Houston Texans 2013 Mock Draft: Full 7-Round Predictions, 1 Week Ahead of Draft
There are plenty of holes on the roster from top to bottom, so all nine of the team's selections should prove to be precious. For a team coming off of 22 wins in two years, there's plenty of work to be done in this year's draft.
After free agency produced mixed feelings among fans, the draft presents a real opportunity for the organization to replenish its cupboard and solidify its status as one of the top teams in the conference.
With the draft one week away, here's a fresh look at predicting who the Texans will pick in every round.
Round 1: Robert Woods, WR, Southern California Trojans
If the Texans are looking for an instant impact receiver who can run the full route-tree from day one, Robert Woods is that guy.
As possibly the most refined route runner in the draft, Woods' advanced feel for getting separation combined with his technique is something Gary Kubiak and the Texans will place a high value on.
It's possible Woods could be the highest-ranked wideout on the Texans' board, given his polish and system fit.
He's one of the few receiver prospects in this draft who the organization could push along quickly and get solid production from as a rookie. He's been compared to Reggie Wayne and some feel his ceiling is somewhere around there.
There's nothing special about his size (6'0", 201 pounds) or speed (4.51), which is what critics continue to harp on. Many feel his lack of a special standout physical trait should push him into the second round, but the Texans won't think that way.
Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports has Woods rated as the 26th-best player in the draft. He offered one of the best summaries of Woods out there:
In the end, I believe that Woods is less a possession guy with a low ceiling and more the type of player who will provide optimal value to his NFL team with an early and easy command of the little things required for greatness at his position. He is a reliable route receiver and a gamebreaker able to affect coverages on a regular basis -- not to mention, a great example of the truism that playing receiver is about far more than track speed.
Woods is probably the best fit at wide receiver for the Texans in the draft. If this is the pick on draft day, fans should be more than satisfied.
Round 2: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina Gamecocks
The second round will be the ideal time to hunt for a safety. It's a deep class and there are many different flavors to choose from.
D.J. Swearinger offers intensity and toughness on a Brian Cushing level. If the Texans are comfortable enough with him handling the coverage duties they require, they shouldn't hesitate to make this addition to their defense.
His instincts, feel for the safety position and quickness in short space well make up for his perceived deficiencies in coverage due to long speed concerns.
Swearinger was asked to handle all sorts of coverage duties at South Carolina, whether it was playing in single-high coverage, the deep half of the field, the deep third of the field or even at cornerback at times.
For a player who often gets slapped with coverage concerns, you don't see plays going over his head on tape like his reputation would suggest. It's worth noting he posted the top-three cone drill time (6.70) at the combine for safeties and put up an impressive 20-yard shuttle (4.11).
His comparison to T.J. Ward is apt and he would benefit from similar use in the NFL.
You won't find a more physical, hard-hitting safety in this draft class. Houston's defense suffered from soft play against the run too often when Cushing went down last season.
Swearinger could add a physical dynamic to the back end that's presently missing. This physical element he brings makes him one of the more special prospects at safety in the draft.
There could be other intriguing safety options on the board at this time and it'll come down to the Texans' preference in skill sets.
Swearinger's traits are more of what's missing from the Texans' safety depth right now, which could push the choice in his favor come draft weekend.
Round 3: David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado Buffaloes
David Bakhtiari fits the "overachiever" profile often associated with Texans offensive linemen.
Even in the mid-rounds, Houston can still find a viable starting right tackle and Bakhtiari should be a prospect the organization likes.
As far as physical traits go, Bakhtiari has what NFL teams look for on the line. CBSsports.com highlighted a few of his strengths:
Physically looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman. Has long arms and good overall weight distribution. Has a thick lower half and good core flexibility, well suited to anchoring against bull rushers. Good initial quickness. Consistently is the first Colorado offensive lineman off the snap and shows the ability to jump off the ball, turn and seal off defenders in the running game.
