The Houston Texans have historically been a good drafting team.
Most people probably remember the debate over Mario Williams, Reggie Bush, and Vince Young, but what many don't remember is that aside from Williams, that draft also produced Pro Bowlers DeMeco Ryans and Owen Daniels as well as right guard Eric Winston and steady receiver David Anderson.
The Texans could easily go another ten years and never have another draft class as good as that one.
Then again, they might do better this year.
That's what makes the draft so fun.
So let's take a look at some possibilities for each round and see who might be the best, worst, and most likely scenarios.
Before we start, though, let's set some ground rules.
First, I'm only going to consider positions of need. I'm not going to say that picking Tim Tebow in the first round is the worst case scenario—though few things outside of re-selecting David Carr could be worse—because it's not realistic.
Second, obviously selecting a guy in the third round may be a terrible decision whereas selecting him in the fifth may be brilliant, so I'll try to keep value in mind.
Third, since there are no standards for when a guy will be picked, I am making a rule that I can't use a guy in a round unless I've actually seen him projected there.
With that said, on with the show.
Best Case: Earl Thomas (S-Texas). The Texans' secondary is a huge area of need and this was no more evident than when Eugene Wilson went down and the team had to rely on Dominique Barber and John Busing. There are no corners who could be available when the Texans pick that have me excited, and it may be a stretch to think Thomas could be there, but if he is, he can be the type of ball hawking safety the Texans have been lacking since, well, since forever.
Worst Case: Patrick Robinson (CB- Florida State). Following that same logic for Thomas, the Texans can't throw away their pick on a player who won't help. Robinson has prototypical size and great tangibles, but he hasn't been able to harness it and is not very physical. The Texans improved their defense this season when they became more physical and they always ask their corners to tackle well. They also play a lot of man coverage and Robinson was burnt too much in college. I also considered a myriad of running backs here as a first round pick here would not be the way to go.
Most Likely: Dan Williams (DT- Tennessee). I could have easily put this under "Best Case" as I think he's a great option. The Texans have needs at DT, but they do NOT need another 300 pound under tackle. They need a big body who can hold the point of attack, defend against the run and give Amobi and Mario a chance to run free. Williams would be a great option at 19 or 20—unlike Terrence Cody who needs oxygen after warm-ups.
Best Case: Maurkice Pouncey (C- Florida). I know this won't happen as the coaches for some reason loves Chris Meyers, but the fact is, Meyers sucks. The team drafted Antoine Caldwell last year as a backup, but he's more suited for guard. Even if we keep him at center, Pouncey is athletic enough to be a great guard in the zone blocking scheme, so this could kill two birds with one stone. Of course, he may not make it to our pick.
Worst Case: Jonathan Dwyer (RB- Georgia Tech). I think Dwyer will be a really good pro, and is good value in the second round, but he just doesn't fit the Texans needs. The Texans need a running back who can step in and contribute soon, but Dwyer's time in the triple option mean he has very little experience catching the ball out of the backfield and in pass protection—two areas absolutely critical for a Houston back.
Most Likely: Morgan Burnett (S- Georgia Tech). If we assume that the Texans have drafted Dan Williams in the first, they still need a safety and Morgan Burnett can fill that need. I realize he doesn't have the tackling ability that I just bashed Robinson on, but he does have the ball skills. If the team can make him a better tackler, he might just fill that need.
Best Case: Perrish Cox (CB- Oklahoma St.). I've seen Cox projected anywhere from the first to fourth rounds and if he's available in the third, he would be good value. He would need work as a defensive back, but can be very valuable as a return man as I see the Texans making more use of Jacoby Jones as a receiver and possibly shifting him out of the return game. Cox has all the tangibles you want for a CB prospect.
Worst Case: Arthur Jones (DT- Syracuse). I've found Jones anywhere from the first round to the fifth round. He might be valuable high for a 3-4 team looking at him as a DE, but for any team running the 4-3, he just lacks the size and strength you need inside.
Most Likely: Michael Johnson (OG- Alabama). With season ending injuries to both starting guards this year, the Texans need to upgrade their depth here. Johnson looks like the type of player that can excel in a zone blocking scheme as he is athletic enough to even play tackle.
