the field issues are viewed differently by all 32 NFL teams, and it plays a factor in the evaluation in varying degrees.
Prospects always have a better chance of NFL success when they find their perfect team match. The draft doesn't always unfold that way, but the Houston Texans have done a good job of finding players who fit what they're looking for.
Would J.J. Watt have registered 20.5 sacks last year if he hadn't landed in a 3-4 defense with a coordinator who was willing to move him all over the line? How many career yards and touchdowns would Arian Foster have if he'd spent his entire career in a power running scheme? Would Derek Newton have ever started an NFL game at this point in his career if the Texans hadn't drafted him?
A match between player and team can be a major difference in career success as we've seen with those players.
The Houston Texans' 2013 draft class may not produce a player of Watt or Foster's caliber, but it could still net a few key difference-makers who can help the team make a third run at an AFC South title.
So continue reading on to see which draft prospects would fit perfectly with the Texans.
The Houston Texans will be looking hard in this draft for a young safety to play behind Ed Reed and Danieal Manning.
LSU isn't a bad place to find defensive prospects, and safety Eric Reid profiles as another quality defensive back from the Baton Rouge campus.
Reid is an explosive hitter with center-field range and should have the ability to handle those duties in the NFL. He can be seen on tape laying big hits on receivers over the middle and jarring out would-be completions. Even when playing deep, he has the range and recognition skills to come up and make plays against the run.
After a solid collegiate career, Reid has displayed his athleticism for evaluators throughout the draft process. At 6'1" and 213 pounds, the former Tiger ran in the 4.5s at the combine and helped answer some speed concerns.
He finished as the top performer at his position in the broad and vertical jump, confirming the explosive lower body you see in his big hits. His size and speed combination screams early round pick.
The safety finished up his last public workout on a high note, leaving his draft status somewhere no later than the mid-second round. Russ Lande of the National Football Post confirmed the safety's excellent showing at his pro day:
While Mingo may have had the best workout, safety Eric Reid just missed beating him out as he was outstanding according to sources in attendance. For a player that many have been criticizing as not a good enough athlete to be effective covering slot receivers and in deep coverage, this workout definitely put those concerns to bed. He showed that he has great agility and coordination to change directions fast, the burst of acceleration to get to full speed fast and the elite speed to run with any slot receiver on deep routes.
You can begin to see why he's a perfect fit with the Texans as a high draft pick when you consider his character:
In addition to possessing elite athleticism, Reid is viewed as a high character kid with the type of intangibles that NFL teams love. Sources at the workout told us that the LSU people rave about what an incredible young man Reid is and that whatever teams draft him is going to love character, work ethic and passion for the game.
With a handful of quality safeties in this draft, intangibles like that could be the key to the Texans deciding which safety they want to invest an early-round pick in. When you consider he competed at the highest level in the SEC West, there are few areas Reid doesn't check off in.
If there's a perfect safety prospect who the Texans have a realistic shot at picking, Reid is probably that guy.
There are more than a few linebackers in this draft who could fit in well with the Texans. Sio Moore could end up being the best fit out of all of them.
Used in a number of roles in his Connecticut Huskies career, Sio Moore showed impressive versatility, making a number of plays rushing as a defensive end with his hand in the ground and as a stand-up linebacker covering down field.
Moore isn't afraid to lay the big hit, plays very disciplined and flashes plus instincts both in coverage and against the run. Blitzing should be one of his strengths in the NFL because he uses his above-average straight-line speed to his advantage and has good closing speed when he keys in on a target.
Shedding blocks is a commonly attributed weakness of Moore's. He gets lost in the trash too often for a linebacker and could be exposed when playing against heavy formations in the NFL.
The former Husky has the ability to play all four linebacker positions in Houston's 3-4 defense. His long-term home is likely at inside linebacker, where his speed and athleticism can be used to blitz and cover when needed. The plus part of Moore's game is that he should be able to play on third down in the NFL because of his comfort in coverage and upside as a rusher.
After helping himself with standout performances in the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, Moore followed it up by posting freakish numbers at the combine. Moore opted to stand on those numbers at his pro day.
The flexibility provided by his ability to play a number of positions on game day will up his value in the eyes of the NFL. He could fall anywhere between the second and third round, where the Texans happen to have three picks.
The versatile 'backer fits the feisty personality of the Texans' front-seven—another reason why Wade Phillips could be pounding the table for him come draft weekend.
