The wait is almost over, football fans. The 2011 NFL draft is just a few days away.
More so than any draft in my recent memory, where players are going to be selected has not gotten any more clear as the day draws near.
It starts at the top with the Panthers. Some have them taking Cam Newton, while others think they will take a defensive player. If there's that much speculation just with the first pick, you know that the speculation is even more wild as you work your way down the first round.
The Texans are no exceptions. There are probably a dozen different players that the Texans could conceivably take.
Not only will I take my best stab at who they will take in the first round, I'll give you my thoughts on who the Texans will select in all seven rounds. Without further ado, my final Texans seven-round mock draft.
While I can certainly understand an argument that cornerback is the Texans' biggest need, I see getting defensive personnel in place for Wade Phillips' situational 3-4 defense as the biggest need for the franchise.
Barring the Texans moving up in the draft (which I can't see them doing), Aldon Smith will be the best fit on the board for what the Texans need.
Smith played both defensive end and linebacker at Missouri and did both admirably. At 6'4" and 263 pounds, Smith has the requisite size for playing defensive end. Having run the 40-yard dash as fast as 4.67 seconds, Smith also has the speed you like to see in someone playing outside linebacker.
Smith was only a redshirt sophomore last season, so whether it's real or imagined, there is some concern that Smith doesn't have enough experience playing at a high level. Smith also missed a few games last season with a leg injury, but he returned and played well in the second half of the year.
Smith is certainly not without his warts as a player, but he has played too well and too well fits what the Texans need for them to pass on him.
It's a bad draft for safeties, and there's no better evidence of that than the fact that the Texans might be able to get the best safety in the draft at their spot in the middle of the second round.
Moore is a Swiss Army knife of a player in the secondary. His primary position is listed as free safety, but he has the skills to also play both corner and strong safety.
Getting an upgrade like Moore at the safety position would be good, but the fact that Moore could possibly upgrade every position in the secondary is even better.
Moore has run the 40-yard dash as fast as 4.49 seconds. While that's not ideal speed for a cornerback, it's not bad either. Coupled with the Texans' struggles at corner last season, I'm guessing the Texans would be willing to give Moore a shot if they felt that's where he best fits in.
At six feet tall and 202 pounds, Moore also has the size to throw around some big hits on receivers coming over the middle.
For me personally, I don't agree with the general placement of Moore. I think he is a much better player than he is being given credit for. I'm guessing the Texans would be tickled pink to get Moore in this spot.
Carter would give the Texans much-needed depth at the linebacker position. There was a time when Carter was seen as a possible late first-round pick. An ACL injury has quieted that talk, but there is no evidence that there are any ill effects from the injury.
Carter runs a sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash and could use that speed to help out the secondary in pass coverage.
While Carter didn't put up huge pass rush numbers at UNC, he has the tools to be used in that way. He has the speed to get into the backfield quickly, and at 243 pounds, he can take on blockers as well.
Having started 33 games in his career, Carter has plenty of experience at a high level. Carter was also a Butkus Award finalist last season and second team All-ACC two seasons ago, so he is not without accolades.
There may be flashier players available at this spot, but few with the combination of pedigree, production and versatility that Carter offers.
With the pick of Powe, the Texans will hopefully be able to cross another defensive need off their seemingly endless list of needs.
Powe would give the Texans a space-eating nose tackle in their 3-4 defensive sets. The Texans almost surely have their eye on Baylor's Phil Taylor earlier in the draft, but Powe would give them a similar player farther down, allowing them to address other needs earlier.
The biggest need in a nose tackle is size and Powe has it. He stands 6'2" and weighs 335 pounds. Those are both nearly ideal numbers for a nose tackle.
Powe had his struggles early in his college career. A part of Ole Miss' recruiting class in 2005, Powe had to spend the 2006 season at Hargrave Military Academy to improve his grades. He came to Ole Miss and was on campus in 2007, but again was not able to play.
While he won't be graded on schoolwork in the NFL, no team wants a player who has a history of struggling in a classroom setting. There will still be plenty of time spent in a classroom in NFL training camp. Hopefully his being eligible his last three seasons at Ole Miss is a sign that those struggles are behind him.
