Round 1, Pick 1: Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Round 2, Pick 33: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Round 3, Pick 65: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Round 3, Pick 83: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Round 4, Pick 135: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
Round 6, Pick 177: Jeoffrey Pagan, DE, Alabama
Round 6, Pick 181: Alfred Blue, RB, LSU
Round 6, Pick 211: Jay Prosch, FB, Auburn
Round 7, Pick 216: Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
Round 7, Pick 256: Lonnie Ballentine, FS, Memphis
Overall Grade: B+
At first glance, I think this class has a chance to go down as the best draft class in Texans team history. Currently that title belongs to the 2006 draft class, in which Houston drafted three Pro Bowl players—Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Owen Daniels—along with another solid starter in Eric Winston.
Going by the prospect rankings from CBS Sports, the Texans selected three players with a first-round grade. On top of that, they got guys who could be nice role players or solid reserve players like C.J. Fiedorowicz and Jay Prosch, who was the top-rated fullback on the board.
Their last pick—Lonnie Ballentine—is a freak athletically who could be a special teams stud.
Going back to their earlier picks, the addition of Jadeveon Clowney and Louis Nix gives the Texans a chance to have the best front seven in the league within a year or two. The combination of Clowney and Nix with the NFL's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Cushing will keep opposing offensive coordinators up at night. Their defensive backs will look much better when they don't have to cover as long because the front seven is getting quick pressure and causing havoc.
With all these positives, I'm sure you're asking why I only gave them a B+.
The reason I lowered the grade was due to their quarterback selection and because I didn't think they got great value with some of their day-three picks where they chose to select them.
I loved the picks of Jay Prosch and Lonnie Ballentine, but I wish they had gone in a different direction with their other three sixth- and seventh-round picks.
The 2014 NFL Draft had 256 picks; Jeoffrey Pagan, Alfred Blue and Andre Hal were all ranked below 256 by CBS Sports and probably would have been available in a later round or possibly as an undrafted free agent. Of course, drafts never play out exactly like prospect rankings, but I think there were better picks available.
At running back, Houston took Alfred Blue over Storm Johnson, who was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round, and who I thought was a much better prospect. Johnson had a great season last year and looks the part of an NFL back; Blue was often injured or the reserve back when healthy and never had more than 80 carries in any season at LSU.
Pagan and Hal might end up being good players, but the Texans took them over better prospects at other positions of need like inside linebacker. More specifically, I thought they should have selected Christian Jones or Shayne Skov to fill that need over Hal with the first pick in the seventh round.
The Battle Red Blog believes Hal will be the best cornerback in the draft. If that's true, maybe Hal should have been selected instead of Blue in the sixth round. Then Houston could have selected an inside linebacker with the first pick in Round 7.
I'm not trying to knock Hal, but coming away with no inside linebackers was inexcusable. Cushing is a great player when healthy, but he's coming back after a season ended by knee surgery for the second consecutive year.
After him, who else do they have?
Joe Mays and Darryl Sharpton both left the team this offseason as free agents, leaving a gigantic hole at the position that wasn't filled with a starting-caliber player.
Again, overall the Texans did a very good job during the draft. I just think they lost sight of their biggest needs during day three and didn't get the best value possible out of each draft pick.