Houston Texans 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistApril 26, 2012

Houston Texans 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

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    The Houston Texans Draft Tracker will keep you up to date on all of the Texans' picks this weekend.

    Check back regularly for scouting reports, analysis and grades for every player Houston takes.

    The Texans passed on the wideouts and decided to replace Mario Williams with Whitney Mercilus.

    The Texans traded back out of the second round and picked up a third and fourth.

    The Texans had one of the best drafts in the league. Check out everyone they took.

Overview of the Texans' Draft

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    The Texans have eight picks in the 2012 NFL draft.

    2011 Record: 10-6

    Team Needs: Offensive Tackle, Linebacker, Safety, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Popular Targets: Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill, Coby Fleener


    1 (26): Whitney Mercilus, DE (OLB), Illinois

    3 (68): DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State

    3 (76): Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (OH)

    4 (99): Ben Jones, C, UGA

    4 (121): Keshawn Martin WR, Michigan State

    4 (126): Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska

    5 (161): Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M

    6 (195): Nick Mondek, T, Purdue

Round 1, Pick 26: Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End (OLB), Illinois

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    The Texans went back to the defensive side of the ball by taking Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus. They passed on some of the notable receivers available, and went after one of the best pure pass-rushers in the draft.

    Scouting Report

    Charlie Campbell likened him to Jason Pierre-Paul, saying:

    Mercilus has a very impressive repertoire of pass rushing moves. He attacks with speed around the edge. As a counter to the speed, he has the strength to execute rip moves and shed offensive linemen. Mercilus has the raw power to get under offensive linemen's pads and bull rush into the pocket. That catches linemen by surprise as they are so cognizant of being ready for his speed rush. Beyond his great physical skill set, Mercilus is an advanced pass-rusher technically.

    Mercilus holds up well in run defense. Linemen don't push him around, as he is strong at the point of attack. He also will burst into the backfield to disrupt running plays


    The Texans did what they always do. They drafted defense in the first round. Mercilus is a good player, and a value pick for the Texans. He helps offset the loss of Mario Williams and provides them with more push up front. Stopping the pass is just about as important as passing the ball, so there's really nothing to question here. Mercilus will be a linebacker for the Texans and will seek to add depth and breadth to one of the best defenses in the AFC.

    Grade: A-

    This pick reminds me of Mad Men. It's technically brilliant. A lot of people love it, and I easily recognize the quality. There's really nothing to criticize, but all the same, I just don't love it. The Texans could totally wind up with someone like Sanu in the second round, but I can't help feeling like not investing an early round pick in a wideout at some point is going to come back to bite them.

    Still, the Texans saw their divisional foes all go for passing offense, so they countered with a pass-rusher. It's impossible to argue with the logic.

Round 3, Pick 68: DeVier Posey, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

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    The Texans passed on a receiver in the first round, but got their man in the second. DeVier Posey didn't play much in 2012 due to a suspension, but is definitely a talented player.

    Scouting Report

    Ryan McCrystal, Draft Ace

    Posey was a forgotten prospect for much of the 2011 regular season, and was expected to take a significant step backwards due to his time missed. However, his strong performance down the stretch was impressive, and should put him back in the 2nd or 3rd round discussion for most teams. He lacks elite size or speed, which definitely limits his upside, but he has all the skills necessary to be an effective starter in the NFL.


    By selecting Posey, the Texans have rendered Jacoby Jones extraneous. He was never more than 'just a guy'. The question is whether Posey can ever be any more than that. If nothing else, he's a younger, cheaper version of Jones who might carry some trade value. If Posey can take a jump forward after his 'hiatus', he could wind up being a valuable third receiver. That's about what you get from a third round pick.

    Grade: B+

    Posey is a an interesting player and fills a huge need for the Texans. Jones was extremely unpopular with fans thanks to his inconsistent play. At worst, the Texans have a new Jones.  At best, they have a hidden gem who got lost in the shuffle thanks to the Ohio State scandal. It's a good pick at the right time for the Texans.

Round 3, Pick 76: Brandon Brooks, Guard, Miami (OH)

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    The Texans took a step toward plugging holes on the offensive line by taking a massive guard in Brandon Brooks.

    Scouting Report

    Ryan McCrystal, Draft Ace

    Brooks certainly has the raw physical tools to the play at the next level, but there are definitely some things to be concerned about. It always raises a red flag when a player who possesses the physical tools to dominate at a lower level of competition seems to play down to the level of his opponents. When a player struggles to keep his weight under control and play at a consistent level in college, it is often tough to motivate that player once he’s collecting an NFL paycheck.


    Brooks is a bit of an enigma. It's almost as if he should be better than he is. This is what you get for a mid-third round pick, though. At best, he's a diamond in the rough that meets a need. Of course, if he couldn't dominate the MAC, you wonder how he'll be anything in the NFL.

    Grade: B

    He fills a need, and wasn't a reach. In the third round, that's what you want. The Texans picked up a quality backup/project in Brooks. Maybe with the right coaching and system he'll become something special. More probably, they'll get a year of a starting guard at some point down the road.

Round 4, Pick 99: Ben Jones, Center, Georgia

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    Houston went back to the offensive line by taking a center early in round four. Ben Jones is a solid interior lineman who should eventually see the field for the Texans.

    Scouting Report

    Ricky Dimon, FF Toolbox

    Jones is one of the most experienced players in college football. He started 10 games at center as a freshman, started 12 of 13 games as a sophomore, and has started every game ever since. The Centreville, AL native has good size at 6'3'' and 316 pounds. He generally runs in the 5.2s in the 40-yard dash and he has been clocked as fast as 5.14 from that distance.