David Quessenberry isn't one of the popular names in the pool of tackles in this draft, but he could end up being one of the few to nail down a starting job from day one.
As a right tackle, Quessenberry should be able to hold his own in both pass protection and in the run game. While he isn't a great athlete, his technique, combined with his grit, effort and ability to finish blocks, makes up for it.
His 34 3/8" arms will bode well for him in pass protection, allowing him to keep rushers away from his body. He showed the ability to do this at a high level as a San Jose State Spartan against more than just lower-level competition.
The small-school tackle was never going to blow up the combine, but when he's been tested in on-field drills, he's stood out in a big way. At the Senior Bowl, Quessenberry was one of the few tackles to block some of the highly talented defensive linemen in Mobile that week. While other higher-rated tackles like Justin Pugh struggled, Quessenberry stepped in and looked noticeably more comfortable.
His scouting report from NFL.com sums up his pass protection well:
Plays with low pad level and flashes the mean streak. Possesses the natural bend to succeed in pass protection, both mirroring ends while leveraging a strong punch and riding edge rushers around the pocket. Plays under control, and shows some agility and quickness in his pass set. Recovers well if lunging off the snap.
And his run-blocking:
Used on trap plays inside from the left tackle spot and usually hits his linebacker target – just as he does when simply stepping forward to the second level. In short-yardage situations, able to drive off the snap and play with leverage.
At 6'5" and 302 pounds, he has the size needed to be an NFL right tackle. With his arm length, combined with adequate enough athleticism to move in Houston's zone-blocking scheme, Quessenberry has the tools the Texans will be looking for in a tackle.
What makes him the perfect fit is the fact that he could be had as late as the third round, where most seem to have him projected.
Landing a starting tackle that late in the draft would be a major get for the Texans.
Once considered a slam dunk to be a top ten pick, Jarvis Jones has seen his stock take an unbelievable nose dive.
Splash plays as a Georgia Bulldog, big-time sack production and recognition as one of the top defensive players in college football in recent years hasn't helped him enough to avoid being labeled as one of the "fallers" in this draft.
With the draft only weeks away, Jones has crept into the realm of possibility for the Texans in the first round. One of the most respected analysts in the draft business, Gil Brandt, has dropped him out of the first round entirely.
Despite flashing the ability to be an impact pass rusher, too often he is a non-factor rushing the QB. While he flashes rare initial quickness and the speed to get the corner, more often than not he does not burst off the ball and when he doesn't he cannot threaten as an edge rusher. He has a bad habit of stopping his feet and quitting on pass rush if his initial pass rush move is stopped.
While these concerns are notable, that "rare initial quickness" is what gets players drafted in the top 10 and is one of the key reasons why the Texans should be interested. Lande also goes on to note coverage concerns, but Jones will be drafted to rush the quarterback, so the main focus of concern should be there.
There are medical issues with Jones too. His history with spinal stenosis shouldn't be brushed aside, although he has been cleared to play "without restriction". His career shelf life has been questioned because of it, so that's something to consider.
After not working out at the combine, Jones had a poor showing at his pro day where he ran much slower than expected. Mel Kiper touched on Jones' pro day via Chris McCosky of The Detroit News:
"His workout didn't shock me, but it surprised me," Kiper said. "I thought he'd run 4.7. He ran 4.8, 4.9. The conditions weren't favorable. But (Ravens linebacker) Terrell Suggs ran 4.8, 4.9 in that range and I remember everybody questioning him — 'He's not explosive enough, he'll get blocked.' He's had a great career and the Ravens took him with the 10th overall pick."
He could end up being a perfect fit for the Texans, because they could land one of the best players in the draft picking in the late 20s. Kiper also touched on that possibility:
"It's going to take a bold team that doesn't care about perception or justifying that 40 time," he said. "If he gets past 17, then you get to the point where you really start falling. Bottom line — top-10 ability, top-10 player, subpar workout and a below-average 40, but still mid-first round when it's all said and done."
Considering all of the baggage surrounding Jones, no one should rule out the possibility of him being there at 27 when the Texans pick.
Any prospect in this draft who brings a legitimate home-run threat to Houston's offense and special teams is a perfect fit. Marquise Goodwin and his world-class speed should do the trick.
With four picks in the top 100, the Texans have enough ammo to make a luxury selection, and that's exactly what a pick like this would be.
