2011 NFL Mock Draft: What If the Houston Texans Did Not Value Character
The Houston Texans follow many draft philosophies or patterns. For instance, the Texans haven’t drafted a safety prior to round five during Rick Smith’s tenure as general manager. Additionally, the Texans have drafted a defensive player in the first round every season except one since Gary Kubiak took over in 2006.
A lot of those patterns could change this draft for the Texans. Kubiak and Smith have put the draft largely in newly hired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ hands so he can work a miracle in his first season as he has done several times before.
One thing is guaranteed to stay the same though. As long as Bob McNair owns the Texans, they will not draft players with character concerns, otherwise known as off-the-field issues.
McNair has made it a priority to collect athletes that the city of Houston can be proud of. For this reason, it has widely been understood by Texans fans that you might as well quit dreaming of players that have loads of talent but showed an inability to stay out of even the most minor of infractions in college.
The only exception to this rule is Brian Cushing, who was taken by the Texans despite rampant rumors of performance enhancing drug use. It should be noted, however, that Cushing had a stellar reputation besides the PED rumors, so maybe Mr. McNair’s character concerns do not extend to steroids.
What if for one season though, it was different? What if this year Mr. McNair wanted to win so bad, that he threw his hang-ups about character out of the window?
This would never happen, but in the hypothetical situation that suddenly left Mr. McNair seeking the talent in the worst places, this is what I think the seven rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft might look like for the Houston Texans.
For this exercise, I selected players that fit immediate needs for the Texans in the last round that they could be picked before they were scooped up by teams with less concerns over character. These players range from serious off the field issues, to minor infractions that may not take them out of consideration.
*Author's Note: These are not necessarily players that I would like to see drafted by the Texans. Some are, but some I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. This was simply an exercise in the hypothetical to highlight players that are probably NOT on the Texans draft board. Thanks.
Have a different opinion? Let me know either in the comments or on twitter (@JakeBRB).
Round 1: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
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What’s that you say, 11 is way too early for anyone to select Smith? Make no mistake, if teams didn’t have such serious concerns about Smith’s ability to remain out of trouble, he would be the second corner selected in this draft.
Smith is likely the best press corner out of this year’s crop at his position. He also has the size and speed to match up on his own against opposing teams’ best receivers. Smith could be elite at the next level if he accepted coaching, although that is one concern that front office personnel have about him.
Smith has reportedly failed several drug test, has a brash and cocky attitude with the media that can be seen by comparing himself to Nnamdi Asomugha, and has even had issues with violence against women. I doubt Smith is even on the Texans board, but if he managed to clean himself up at the next level, he could be great.
Round 2: Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Pittsburgh
Sheard by many accounts does not belong on a character red flag list. He was a captain of the defense. He even received an award for helping an elderly woman escape a fire.Then he got into a fight in which he threw a man through a glass window. After police arrived on the scene and ordered Sheard to stop hitting the man, he continued.
Sheard is quietly rising on many teams’ draft boards according to several draft analysts, most notably Wes Bunting who is a big fan of the Pittsburgh standout as a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. His length and natural pass rushing ability would be a great fit for Phillips’ defense.
Scouts must ask which Sheard is the one that they will get in the NFL. The one that rescues citizens from fires, or that throws people through plate glass. That fight is such an ugly incident that Mr. McNair might insist on passing on Sheard, which would be a shame in my opinion.
Round 3: Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
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Nose tackles are not a dime a dozen, especially ones that can anchor a 3-4 defense in the NFL. The Texans can try and comfort fans or themselves by repeating that Earl Mitchell and Shaun Cody will suffice, but that simply isn’t true.
Ellis is regarded as the second best nose tackle prospect in the draft after Baylor’s Phil Taylor, another character concern. Ellis started his career at South Carolina, but he was suspended and then eventually kicked off the team for violating teams rules, which supposedly was failing several drug tests.
As opposed to other prospects like the aforementioned Taylor who try hard to reshape their image at their second school, Ellis was again suspended at Hampton for one game. His performance while actually playing cannot be questioned, and he could be great if drafted by a team with a strong locker room.
Round 4: Edmund Gates,WR, Abilene Christian
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The Texans need a quality receiver opposite of Andre Johnson, and Gates would be perfect there if it wasn’t for off-the-field issues. Gates has the playing speed to threaten teams deep, but his run after the catch ability would make him ideal for the West Coast offense.
Gates had an unorthodox route to the NFL. He started off wanting to play basketball in the NBA, but was kicked off his collegiate team at Tyler Junior College and eventually left the school. Some reports state that he was actually dismissed, although the reasons cannot be ascertained.
That in itself may not seem terrible, but Gates has less than ideal influences in his life. His father spent 18 years in prison for murder, and his cousin is Bengals running back Bernard Scott who had notable red flags coming out of college. These are not necessarily Gates’ fault, but teams often judge associations of players before handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Round 5: Deunta Williams, S, North Carolina
Williams is admittedly the weakest example of character concerns on my list, but this draft is actually surprising knuckle-head light. Williams was caught up in the agent pay scandal that rocked North Carolina in 2010.
As opposed to teammates Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Greg Little, Williams was not suspended for the entire season, rather he just missed four games. This was due to less involvement which Williams claims was just someone paying for a hotel room with a credit card, a debt he immediately paid cash for.
Williams could be the ball hawk safety that the Texans have always lacked. He is a hybrid safety that NFL teams prefer so much these days as he can play both strong and free safety. If Williams can distance himself from the North Carolina scandal, he very likely could be selected long before the fifth round.
Round 6: Stanley Havili, FB,Southern California
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Vonta Leach is a free agent, and the Texans have reportedly not made any attempts to sign the first time Pro Bowler. They may be looking to get younger at the full back position.
Havili is not the traditional bruising full back that Leach is, but he could be extremely effective as a receiver out of the backfield, something that wasn’t Leach’s forte. Havili does have raw skills as a blocker though, and could be molded into quite a threat in a backfield with Arian Foster.
Havili may not get the opportunity to play for the Texans, however, because not only was he ruled academically ineligible in 2008, but more seriously he broke the jaw of a teammate in a fight at practice. Not exactly what the Texans look for in the intangibles department.
Round 7: Will Hill, FS, Florida
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Hill entered Florida with tons of NFL promise in his future. Hill has the ideal size and athletic ability to play safety in the NFL, and as was stated before, the Texans are remarkably light at the position without both starters from last season.
Hill has been widely rumored to not have the intellect to pick up NFL schemes necessary for free safeties. This is highlighted by the repeated exploitation of his aggressiveness in play action. Apparently he did not take well to coaching to try and rectify the problem.
Hill was suspended for the first two games of 2010 for undisclosed violations of team rules, but considering Florida’s track record for lack of discipline, it must have been serious. Also, despite being 21, Hill has three children and cited them as the reason for entering the draft early.