The Draft has been the spark for the rebuilding process of the Houston Texans. Since Gary Kubiak took the reigns in 2006, the Texans have shown adeptness at finding talent to fit their needs that few other teams have matched in that time period. Some credit the fact that Kubiak was heavily involved in scouting while an assistant coach in Denver, while others feel that it is because Rick Smith values the opinions of the assistants that have a multitude of experience at their specialties, like Alex Gibbs and Frank Bush. Whatever the cause, it is encouraging to see results in the draft after several years of disappointments prior to the current regime.
It isn’t just the Texans’ ability to identify talent in the first two rounds that has led to success though; it’s also their keen eye for talent in rounds three through seven. Every year since 2006, there have been key players that had their names called on Day Two of the proceedings, such as Owen Daniels, Eric Winston, Fred Bennett, Xavier Adibi, and Zac Diles, all of whom have been productive starters for Houston at one point or another.
The Texans have held their cards pretty close to their vest this year, so we have little to no word on what players they are interested in, even in the first two rounds. All we know is the Texans’ overall needs. Based off these needs, I’ve tried to peruse the second day draft talent to find players that I think would look great in Steel Blue. I included the round in which I feel they may be available, but that round is also the earliest I would want the Texans to select them.
Andre Brown/RB/NC State – 3rd Round – Brown would likely be a first round pick if it wasn’t for the multiple injuries he suffered in college. Brown wowed coaches and scouts at the Senior Bowl, and then absolutely astonished them at the Combine with his 4.37 40 despite weighing 224 pounds. His rare blend of size and speed would be a perfect match for Slaton’s speed and quickness. Unfortunately, wishing for Brown in the 3rd might be a pipe dream, yet I wouldn’t want to take him before then.
Rashad Jennings/RB/Liberty – 3rd Round – Jennings is a beast. He doesn’t possess Brown’s top-end speed, but he has more power. Jennings also has considerable character. Often times transfers such as the one he conducted (Pitt to Liberty) are done for selfish reasons, but Jennings did it because his father was sick. He’s definitely not blazing, but we don’t need a track star; we only need a goal line back.
Antoine Caldwell/C/Alabama – 4th Round – Caldwell fared well against SEC DTs throughout his career. If he is able to put his hands on opposing lineman he fares well, but speed can sometimes beat him, keeping him from being dominant. Caldwell is also known as a smart player, which will help him adapt to Alex Gibbs’ zone blocking scheme.
Patrick Turner/WR/USC – 4th Round – The Texans had the 3rd best yardage offense in the league, but only the 17th ranked scoring offense. The offensive players that Houston needs are ones that will help in the red zone, and Turner can do just that. How high is someone that is 6’5” that can jump 34.5”? High enough. Also, Turner isn’t just a big oaf. He could be a decent possession receiver in the NFL, especially under the tutelage of our offensive staff.
Lydon Murtha/OT-G/Nebraska – 5th Round – Murtha was by far the most athletic OT at the Combine, as evidenced by his 4.82 40 and his 35” vertical jump. Murtha is on the lighter side at 306 pounds, but at 6’7” he can stand to add some weight, even at the risk of losing some speed, and still be impressive.
Quan Cosby/WR/Texas – 5th Round – This may garner me an accusation of being a homer, but I assure you that I try my best to disassociate myself with Texas players as soon as they are done playing in Austin. I think that Cosby is going to be a great NFL player cut from the same cloth as Wes Welker. Nothing on paper about Cosby is that astonishing; he ran a 4.5 40, and he is already 26 because of a stint playing professional baseball. If you watch Cosby play though, there is no doubt that he can play football.
Gartrell Johnson/RB-FB/Colorado State – 6th Round – Johnson attends the same school that Gary Kubiak’s sons attend, which happens to employ a zone blocking scheme. Even though Johnson is only 220 pounds, at 5’10” he’s built more like a FB than a RB, which is probably a good thing. Kubiak has stated before that he prefers having two FBs on the roster, and right now we only have the Human Coke Machine. Johnson will likely last until the 6th though, because he probably won’t be good for more than 10 carries a game in the NFL.
