After having one of the best first-round picks with the selection of DeAndre Hopkins, there were high hopes for the Texans' second-round pick, and when Arthur Brown fell through the second round, it looked like a perfect match.
Unfortunately, that did not pan out, but the Texans got another great piece in free safety D.J. Swearinger out of South Carolina. He brings plenty of physical tools and is someone that can take over for Ed Reed upon his retirement.
What else does Swearinger bring to the Texans, and is he someone that can contribute immediately?
Role and roster fit
Swearinger is going to be the primary backup safety to start. Because the Texans have two quality starters in Ed Reed and Danieal Manning, there is no pressure for Swearinger to be a day-one starter.
Reed and Manning are both over 30, so while the two are plenty capable, Swearinger is certainly going to see the field next year, likely in all 16 games. That's not what his main role will be to start, however.
For now, he will be learning under Reed and Manning. Swearinger is an aggressive guy, perhaps overly so. If anyone can get him to be physical without being a penalty-drawing machine, it will be Ed Reed, who remains one of the best safeties in the game.
Reed is nearly 35, so over the first few seasons, Swearinger will get more playing time, and by the end of 2014, it's entirely reasonable to say that he will be a starter at that point in time. By then, under coach Wade Phillips, he should be groomed into a force.
Unlike Hopkins, who will contribute immediately for the Texans, Swearinger is a player who is going to gradually immerse himself in the Texans' roster and will really start showing up partway through the season.
He has a great enough motor that he and Ed Reed will make the Texans forget about Glover Quin relatively quickly, and while he needs work in man coverage, he can work as a fifth defensive back in nickel situations to start.
While his appearances are not going to count as starts on the stat sheet, after Reed and Manning the depth at safety is questionable at best. As a result, Swearinger is going to get a lot of playing time, especially if Reed and Manning can't go three downs every time.
For statistics, I see two interceptions his rookie year, and 30-40 tackles, which doesn't sound like much, but then again Reed and Manning will handle the bulk of that.
The key for me will be forced fumbles and pass deflections. If he can block 10 or more passes and can force a couple fumbles, then it will tell me that he is learning the tricks of man coverage, and will be fine at the next level.
For that matter, if he can exceed 40 tackles and start a few games, then it will look like a great pick in hindsight. For now I consider it a B+ grade since he's not going to be a day one starter, but three to five years from now it could look like a gem of a pick, and that's what matters going forward.
Being the primary depth for a potential Super Bowl winner doesn't hurt either.