The former Buffalo standout offers an upgrade to the Texans' current situation at right tackle. Though waiting until the third round may be perceived as the Houston organization not addressing right tackle aggressively enough, Bakhtiari is more than adequate.
There are some critics who project him to being a guard in the NFL. His greatest value in the league will be at tackle in a zone scheme and the right side should be an easier transition for him than the left.
There were some who projected Duane Brown at guard for similar reasons to Bakhtiari and that would've been a major waste of Duane's potential.
Bakhtiari will need some coaching, as any rookie offensive lineman does, but fans should fully expect the "overachiever" label to follow him to the NFL. When he hangs around as a starter in the league for seven to 10 years, this pick could be remembered as the best of this draft class.
Round 3: Jon Bostic, MLB, Florida Gators
The Texans are expected to take an inside linebacker somewhere in this draft. The key will be to not force the pick.
Jon Bostic would be a great value selection late in the third round.
Bostic could come in and immediately be an impact inside 'backer on first- and second-down. His strength is playing downhill against the run where he can see the play develop, diagnose and attack with plus straight-line speed (4.61).
He tested better than expected at the combine and was the glue of a very good and aggressive Florida Gators defense. Bostic should fit in well with the feisty personality of Houston's front seven.
There's potential for Bostic to be more than just a two-down linebacker, which will be attractive to teams. He showed at the combine he can run well enough for evaluators to feel comfortable projecting him to play on passing downs.
B/R's Sigmund Bloom expanded on his pass coverage with a few notes:
Dropping into zone coverage, knowing responsibilities, recognizing when to follow or leave a man going through his zone and closing quickly on the ball are all quality points of Bostic's game against the pass. His awareness makes his changes of direction sharp and decisive in zone coverage. Bostic can effectively drop far enough downfield to defend seam routes, but he is at his best making plays in front of him.
The former Gator shows a solid all-around game, but initially, the Texans won't need Bostic to come in and take over the defense as an every-down middle linebacker. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can use him in spots that play to his strength of attacking down hill on run downs.
If the Texans are in the market for mid-round inside linebackers, Bostic should be on their short list.
Round 4: B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary Tribe
Cornerbacks capable of playing sticky man coverage are hard to come by. The Texans could steal one who can handle those duties in sleeper B.W. Webb as late as the fourth round of the draft.
There are teams who will be turned off by his size (5'10" and 184 pounds) and arm length (30.25"). With 4.51 speed to go with it, there's a reason he'll be around this late. However, Webb's ability to mirror in man-coverage with great feet and plus-man skills will attract a number of NFL teams.
He's a playmaker type who frequently got his hands on the ball at William & Mary. Webb displays above-average ball skills with collegiate production to back it up.
David DeNatale of ESPN Cleveland touched on this aspect of his game:
Webb is a player who seems to rise to the occasion when his team needs him the most. As a redshirt freshman, he intercepted three passes, including one for a touchdown in William & Mary's huge upset win over Virginia. He's got the tenacious attitude you want for a cornerback and his athleticism is impressive. He has intercepted eight passes in a season so the hands are there to make plays.
Most seem to feel comfortable with him playing outside or in the slot, which will only help him stay on the field more. Mid-round corners can sometimes be a bit of a crapshoot and some feel he's a bit untested coming from a small school like William & Mary.
There's reason to have hesitation with Webb, but at this point, his upside as a potential edge-corner is too much to pass on.
There are many small school defensive backs playing at a high level in the league and Webb could be the next to make a big impact.
Round 5: Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas Razorbacks
Finding weapons who present coverage mismatches like Chris Gragg are hard to come by.
Gary Kubiak could plug Gragg into the role vacated by former fifth-round pick James Casey in time and have a major mismatch for defenses on his hands.
The Texans probably wouldn't hesitate to play him in-line at tight end or split out as a wide receiver either. Anyway you use him, Gragg could be a major weapon at the next level.
After leaving Indy as one of the combine's "workout warriors", Gragg proved he's one of the most physically gifted tight ends/h-backs in this draft, despite his height (6'3").