Best Case: Mardy Gilyard (WR- Cincinnati). Most drafts have Gilyard going in the third, but I've seen him slip to the fourth in a few and he could be great value here. Gilyard's negatives are that he doesn't have the speed to be a number one receiver in the NFL. I remember reading somewhere, though, that the Texans have this position covered. Add in Jacoby Jones and the possible loss of Kevin Walter, and what the Texans need is a receiver with good hands and who can run good routes. Gilyard would fill this need.
Worst Case: Robert Johnson (S - Utah). I've seen Johnson going as high as the fourth, but it's too high. He has good instincts, but doesn't have the physical abilities or change of direction ability to succeed in the NFL.
Most Likely: Montario Hardesty (RB- Tennessee). Hardesty is a one cut runner who should fit the Texans zone blocking scheme well. He's also good at receiving the ball out of the back field, and perhaps most importantly, didn't fumble once in 2009.
Best Case: Joique Bell (RB- Wayne State). Bell was an absolute monster last year rushing for over 2,000 yards. Of course, this was in Division II. He seems to have all the skills you look for in a zone scheme back, but we'll have to see how he performs in the combine.
Worst Case: Riley Cooper (WR- Florida). Cooper was productive his senior year and is athletic, but Florida receivers historically struggle at the next level. Cooper didn't help this perception with his performance at the senior bowl where he didn't run crisp routes and didn't seem to show maximum effort.
Most Likely: Myron Lewis (CB- Vanderbilt). The Texans approach to drafting in the secondary the past few years has been to pick a bunch of late round picks and see who sticks. Lewis has good size and is a smart kid, but lacks the speed you would like to see.
Best Case: Adam Ulatoski (OT- Texas). The Texans need to continue building depth on the offensive line. By the time the sixth round comes along, there aren't any players who don't have weaknesses, but Ulatoski has the work ethic and athleticism that perhaps Kubiak and Dennison can build him into a contributor.
Worst Case: Rico McCoy (WR- Tennessee). McCoy is another prospect who has been all over the projectoral map. He's a good linebacker prospect and the Texans could stand to upgrade at WLB, but he's already on the roster as Xavier Adibi, so this wouldn't exactly be an upgrade.
Most Likely: Marcus Easley (WR- Connecticut). Easley is a big, fast receiver who lacks a lot of experience. Translation, he's a good project that a team can spend a late round pick on.
Sixth Round (second pick from San Diego)
Best Case: Walter Thurmond (CB- Oregon). Thurmond was a great prospect before getting hurt in September. Rumors are that he's ahead of schedule in his rehab and he might be worth a risk of a late sixth round pick. If he can return to his pre injury form, he might just be the steal of this draft.
Worst Case: Chris Brown (RB- Oklahoma). The absolute last thing the Texans need on the roster is another Chris Brown. Name aside, Brown is not a physical player and is a weak blocker, and the Texans absolutely need their running backs to be able to protect the quarterback.
Most Likely: Aaron Pettrey (K- Ohio State). Nothing gets a fan base up like drafting a kicker. The Texans have never drafted a kicker before and have only ever employed one: Kris Brown. With Brown's struggles this year, however, look for that trend to end.
Best Case: Mike Kafka (QB- Northwestern). Kubiak sometimes likes to pick a late round quarterback whom he might be able to stash on the practice squad and groom for the future. Kafka had a 64.8 completion percentage, and as an alum, the idea of a Northwestern quarterback playing for the Texans makes me giddy. Come on, I'm trying to predict the seventh round of the draft in early February, let me have this one.
Worst Case: Brandon Banks (WR- Kansas State). Some might be intrigued by Banks and his absolute blazing speed, but at 5-7, he's pretty much going to be regulated as a return man in the NFL. He could remind some of Dante Hall, but after getting in trouble with the law in December, it's probably best just to stay away.
Most Likely: Phillip Dillard (ILB- Nebraska). At this point, the Texans are likely looking for someone with potential and who can play special teams. ILB is not a need, but Dillard is a smart and dedicated athlete who will put forth the effort the Kubiak and Smith look for in draft picks.