The selection of Powe would fill a big need (literally and figuratively) for the Texans and in tandem with the earlier selections, would go a long way toward giving Wade Phillips the personnel he needs to be successful running more 3-4 sets with the Texans.
Taking a running back at any point in this draft seems ridiculous considering the way the Texans ran the ball last season. In fact, Texans running back Arian Foster led the league in rushing last year.
To stand pat on past success would be a mistake, though. There is no reason to believe that Foster's production will curtail or he will run into injury troubles, but those types of things are a reality in the NFL.
In a worst case scenario, Carter gives the Texans insurance should an injury occur. Injuries among running backs are all too common to be without a backup you trust.
Even if Carter isn't forced into use thanks to an injury, he will give the Texans a nice change of pace back to compliment Foster.
Last season, Derrick Ward provided solid backup work, but ultimately, I'd like to see the Texans have someone who is more of a change of pace from Foster.
At 5'9, Carter is a back who is tough to find and bring in down in the backfield. At 222 pounds, he also doesn't come with the fear of wearing down with the rigors of the NFL, a fear generally voiced about running backs that small. Having run the 40 yard dash as fast as 4.45 seconds, Carter brings a speed element that Foster just can't give you.
This late in the draft, I'm guessing the Texans would jump at the chance to grab a highly successful running back that could spell Foster and serve as a change of pace running back.
This late in the draft, a team should look for players that fit one of a couple profiles. One profile is a player that wasn't all that successful in college that has elite skills.
The other profile is that of a highly productive player at a very successful school that may be getting overlooked because he lacks one thing or another that scouts want to see. This is the profile that Carmichael fits.
In his case, he is a little smaller than teams would want at just 5'10" and 192 pounds. Other than that, though, Carmichael has the look of someone who could be a difference-maker in the secondary.
He runs a 4.4 second 40 yard dash, giving him the speed to run step for step with just about any receiver in the league and his top vertical leap of 33.5 inches will give him a chance in many jump ball situations.
In his two seasons as a starter, Carmichael tallied over 100 tackles and had ten interceptions for a Virginia Tech team that won a ton of games.
Carmichael is the type of player that I could see coming into training camp with little fanfare and ending up playing a huge role in a great area of need for the team.
Much like the pick of Carter, taking a wide receiver like Robinson will raise some eyebrows with guys like Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter already on the roster.
There's little risk taking someone this late and the fact of the matter is that some uncertainty is creeping into the Texans receiving corps.
Johnson battled injuries for much of last season and he also isn't getting any younger. David Anderson is a scrappy player, but he lacks the skills to be more than a fourth or fifth receiver. Kevin Walter is a solid second option, but if Johnson goes down with another injury, you likely can't trust Walter to replace the production on his own.
The bigger issue, though, is that the team's biggest speed receiver has an uncertain status with the team. That receiver is Jacoby Jones. His contract is up, and if the team is inclined to let Jones go and not sign him, Robinson could provide a younger, cheaper replacement.
Robinson runs the 40 yard dash in 4.3 seconds and has a 40 inch vertical leap. Those numbers guarantee that Robinson will almost assuredly be the best athlete on the field just about every time he is on it.
Having played in a very non-traditional offense at SMU, there will be the obvious concerns about his ability to play in a much more conservative NFL offense. That being said, I'm not going to bet against anyone that put up over 3,000 receiving yards in his career and can run like a deer.
The Texans have the last pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, more commonly known as Mr. Irrelevant.
In terms of the football hierarchy, the punter is about as irrelevant as it gets to most. That's just not true when you have a good one, though.
A four year punter for the highly successful Florida Gators program, Henry has shown how important a good punter is to a great team.
The Texans current punter, Matt Turk, is 43 years old and his contract is also up. With the possible lockout, Turk might be inclined to hang it up rather than deal with a possible work stoppage. Even if Turk does return, it won't be much longer before the Texans are looking for a new punter. Henry would be a nice guy to have to groom behind Turk in that case.