There's no question the Texans need a tall, big-bodied X-receiver and Goodwin (5'9" and 193 pounds) isn't that. However, coming out of the draft with two receivers would be wise considering what the Texans have at the position right now.
Goodwin brings top-end speed (4.27) to the unit—an element the offense desperately lacked in 2012, and it became painfully obvious down the stretch.
Every offense needs a burner capable of running straight down field and threatening safeties vertically, because (at the very least) it gives the quarterback bigger windows to throw into at the intermediate and underneath levels.
With Goodwin, he has the speed to get behind an NFL secondary. Considering the Texans' propensity to use play-action, a vertical threat like Goodwin could be deadly running fly patterns past safeties who bite on the run fake.
While Goodwin was featured poorly as a Texas Longhorn, an NFL offense could find much better use of him.
He's often written off as just a track guy (he competed in the Olympics), however, his rawness as a football player is exaggerated. You can see him running more than just a nine route (running straight) at Texas. He caught a big touchdown in the Longhorns' bowl game against Oregon State with a double move, something he'll be asked to do in the NFL regularly.
The understated part of Goodwin's game is his value on special teams. He'd instantly be one of the top five fastest returners in football from day one. Goodwin played on special teams as a Longhorn and he'll play on all units in the NFL.
Given the number of roles he could fill, and the special speed quality he brings, Goodwin would be a perfect fit with the Texans.
If the Texans are looking for an impact nose tackle beyond the first two rounds, Montori Hughes could be the big man they're looking for.
His baggage has been well-documented, and it will affect his draft stock. It could serve a team like the Texans well because they will be interested in addressing the position, but maybe not necessarily with an early-round pick.
Hughes has above-average size and movement skills that a 3-4 team like the Texans will covet. He's capable of playing in backfields because of his quick twitch, but can also hold up against double teams with strength and leverage. The complete package he brings in that regard will get him on the field more than most situational run-down only nose tackles.
The draft process has been good to Hughes, despite his rocky collegiate career.
Even though he's not a classic small school story because he did start his career at Tennessee, he still acquitted himself against the big time competition at the Senior Bowl.
With little college production to speak of at Tennessee-Martin, he needed to have a good week in Mobile to keep himself on NFL radar screens. All of his tools were on display, and he left making a solid impression.
The nose tackles with movement skills are likely to be targeted by the Texans over the less-mobile, mammoth-sized ones. With Hughes, he possesses both the size and the speed.
The tools and upside are there, it's just a matter of the right situation and right coaching finding him. Houston is one of those places for Hughes.
Add Stedman Bailey to the short list of prospects who could play every receiver position in the Texans' offense and contribute immediately.
As one of the most polished route runners in the draft, Bailey uses his body control, strength and savvy in space to get open and will do the same in the NFL.
He won't blow you away with size (5'10" and 193 pounds) or speed (4.52), but rather technique, consistency, a high football IQ and plus hands. He'll fit into any NFL offense because of these traits.
The former Mountaineer's scouting report via CBSsports goes into detail about his strengths:
Bailey is a balanced athlete with quick feet in/out of his breaks and the agility in the open field to make defenders miss. He is a smart route-runner and knows how to bait defenders and attract defensive pass interference penalties. Bailey shows excellent patience and burst in his routes with good stop-and-go motions to release at the line of scrimmage and gain a step or work back to the ball. He does a nice job gaining inside position and uses his body well, doing a nice job catching the ball in stride.
In an offense like Houston's where timing is essential, receivers who can be where they need to be on time with precise route running will be valued more than the height/weight/speed receivers who have less of a feel for routes. Bailey's ability to read and set up defenses will also help get him on the field quickly.
There's also less projection with Bailey than most receivers in this draft, as he proved at West Virginia that he can translate his abilities to production on the field. Bailey enjoyed one of the most productive seasons for any college receiver in 2012—hauling in 114 receptions and 25 touchdowns in a Mountaineers offense that leaned on him to be a consistent catch machine week in and week out.
With the way he gets separation, and the strength he has at his size, Bailey has drawn comparisons to Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith. Others have compared him to a mix of Smith and Seattle Seahawks wideout Golden Tate.
If the Texans are looking for a mid-round receiver who can be relied on for 70-80 catches a year, they won't find one with as high of a floor and less risk than Stedman Bailey.