NFL Draft: Avoiding a Corner Early Would Be Disastrous for the Houston Texans

Jake LangenkampCorrespondent IIIApril 6, 2011

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10:  Kareem Jackson #25 of the Houston Texans avoids a tackle after intercepting a pass  by Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  The Giants defeated the Texans 34-10.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

There are common thoughts among Houston Texans fans regarding the team and the upcoming NFL Draft.  Some opinions have been repeated enough that they are now accepted as unquestionable facts. 

As someone who thinks it’s good to question conventional wisdom from time to time, I have begun a series of posts to analyze some of these opinions and tell you whether I believe they are so widely accepted because of merit, or just popularity.

Yesterday, I started with the widespread notion that Julio Jones will be the best player available to the Texans at 11.  Here is the trendy viewpoint that I will dissect today:

“The Texans should not draft a rookie corner back because the secondary does not need any more youth.  Rather, they should concentrate on signing free agents to bring a veteran presence to the secondary.”

This opinion stems directly from the experience of last year.  The Texans drafted Kareem Jackson from the University of Alabama, labeled him a “pro ready corner” and shoehorned him into the starting position covering opposing teams’ best wide receivers.

The result was horrendous.  Jackson was torched early and often, which made his confidence plummet, which in turn made him get beat more.  Eventually, the Texans had to end this cycle of woe by benching the first round pick.

To decide now that drafting a corner back the year after this debacle is shifting from one extreme of the spectrum to the other.  It is probably not smart for the long term implications on the Texans for a myriad of reasons.

First of all, to jump to this conclusion based solely on last year’s incident is putting way too much blame on Jackson himself.  While I don’t think he is, or will ever be, the true number one corner the front office touted him as, the Texans coaching staff put him in a position to fail last season.

Jackson’s first ever secondary coach and defensive coordinator were fired for good reason.  Jackson was not taught well from the beginning, poorly evaluated as ready to start, and then put into predictable defensive schemes with non-existent safety help.

While I think it is incredibly presumptuous to compare Jackson’s rookie year to the likes of Nnamdi Asomougha and Champ Bailey, as the Texans’ official site did, I don’t think the carnage Texans fans witnessed out of Jackson is indicative of what his career will be like.

Even if Jackson does not pan out and is headed to bust status, the opinion in question still doesn’t hold water.  The notion that signing a free agent to bring veteran presence will solve the secondary’s problems is short sighted.

If it is assumed that Jackson will not be good enough for a starting gig next season, the Texans have one corner that is of starter quality; Glover Quin.  Newly hired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has discussed moving Quin to free safety several times, which would leave the Texans with zero starting caliber corners.

If a starting safety was acquired through free agency or the draft, Quin’s skill set is better suited for the slot, which is why the talk of him at safety began in the first place.  If you acquire only one starting free agent corner but refuse to draft one, you are left with Jackson, re-signing Jason Allen, or Sherrick McManis as the second starter.

For conversation's sake, let’s say Phillips made the trio of unknown free agent, Quin and Jackson/Allen/McManis work for 2011.  Refusing to draft a quality corner this year is simply delaying the problem of the secondary rather than solving it.

It is neglect of the corner and safety positions that got the team in this predicament in the first place.  Instead of introducing quality youth to the position group over several years, the team was caught unprepared when Dunta Robinson proved to not be worth the sizable contract he was demanding.

My end point is that the options of signing a free agent corner and drafting one early do not have to be, nor should they be, considered exclusive of each other.  In fact, the Texans should likely exercise both courses of action if they do not want the position group to be a weakness.

Make no mistake; the Texans secondary will likely not be a good group next year.  You cannot fix the problems it has quickly.  Phillips will try to overcome this with better pass rush, all the while providing the secondary with better coaching.

I don’t think it is completely necessary to draft a corner in the first round.  To not draft one in the first three rounds, however, would mean subjecting fans to the same porous pass defense for not only next year but subsequent seasons as well.

What do you think though; do you buy the belief that drafting another corner early this year is a bad idea?  Let me know either in the comments or on twitter @JakeBRB.