    There's nothing to over-think here. This is the point in the draft to take quality linemen. Jones will make the team and find a way to be productive. This is a good, solid pick.

    Grade: B+

    Jones is a perfect fit for the Texans line. He's smart, plays hard, and should have a natural fit in the Texans line. Houston has used two picks in a row on the interior of the line, and building good depth and future starters.

Round 4, Pick 121: Keshawn Martin, Wide Receiver, Michigan State

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    The Texans snagged a mid-round wideout in the fourth round in Keshawn Martin out of Michigan State.

    Scouting Report

    Sideline Scouting

    Adjusts well to the ball in the air... Terrific vertical leap, recorded a 39.5" vertical at the combine... Good boundary receiver, makes tough plays near the sideline... Good runner after the catch; elusive, and has been used on reverses and end arounds... A good slot receiver candidate and has added value at the next level as a return specialist


    Jacoby Jones cannot get his bags packed fast enough. The Texans have added interesting wideouts with two of their last three picks. I would like to have seen the Texans take a tight end with one of those picks. the problem with the Texans' existing wideouts was that they were 'just guys'. The third and fourth round is where you draft more 'just guys'.

    Grade C+

    I liked Nick Toon better, but Martin gives the Texans some slot ability and special teams ability. Again, the thought process is sound, and the question is if this was the best available player. I'm not sure he was.

Round 4, Pick 126: Jared Crick, Defensive End, Nebraska

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    With the last of their fourth round picks, the Houston Texans took Jared Crick, a defensive end from Nebraska.

    Scouting Report

    Ryan McCrystal, Draft Ace

    Crick is a really tough prospect to grade because each team will view him differently. I would not be shocked if some 4-3 teams viewed him as a Day 3 pick due to his struggles at the point of attack, but some 3-4 teams may view him as a fringe 1st-rounder. As a result, his success at the next level will be contingent on landing in an organization that is willing to work to design a role for him which fits his best attributes. Even if he is only part of a rotation at the next level, his effort and work ethic should allow him to develop into a solid contributor.


    What's to analyze? The Texans love their defense, and they are feeding Wade Phillips a steady diet of pass-rushers. Anytime you land a talented, hard-working end in the fourth round, you've had a great day. This will be the best third-day pick in the division.

    Grade: A

    I adore this pick. Crick can play that tough to fill 3-4 defensive end spot. He could have gone rounds earlier. I think he plays some in 2012, and finds a way to be productive.

Round 5, Pick 161: Randy Bullock, Kicker, Texas A & M

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    With Neil Rackers gone, the Texans were expected to take a kicker, and they did. They landed one with the selection of Randy Bullock of Texas A & M.

    Scouting Report

    Charlie Campbell, Walter Football

    Bullock was the AP's All-American First-Team selection at kicker after being one of the most accurate kickers in college football in 2011. He made 29-of-33 field goal attempts. On extra points, Bullock was 55-of-57. He was 16-of-21 in 2010 and was good on all 50 extra point attempts. Bullock made all 51 of his extra point attempts in 2009 and was 12-of-19 on field goal attempts. His career long field goal was from 50 yards entering the 2011 season.


    They needed a kicker, they got a kicker. There's not much to say.

    Grade: B

    Bullock ranked anywhere from first to seventh in kicker rankings. He had a visit with the Texans, predraft. They got the guy they liked for a fifth round pick. If he hits big kicks, this will work out. Field goal kickers are hard to predict. Bullock is as good a pick as anyone.

Round 6, Pick 195: Nick Mondek, Tackle, Purdue

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    The Texans' draft wraps up with a tackle. Nick Mondek of Purdue is the newest Texan.

    Scouting Report

    Pro-Football Weekly

    Big-framed, well-proportioned, converted defensive tackle and terrific foot athlete — ran the 40-yard dash in the high 4.8s at 300 pounds, including an unheard of 1.59-second 10-yard split, and recorded elite times in the short shuttle (4.55 seconds) and 3-cone drill (7.3 seconds). Has good feet and stature to position, lean and seal. Explosive pulling and leading through the hole. Is relatively raw — has only two seasons at guard under his belt and is not instinctive or anticipatory. Power and violence elements are lacking and he needs to get stronger in order to improve his ability to sustain and finish. Will require patience, but is draftable late based on size and workout numbers and has clear developmental value


    Tackle was a big need for the Texans, and while Mondek doesn't solve that need this year, he could down the road. Mondek has a lot to learn about line play, but he makes for an interesting project, if he can make the team.

    Grade: C-

    I always worry about need picks of players who aren't actually read to play. Mondek might be a star in the making down the road, but I don't see how he helps them right now. This is the kind of pick that ends up not making the team after a year or two. I don't see it.

Final 2012 NFL Draft Grades

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    1 (26): Whitney Mercilus, DE (OLB), Illinois A-

    3 (68): DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State B+

    3 (76): Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (OH) B

    4 (99): Ben Jones, C, UGA B+

    4 (121): Keshawn Martin WR, Michigan State C+

    4 (126): Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska A

    5 (161): Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M B

    6 (195): Nick Mondek, T, Purdue C-


    Houston didn't get the most talent in the draft (that was Indianapolis), but they made the most of every pick. They had the best value pick of the second day in Crick, and generally got deeper and better with every pick they made.

    I love the philosophy behind their draft, and can't fault anything they did.