Houston Texans Undrafted Free Agents: Need-to-Know Info for Every Signee
The Houston Texans had about a dozen needs going into this year's draft. They filled many of them but several needs remain heading into the undrafted free-agent signing period.
A pattern surfaced with the Texans' strategy over the first two days of the draft with how they want to build up the roster. All four of the Texans' draft picks during the first three rounds were physical players, who will make their impact around the line of scrimmage. I expect three of those four players to make an impact very early but needs remain at the more glamorous positions like wide receiver and cornerback.
With the selections of Jadeveon Clowney and Louis Nix, the Texans could have the best defensive front seven in the entire league. If those guys hit their potential while teamed up with Brian Cushing and J.J. Watt, the Texans defense will be scary good.
Those two picks along with the selection of offensive guard Xavier Su'a Filo were very good in my opinion, but the absence of a quarterback during the first two days was very surprising. Some will say that since the Texans failed to come away with an impact player at their No. 1 need, that their draft was a failure. I don't agree with that opinion. I also don't believe Tom Savage will be an impact player at quarterback.
The Texans continued to add more physical players during day three, who could make an impact near the line of scrimmage with fullback Jay Prosch from Auburn and defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan of Alabama.
If Teddy Bridgewater had made it to pick No. 33 or if Jimmy Garoppolo had slipped into the third round, the Texans would have been wise to select them. However, neither quarterback would have led the Texans to the playoffs this year and the team had other huge needs, so I don't fault them for staying true to their board and not reaching for a quarterback ahead of their value.
Overall a very solid draft but their work is far from over with several big needs remaining:
The Texans didn't add a single player at the position during the draft. They lost two players at inside linebacker during free agency and have Brian Cushing coming off a season ending knee injury for the second straight season. I hoped they would target either Shayne Skov from Stanford or Christian Jones from Florida State during the draft, who both went undrafted.
Andre Hal was added during the seventh round, but I wish they had added more. The Texans didn't draft a single corner last year and cut their slot corner Brice McCain in March so they at least need to add some depth. I hoped they would target either Terrance Mitchell, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round or E.J. Gaines, who was selected by the Rams in the sixth round.
The Texans didn't add a single slot receiver during the draft. Coach O'Brien said during the offseason that the position was very important to this offense. Keshawn Martin—who they drafted two years ago—isn't the answer at the position.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Chris Boswell, K Rice
The Houston Texans signed a local product with Chris Boswell, a kicker from Rice.
Texans have signed Rice K Chris Boswell.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 11, 2014
The scouts from CBS Sports describe Chris Boswell as having a powerful NFL caliber leg.
Strong leg with NFL long distance range. Displays proper technique and body fluidity to plant and drive his lower body. Booming leg strength on kickoffs as well with 54 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs. Creative with onside kick attempts with the foot quickness to deceive return teams. Accurate leg on kicks under 40 yards. Has shown clutch ability late in games.
The struggles of Texans kicker Randy Bullock are well documented. Bullock missed the entire 2012 season with an injury and missed nine field goals last season; many of those coming in close/late game situations.
Chris Boswell is just a camp leg at this point but I wouldn't be surprised if he challenges Randy Bullock for his job.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Chris Martin, OT Central Florida
The Texans have signed undrafted free agent Chris Martin, an offensive tackle from Central Florida.
#Texans sign Chris Martin OT from Central Florida.— PDS (@PatDStat) May 10, 2014
Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com describes the 6'5" 305-pound UCF tackle as a strong player with bad technique.
Good overall mass and weight-room strength. Flashes some straight-line power and nastiness to finish blocks. Has enough strength to hold the point of attack.
A big-bodied, grabber lacking the length and agility ideally suited to handle the edges and the core strength desired on the inside. Has a chance when he plays square and has an angle, but athletic limitations could always be restricting.
The Texans needed to add a player during the draft to compete for the right tackle job. As bad as Derek Newton is, Chris Martin won't be the guy to take his job in my opinion.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Anthony McClung, WR Cincinnati
Cincinnati WR Anthony McClung to the #Texans.— PDS (@PatDStat) May 11, 2014
Anthony McClung has agreed to a free agent deal with the @HoustonTexans— Bearcats Football (@Bearcats_FB) May 11, 2014
The 6'1" McClung caught 72 passes last year for 939 yards and five touchdowns for the Bearcats.
Derek Stephens from The Sports Xchange (h/t CBS Sports) describes the strengths and weaknesses in McClung's game.
At 6-1, McClung possesses ideal length and range for the position and displays strong coordination and soft hands when asked to secure the ball off his frame. Despite appearing a bit high-waisted, McClung exhibits impressive shiftiness and stop-start ability in traffic and can really accelerate in the open field after the catch. He plays light, is often easy to knock off course in press and has really been at his best when he's able to separate across the field from the slot when given a few steps of space to work with off the snap. Thus, adding some muscle and turning up the level of physicality will be a must if he wants to project as a consistent outside target at the next level.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Max Bullough, ILB Michigan State
The Houston Texans passed on inside linebacker during the draft, which I thought was one of their biggest needs. According to reports the team has signed inside linebacker Max Bullough from Michigan State.
Like many others I was surprised to see Bullough go undrafted; he was a player I hoped the Texans would target in the sixth round if he made it that far.
Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com likes his football intelligence, his tackling skill and his physicality. Nawrocki had him rated as a possible fourth-round pick.
