5 Late-Round Prospects That Would Be Perfect for the Houston Texaans
By now, everyone knows who they want the Houston Texans to draft in the first round. And they will defend their chosen players with a surprising amount of ferocity.
Names like DeAndre Hopkins, Alec Ogletree, Terrance Williams, Robert Woods, Keenan Allen and Tavon Austin are being tossed about with such great excitement that one would assume the Texans had already drafted all of them.
So, in order to avoid controversy, let's move to a much less anger-inducing topic: late-round prospects.
Scouting late-round prospects is fun. It really comes down to personal preference, as there is really no right or wrong prediction.
Late rounders, however, sometimes turn into stars. Just ask Tom Brady.
So here are my future stars for the Texans.
Quanterus Smith, OLB, Western Kentucky
When it's all said and done, Quanterus Smith could end up being one of the biggest steals of the NFL draft.
Smith is an explosive pass-rusher, one who was seemingly able to reach the quarterback at will. In the season opener versus Alabama—the defending and future national champions—Smith recorded three sacks against one of the most dominant offensive lines in recent memory.
Why then, you ask, is Smith projected to go so late in the draft?
After 10 games, Smith tragically tore his ACL, which will likely make it nearly impossible for him to play a significant amount of time next season.
However, despite the fact that Smith's health is in question, he is well worth the risk. Smith would be a valuable backup in the Texans' defensive system—the Texans require three capable outside linebackers, and they currently only have two—and he could eventually become an effective starter.
If Smith can get healthy and add some bulk, he could become a terrifying pass-rushing force. It would be fantastic to see what he could do for the Texans' pass rush.
Marvin Burdette, ILB, UAB
In Wade Phillips' defense, especially without a second great inside linebacker, the nickel and dime is employed often.
That means on third down, the Texans' defense often takes its second inside linebacker off the field in exchange for an extra defensive back. In this system, the primary purpose of the second inside linebacker is to be a run-stopper, as he is asked to leave the field on passing downs.
Marvin Burdette is the definition of a monster run-stopper.
Last season, Burdette led the NCAA in tackles with a whopping 157 of them, an average of just about 13 per game.
Incredibly strong and also agile on his feet, Burdette is excellent at diagnosing running plays and attacking lead blockers and running backs. Due to his strength, Burdette is able to power through the lead blocker and still make a play on the ball.
Burdette has plenty of potential, and he can become a valuable contributor to the Texans' run defense in the near future.
Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn State
It is difficult to find a story more devastating than MIchael Mauti's.
A highly touted recruit coming out of high school, Mauti was expected to become a star and leader on the Nittany Lions' stout defense.
Mauti, however, suffered a torn ACL in 2009 and his promising season was painfully ended. Then, two years later, Mauti tore his other ACL, creating an extreme worry for his health.
In his senior season, though, everything seemed to resolve itself. Mauti was fully healthy and putting up incredible performance after incredible performance. He was looking every part the talented, future NFL linebacker that he was expected to become.
Then, the unthinkable happened. He injured his knee late in the season, effectively ending his season.
Mauti would have been at least a third-round pick if he had remained healthy. Now, due to his extensive injury history, it is quite likely that he could go undrafted.
Mauti, though, is simply too talented for that too happen.
If he can remain healthy, Mauti can become a solid starter in the NFL. In one of the later rounds, why should the Texans not take the risk?
Michael Hill, RB, Missouri Western
Once the 2013 season rolls around, the Texans will have a new third-string running back, as Justin Forsett left in free agency. Terribly exciting stuff.
In all honesty, though, the third-string running back can be very important in the Texans' offense, which is extremely dependent on the run. Also, Ben Tate—Arian Foster's backup—will be a free agent next season, and if the Texans are not able to re-sign him, then they will have a major hole at running back.
So why not draft a third-string running back and potential backup now?
Michael Hill is the guy they should be targeting.
Hill was a superstar at Missouri Western last season, rushing for 1,809 yards and a breathtaking 7.4 yards per carry.
Hill has been criticized for playing against lesser competition in Division II. In the Raycom All-Star game, though, Hill competed against many elite defenders in a pro-style offense, and he managed to rack up 148 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries.
Hill has breakout potential, and the Texans, who will soon be running back-desperate, would be wise to snatch him up.
Jasper Collins, WR, Mount Union
Like Michael Hill, Jasper Collins played against inferior competition in college at the University of Mount Union.
Despite being a D-III school, Mount Union has produced several NFL players. Receivers Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts headline the list.
Collins is looking to become the next great Mount Union receiver to make a name for himself in the NFL. Collins hauled in 92 receptions for a total of 1,694 yards and 22 touchdowns last season, completely dominating his opponents.
In the East-West Shrine Game, Dane Brugler of NFLdraftscout.com summed up Collins' skill-set quite well.
Considering he is the only Division-III prospect participating this week (in East-West Shrine Game), it was even more impressive that Collins was the most polished route runner and consistent receiver on the roster. He isn't the biggest or the fastest, but he displayed excellent footwork and short-area quickness to set up his routes, keep defenders off balance and create separation to give the quarterback an open target. Coming from the same program that produced NFL starting receivers Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts, Collins is used to expectations, and he passed this week with flying colors."
The Texans are desperate for help at the receiver position, and Collins might just end up being that needed diamond in the rough.
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