Think about the kind of weapon Delanie Walker was for the San Francisco 49ers' offense and you can envision the type of player Gragg could be in the NFL.
He could take some time developing before he's an impact on the offense, but the former Razorback seems to fit what the Texans look for in offensive mismatches.
Houston loves run/pass disguise on its offense and Gragg gives the Texans another chess piece for that look. Gragg can block more than what most might expect from a player who's considered more of a receiving threat and isn't afraid to mix it up in the running game.
The Texans can maintain that versatility to the offense that was lost when James Casey signed with the Philadelphia Eagles by instantly replacing him with Gragg.
Round 6: Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt Commodores
The Texans could prepare a season early for life after Ben Tate with a pick like this late in the draft.
Zac Stacy is the complete package at his position and is best-suited in a one-cut zone scheme like the Texans run. There's much to like about Stacy even though he doesn't have top-end speed (4.55) or good size (5'8", 216 pounds) for the position.
As a productive starter in the SEC for two years, he showed he has very good vision, can push the pile forward despite his small frame and doesn't leave many yards on the field. He has a very good sense for the position and seems like a back who Kubiak would trust pretty quickly.
Although he may not run in the 4.4s, he's no stranger to big plays. He had two runs over 80 yards with two receptions over 50 yards last season. He's had seven runs over 40 yards in the past two years.
Stacy's ability to above-average ability to pass-block and catch the ball out of the backfield will allow him to play on third downs too. He has experience running with, and without, a fullback in front of him to also win favor with the Texans.
Houston only has two running backs under contract, yet its offense is based on having an effective running game. If injuries take a toll on this part of the depth chart, the Texans could be stuck playing a free agent off the street if they don't add another to the group.
Running back has some depth in this year's draft. Plucking a quality back like Stacy this late is definitely a possibility.
Round 6: Phillip Steward, OLB, Houston Cougars
The Texans have a history of exploring the local campuses for talent and it would be no surprise to hear this name from the Houston Cougars on draft day in the later rounds
Phillip Steward could fill a role as a sub-package coverage linebacker on third downs and offers some upside as an inside linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 scheme. His immediate value would be on special teams where he would be an upgrade to every unit.
The former Cougar posted high production in college, particular with an impressive 11 career interceptions. His size (6'0", 223 pounds) will turn some teams off and there's legitimate concerns about his take-on skills on running downs.
Coverage 'backers are in demand in any scheme, however, and there's a place for his range and ability to cover on the Texans' defense.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has used a rotation at inside linebacker so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Texans use a coverage specialist like Steward off the bench.
Houston's inside linebackers could use some fresh new bodies and Steward would complement the group with his skills.
Round 7: Jayson DiManche, OLB, Southern Illinois Salukis
Watch Jayson DiManche at Southern Illinois and you might mistake him for Elvis Dumervil.
DiManche comes off the edge as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the Salukis' defense with a special quickness that could translate well to the NFL. Edge-rushers with that elite quick-twitch are difficult to find and it looks as if DiManche has that.
In this video, you can see the outside linebacker defeat double-teams, chip-blocks and one-on-ones with tackles. You can even see him flash his moves against respectable competition like the Miami Ohio Redhawks.
His size (6'2", 229 pounds) is a major concern and would be the key reason for him falling this far. He'll likely be drafted off of his one special qualities, like his quick first-step, and it'll be up to the team drafting him to develop him.
The Texans have taken time developing backup outside linebacker Bryan Braman and DiManche would come to the team as that type of a project.
Dumvervil plays at 5'11 and 260 pounds, so DiManche will need to add some bulk and weight. James Harrison dominated in the NFL as a smaller, undrafted free agent at 6'0 and in the 240-pound range, so DiManche has a chance if he works as hard as a seventh-round pick needs to in order to make an NFL roster.
The Texans are no strangers to plucking low-risk, high-reward players off of small school campuses. This pick would fit that philosophy.