Terrific football intelligence. Keys and diagnoses quickly, understands run fits and spills willingly. Physical -- good take-on/tackle strengh between the tackles. Pursues hard. Good tackler when he's able to square up ball carriers. Two-year captain with outstanding football character. Leads vocally and by example. Football is in his blood and approaches the game accordingly. His 30 bench-press reps were tied for most among linebackers at the combine.
Of course, as a guy who went undrafted, he has many flaws as Nawrocki points out.
Average athlete. Not explosive. Tight hips (exposed in space). Limited foot speed, lateral agility and range. Can be late to the perimeter. Struggles in man coverage and is stiff dropping/turning in coverage.
I don't want to get too excited about an undrafted free agent, but I really think signing Max Bullough was a great move. The downside on him is that he's not very strong in coverage so he'll likely be a two-down player and come off the field when teams go into their nickel or dime package.
However, I think Bullough has enough skill to make an impact in run defense. Bullough was a two-time team captain and is a guy who people describe as having good football character and makeup.
With Joe Mays and Darryl Sharpton gone from last season, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bullough get a good amount of playing time next to Brian Cushing next season.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Kevin Forsch, OG Houston
The Houston Texans picked up another offensive lineman with local product Kevin Forsch from the University of Houston.
Congrats to Kevin Forsch!! Already a member of the Bauer College of Business MBA program, Kevin is now also a member of the Houston Texans!!— Tony Levine (@CoachTonyLevine) May 11, 2014
Derek Stephens of CBS Sports/Sports Xchange with a breakdown on the strengths and weaknesses of Kevin Forsch.
While he lacks the wide, thick frame that you typically look for in an NFL guard, he does a good job of utilizing light feet and lower-half bend to absorb impact and reset rapidly when bull-rushed, and exhibits consistent extension and punch to keep defenders at arm's length. When asked to pull or trap, he gets off the snap quickly and targets decisively, though he struggles to stop and square up, often electing to extend a forearm or lower his shoulder to "check" or brush his target instead. He also doubles over at the waste at times when anticipating contact at the second level, and can be tossed aside or will end up whiffing altogether. Forsch is a tough, durable and versatile lineman with good awareness and natural instincts, but he may not be a legitimate guard prospect at the next level without bulking up a bit.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Chris McAllister, DE Baylor
The Houston Texans signed native Texan and former Baylor Bear Chris McAllister. The 6'3'' and 255 pound defensive end made the All-Big 12 first team last season and was the defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl in 2012.
The #Texans have signed DE Chris McAllister from Baylor.— PDS (@PatDStat) May 10, 2014
Chris McAllister, DE, Baylor to Houston— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 11, 2014
Baylor post-draft pickups: Jordan Najvar, Glasco Martin to Cowboys; Chris McAllister to Texans and Kelvin Palmer to Cardinals— Sean Giggy (@sgiggy_kwtx) May 11, 2014
McAllister had 11.5 sacks last season for the Bears and 25 sacks total over his four years playing for Baylor.
Eric Galko of OptimumScouting.com likes McAllister's physical play and thinks his best fit at the NFL level will be as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
This defensive end won’t wow with speed rush ability or an array of moves, but what he will do is play physical, assignment sound football. Setting the edge with powerful and active hands, McAllister takes pride in feeling out down blocks, locating run flow and pursuing at full speed. He’s far more athletic than credited, can work laterally to protect the sideline and even flashes the ability to implement strong, rip/dip moves off the edge to cross face of opposing tackles. McAllister has the long arms, stout frame, more than enough range and violent hands that should translate very well to a 3-4 outside linebacker position.
The Texans could use depth at outside linebacker so McAllister may find himself on the practice squad. Only chance to make the regular roster will be to excel on special teams during training camp and preseason.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Terrance Lloyd, OLB Baylor
The Houston Texans signed another Baylor Bear and Houston native with outside linebacker Terrance Lloyd.
#Texans have signed Baylor OLB Terrance Lloyd.— PDS (@PatDStat) May 11, 2014
Terrance Lloyd, DE, Baylor to Houston— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 11, 2014
Congrats to Baylor & Stratford alum, Terrance Lloyd, on his selection as an undrafted free agent by Texans!— Athletic Director (@sbisdathletics) May 12, 2014
DraftInsider.net with a brief description of Lloyd as an NFL prospect.
Undersized college defensive end with the physical skills and body type to be used at linebacker in the NFL. Comes with an upside.
Houston Texans Sign Undrafted Free Agent: Bryan Witzmann, OT South Dakota State
The Houston Texans picked up an offensive tackle with the signing of Bryan Witzmann from South Dakota State.
Congrats to our Jackrabbit alum OT Bryan Witzmann on signing as a free agent with the Houston Texans! pic.twitter.com/78ASr4JFwN— SDSU Football (@SDSUFootball) May 11, 2014
Congratulations to Somerset's Bryan Witzmann on signing a National Football League contract with the Houston... http://t.co/Pa38aR6neA— New Richmond News (@NewRichmondNews) May 11, 2014
According to Terry Vandrovec of the Argus Leader Witzmann was a long time starter and played a big role in one of his teammate's topping 2,000 yards.
The 6-foot-7, 311-pound Witzmann started every game in his four-year college career, an SDSU record 49. He was twice named an All-American, playing a key role in running back Zach Zenner topping 2,000 yards each of the last two seasons.