Every year, I do several Houston Texans specific mock drafts. Even though they are dismissed by many as irrelevant and a waste of time, they are fun and they serve their purpose. I personally like to do them because it makes me study all seven rounds in order to determine who might be available that would fill a need for the team.
My first article after being brought on by Bleacher Report was a 7 Round Mock Draft. Since then, I have completed one more serious mock, and another one that was not necessarily who I desired to be selected by Rick Smith, but rather a hypothetical discussion of who had little to no shot of being selected because of character issues.
These achieved their desired results by making me more informed and familiar with this year’s draft, and I was lucky enough to put that knowledge to the test in an interactive mock draft on Twitter hosted by the National Football Post. Many of you who already follow me (@JakeBRB) are already aware of this.
The benefit of participating in this mock for me was immense. When doing mock drafts by yourself, you have a tendency to let players slip by other teams in an exercise of wishful thinking, or sometimes have the players going off the board unrealistically early in an effort to offset the previously mentioned practice.
An interactive mock gives you a much more realistic look at who will be picked when. While not NFL front office personnel, the participants were all fans of the franchises they represented and therefore knew of the needs and drafting habits of their respective teams.
As all seven rounds are in the books (mostly), I decided to chronicle the first two rounds of the mock from the Texans perspective. The reason being that I learned a valuable lesson about this draft class as it relates to the needs of the Texans that I feel will be applicable next weekend. I will explain after I catalog my selections.
The first 10 picks went as such:
1. Carolina – Cam Newton/QB/Auburn
2. Denver – Marcell Dareus/DT/Alabama
3. Buffalo – Von Miller/OLB/Texas A&M
4. Cincinnati – Blaine Gabbert/QB/Missouri
6. Cleveland – AJ Green/WR/Georgia
7. San Francisco – Robert Quinn/OLB/North Carolina
8. Tenessee – Nick Fairley/DT/Auburn
9. Dallas – Da’Quan Bowers/DE/Clemson
10. St. Louis (From Washington) – Julio Jones/WR/Alabama
I found this to be a pretty accurate depiction of how the top 10 picks would go. I don’t think that Detroit would trade up that far, but Peterson is likely to go in that spot regardless. Also, if Dallas was to select a defensive end at nine, it would probably be JJ Watt or Cam Jordan.
It does not matter because I elected to trade down, and I would have done so unless Quinn had fallen to 11 (I considered it a foregone conclusion that Peterson, Miller and Dareus would be long gone). Luckily, I found a willing partner in New England, a team which I believe might trade up in real life this season.
In return for this trade, I received an extra second round pick (60) and moved down to New England’s first of two first round picks (17). I wasn’t done yet though, as I brokered a deal to trade picks (17) and (73) for (23) and (54). Essentially, I was able to move the Texans’ third-round pick up to the late second.
After all of this wheeling and dealing, I was ready to make my selection. I had targeted Phil Taylor since I accepted the first trade down, and I was very nervous when Kansas City was picking because I thought it very likely they would nab him. They didn’t though, and I got my guy.
Round One (23): Phil Taylor/DT/Baylor
Taylor would give the Texans the nose tackle that has been missing from the interior of the defensive line, but has never been more needed than now as they are in the process of re-aligning to a 3-4 defense. 11 is likely too early for the unanimously best prospect at the position, but 23 is just right in my opinion.
Taylor has minor character skeletons in his closet, and has battled weight and laziness issues in the past. His senior season, however, Taylor was a model teammate and his performance on the field was noteworthy. This carried over to the Senior Bowl where Taylor dominated interior offensive linemen in practice.
Is Taylor going to be the impact player right away that other players available and considered at 11 would such as Cameron Jordan or Prince Amukamara? Maybe not, but as I would find out, the second round this year is loaded with talent, and having three picks would be huge.
Round Two (42): Aaron Williams/CB–FS/Texas
As I came on the clock for this pick, both Williams and Rahim Moore, the unanimous best true free safety prospect in the draft, were available. It was a tough decision, but in the end, I decided in favor of Williams for a couple different reasons.
Williams has widely been rumored to be drafted as a safety because of his larger size and slower speed. If he stays at corner, he will likely be relegated to the slot role, although it should be noted that this position is vital in the NFL today. If converted to safety, he would certainly be a better run supporter than Moore.
With adding Williams to a secondary with Glover Quin, the Texans would now have two players that could play either in the slot or make the conversion to free safety. They could have the luxury of deciding which one was better suited for safety in training camp, and leave the other at corner.
Round Two (54): Jerrel Jernigan/WR/Troy
If you regularly read any of my writing here, you know how big of a fan I am of Jernigan. The diminutive 5’9”, 190 lb. receiver is discounted as just a speedy deep threat, but his run after the catch ability is perfect for Gary Kubiak’s version of the West Coast offense.
This might be a little too early to be picking players for the offense in the opinion of some Texans fans, but Jernigan immediately solves a huge need of providing a deep threat opposite of Andre Johnson. Jernigan would be a huge weapon matched with the creativity of Kubiak.
As for when I decided to take him, there have been several reports linking the Falcons to the product of Troy, and they were selecting right before my next second-round pick. I decided to pull the trigger because I think there is a huge talent drop off at the position after Jernigan in terms of what the Texans are looking for.
Round Two (60): Martez Wilson/OLB/Illinois
I couldn’t believe my luck that Wilson fell this far. This may seem a tad unrealistic, but many draft analysts believe that Wilson could experience a fall such as this despite his off the charts athleticism due to poor instincts and the need to convert him from an inside linebacker to an outside rush specialist in a 3-4.
I don’t buy this logic at all. Wilson led the Big Ten conference in stops resulting in two yard gains or less. That means that opposing teams were stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage by Wilson more than JJ Watt, Greg Jones, Adrian Clayborn, Ryan Kerrigan and Cameron Heyward.
I was fully prepared to select North Carolina’s Bruce Carter or Nevada’s Dontay Moch, but was lucky to end up with Wilson. Wilson was a target of the Texans at the Combine, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the impressive linebacker get taken as Wade Phillips newest edge rusher.
This mock emphasized to me just how much talent is in rounds two and three of this year’s draft. In a not far-fetched manner, I was able to add four starters at positions of immediate needs in the first three rounds. Additionally, in this scenario it would not be unfeasible to trade back into the third round in order to target yet another impact player.
While I believe that Wade Phillips simply being in the building negates a great deal of the defensive horridness that was magnified by terrible coaching last year, this team needs an infusion of talent. With so many questions that haven’t been answered about free agency, the more talent that can be acquired during the draft, the better.
The Texans will no doubt have a few very good players available at 11, maybe even a great one or two. I believe though, that unless Wade Phillips and Rick Smith feel like there is an elite player available, the best possible option is to trade down and possible acquire more draft picks.
What’s your take though? Do you agree with the draft philosophy I displayed in this mock draft, or would you have done things differently. Let me know in the comments below.