Houston Texans Shadow Draft
Whether you’re in full-fledged panic mode like most of the folks at DGDB&D or you’re ready to rationalize like Chris at Houston Diehards, I think it’s safe to say that a majority of the picks the Texans took here were head-scratchers as far as common sense goes. That said, I’m sick of complaining and TE jokes, so as an exercise, I’m going to shadow draft the Texans picks on nothing but common sense and mock draft ratings. As the year ends, we’ll look back on these and see who made the smarter moves. Right now, I tend to stand closer to the rationalization pack, but I also think that it shows a grave overconfidence by the FO in the personnel groups that the main Texans bloggers, as a group, think are problem areas. Particularly at safety.
Anyway, shadow draft rules:
1) No trading down – Trust me, if I ran this draft, we’d be Patriots-ing the whole day, but because we don’t have the inside knowledge of what packages were available, I’m not going to sit here and use what we do know as rationale that we could’ve made the same deals.
2) I can’t assume anyone we picked lasts to the next pick – I’m not going to say “Antoine Caldwell lasts to us in the fourth round, then we take him”. If I replace one of our picks, he doesn’t last to our next one. This way, I have to make an actual pick between the two guys.
) I will assume we have gathered enough draft intelligence to have a vague idea of who will be off the board by our next pick – I mean, I’d hope so anyway.
4) I won’t just draft a bunch of tight ends and be funny – But damn, it’s tempting.
ROUND 1, PICK #15 – Michael Oher, LT, Ole Miss.
Why hold off on showcasing the big differences of my thinking versus the FO’s? Duane Brown was abysmal last year in pass protection at LT, and I’m not willing to walk into a season without any real insurance against it, particularly now that Rosencopter has been replaced and Schaub’s health is probably even more important. Oher and Brown can battle it out in camp. If Oher wins, Brown can shift to guard where his mauling skills will be better utilized, and if Brown wins, we have a good developing young player to back up both tackle positions.
Other considerations: Clay Matthews would be my pick of the two USC linebackers, but I don’t really like either of them too much. Oher is the best value here and the best player available, IMO, not to mention he fills a need in my book.
ROUND 2, PICK #46 – Connor Barwin, DE/OLB, Cincinnati
This pick continues to grow on me, and I’ll agree with the Texans brass on it. Clint Sintim was selected just one pick ahead of us, and I’d definitely take him over Barwin, but since I can’t trade, I do love Barwin’s pass-rush skills and think he’s going to be a good fit for the Texans. I guess he’d probably be playing a bit more linebacker for me here without Cushing, but he knows what his real job is: giving the pass blockers something to worry about besides Mario.
Other considerations: Max Unger would give us a lot of versatility, but since we already put a first rounder into the offensive line, we’ve got to make a defensive pick here. I’m willing to hope (and with hindsight, figure) that a safety I like lasts until the third round. The only other real consideration is a DT, and while I think Fili Moala is vastly underrated in the context of this draft, especially since he was rated #1 on most boards before the season started, I’ll take the pass rusher over the run stuffer since the Texans offense will probably be explosive enough to have some shootouts.
ROUND 3, PICK #77 – Rashad Johnson, FS, Alabama
The Texans have needed a real safety for the entirety of the franchises existence. Johnson doesn’t have elite measureables, but he’s got instincts and cover ability, and he’s great value at this point in the draft. I also really like Antoine Caldwell, who we really picked here, but safety wins out over center here, as much as I dislike Chris Myers. I’m looking forward to not having to find a starting safety on the street after training camp with this pick.
Other considerations: Juaquin Iglesias at this point is easily the highest player on my board, but Johnson is close and we don’t need another wide receiver. I’m sure he’s not crying too hard anyway now that he has Jay Cutler throwing to him. And obviously, Caldwell makes a lot of sense too.
ROUND 4, PICK #112 – Chip Vaughn, S, Wake Forest
Not one, but TWO actual safeties! Vaughn slipped into the fourth, but he plays the run well and he’ll give the Texans their first safety that can actually deliver a hit in…well, we already went over this. Vaughn isn’t the best player available here, but since we have another pick relatively soon and know that he could go between it, we snag him here.
Other considerations: Well, most of the other considerations are going to be around for the Vikings pick, but special mention to DJ Moore who I also considered worthy of nabbing here. In the end, I think between Dunta Robinson, Fred Bennett, Jacque Reeves, and Antuan Molden, we have enough invested in CB to see how it all shakes out this year before we ascertain whether we need more help.
ROUND 4, PICK #122 – Andre Brown, RB, North Carolina State
Brown had the best speed score in the entire draft, he’s got a good bit of bulk on him, and he hasn’t carried the ball so much that you worry about him pulling up lame any time soon. Slaton needs someone to spell him, and this isn’t such an early pick that you feel like you’re overdrafting in the Kubiak system. My only concern with him is that he was injured twice in college, but thats overridden by pure talent in the fourth round.
Other considerations: Ultimately I’m mad that all the clean DT’s with a chance of playing nose go here, but I just can’t justify reaching for them this high. As I said to soctty (or however you spell it) in one of the open draft threads at BRB, with no chance at Raji I feel like Mario’s princess is in a different castle on this one.
ROUND 5, PICK #152 – James Casey, TE, Rice
While I didn’t enjoy the Cook pick quite as much, and I think pass-catching TE’s are a bit overrated by the majority of the NFL draft boards in comparison to good blockers, I do think this is a fine pick by Smithiak. Great value in round five, gives us a lot of versatility, and fits in well as both a goal-line option and insurance against OD holding out or not getting signed. Local kid too, although ultimately that means Jack diddly, it’s nice to see.
Other considerations: Marcus Freeman would be a nice hedge bet, since Barwin may end up playing more DL than LB, but ultimately I’m relatively comfortable with Adibi and Diles as long as they stay healthy. I passed on Macho Harris for the same reason I passed on DJ Moore. Bear Pascoe was also considered, more for his name than any actual productivity. Really though, I like this Casey pick a lot.
ROUND 6, PICK #188 – A.Q. Shipley, C, Penn State
Considered near Caldwell and Jonathan Luigis as middle-round centers on most mocks, Shipley slides down because of concerns about his short arms. We’ve seen centers be discounted for reasons like this before and end up being great late round picks. Matt Birk, for instance. Shipley is plenty agile, which would be a great fit in a zone blocking scheme. Also, like most NFL defensive lineman, I think he’d have a great chance of pushing Chris Myers right out of a job (ziiiiing!).
Other considerations: Coye Francis is yet another corner I pass on, and James Davis gets passed even though I think he’d be a good fit for us too, mainly because we already drafted a RB.
ROUND 7, PICK #223 – Chris Baker, DT, Hampton
A massive 326 pound NT, Baker slipped all the way out of the draft due to character concerns and small school syndrome. I’m not exactly enamored with him, but NT is a massive need area and I’m alright taking a risk in the seventh round. Hell, he can’t be any more of a dick than Travis Johnson, can he?
Other considerations: Finishing this thing in less than two hours.
A lot of this comes down to simple common sense, and I’m a little perplexed that more teams don’t follow it, at least for the first five rounds. Think about it this way: you pick low-risk guys that are high on a lot of draft boards, and if they bust, you at least can say that nobody thought he’d be a huge bust. Instead, the Texans are tied to a lot of DB’s that nobody was high on.
I’m happy to take this draft over our current one, and I look forward to measuring it after the season, although I’m hopeful that the Texans make me look stupid.