Maybe Brooks Reed becomes the Texans inside linebacker next to Brian Cushing, but I was still surprised that the team decided not to draft a player at the position. I was also surprised to see Max Bullough from Michigan State go undrafted; he was a player I hoped the Texans would target in the sixth round if he made it that far.
Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com likes his football intelligence, tackling skill and physicality. Nawrocki had him rated as a possible fourth-round pick.
Terrific football intelligence. Keys and diagnoses quickly, understands run fits and spills willingly. Physical -- good take-on/tackle strengh between the tackles. Pursues hard. Good tackler when he's able to square up ball carriers. Two-year captain with outstanding football character. Leads vocally and by example. Football is in his blood and approaches the game accordingly. His 30 bench-press reps were tied for most among linebackers at the combine.
Of course, as a guy who went undrafted, he has many flaws as Nawrocki points out.
Average athlete. Not explosive. Tight hips (exposed in space). Limited foot speed, lateral agility and range. Can be late to the perimeter. Struggles in man coverage and is stiff dropping/turning in coverage.
I don't want to get too excited about an undrafted free agent, but I really think signing Bullough was a great move. The downside on him is that he's not very strong in coverage, so he'll likely be a two-down player and come off the field when the Texans go into their nickel or dime package.
If Coach O'Brien is true to his word of playing nickel 70 percent of the time, then maybe Bullough will be just a one-down player, which perhaps explains why the team didn't seem to value the position during the draft.
In my opinion, whenever Bullough gets on the field, he has enough skill to make an impact in run defense. Bullough was a two-time team captain and led the Spartans in tackles in 2011 and 2012.
With Joe Mays and Darryl Sharpton gone from last season, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bullough get a good amount of playing time next to Brian Cushing next season.