Louis Vasquez/G/Texas Tech – 6th Round – If you have a soft spot for big, bruising offensive lineman, look no further than Vasquez. Vasquez is 6’5” and weighs 333 pounds. As you can imagine, he’s not the quickest man in the world, but his 39 reps in the bench press were best in that category at the Combine this year. You can always find a use for a bruiser of his ilk.
Kaluka Maiava/OLB/USC – 3rd Round – Who is the loser in the Clay Matthews Cinderella story? A big bruising SLB Maiava is not, but he is a football player. Despite irregular playing time in his senior year, Maiava recorded the third most tackles for the Trojans and was the MVP of the Rose Bowl. Maiava is better suited to play WLB, but would be a great addition for depth and could play in the rotation immediately.
Chip Vaughn/SS/Wake Forrest – 3rd Round – Vaughn is the last of a dying breed--a true SS. At 6’2” 221 pounds, Vaughn has the size to play in the box but is quick enough (4.42 40) to cover some as well. Vaughn loves contact, and is responsible for 192 of Wake Forrest’s tackles in the last two years. If Vaughn didn’t start immediately, he would receive significant playing time.
Sherrod Martin/CB-FS/Troy – 3rd Round – Martin is my dark horse at FS this year. Martin is incredibly athletic, so much so that coaches played him as a CB in the Senior Bowl, something that he rarely did the majority of his collegiate career. So what you have is a guy that played almost exclusively at FS, but has the athleticism to play CB (4.43 40). At 6’1” 200 pounds, he’s more suited to play FS anyway, which happens to be one of our needs.
Michael Hamlin/SS/Clemson – 3rd Round – Hamlin isn’t the fastest guy in the world (4.57 40) and he’s not the strongest either (17 reps), but he performs on the field. He’s been productive since his redshirt freshman year, and in the last two years he has 177 tackles and 10 INT. That’s about 8 tackles a game and an INT almost every two games. I don’t like him as much as Vaughn or Martin, but if both of them are gone and we haven’t drafted a safety yet, I definitely wouldn’t mind Hamlin.
Darcel McBath/FS/Texas Tech – 4th Round – McBath has shown adeptness in coverage with his 12 career INT, 7 of those coming last year, but is lacking in run support. That deficiency means that he will probably only be suited to play FS in the NFL, a league in which teams prefer safeties to be interchangeable. That fact coupled with mediocre measurables (6’0”, 198 pounds, 4.58 40) has him slated to go in the middle of the draft. McBath does have an impressive 38” vertical, and a name that makes him sound like he was a Duck Tales character.
Dorell Scott/DT/Clemson – 4th Round – Scott isn’t the prototypical space eater yet, but he could be. Scott measured 6’3” 312 pounds at the Combine, so his frame appears to have some room left for a little more weight. Several 3-4 teams are looking at Scott to anchor their defensive line at NT, which means he’s big enough to play alongside Amobi.
Greg Toler/CB/St. Pauls – 4th Round – Kubiak and Smith love to take flyers on small school guys every once in a while. Well, is St. Paul’s College small enough for you? Toler at 5’11” 191 pounds is being compared to Domanique Rodgers-Cromartie. Toler ran the 40 in 4.45, and could be a steal in the 4th round.
John Gill/DT/Northwestern – 5th Round – Gill is the same type of DT that Amobi Okoye is--a smaller penetrating DT. I don’t think we should replace Amobi, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get more depth behind him. Despite being 6’3”/301 pounds, Gill ran the 40 in 4.92 and the all important 10-time used to determine a D lineman’s burst off the ball was 1.7, which is pretty good for a guy his size.
Zack Follet/OLB/California – 5th Round – Follet was originially brought to my attention by DieHard Chris, who is rather fond of him, and after reading up on Follet and watching videos, I jumped on the bandwagon as well. Follet had an amazing 51 tackles for loss in his career at Cal, which shows that he can get into the backfield and wreak havoc. Follet is undersized to play SLB at 6’3” 236 pounds, but could be a candidate to give depth at WLB.
Brandon Underwood/FS/Cincinnati – 5th Round – Underwood is slated to go late in the draft because he only started one year, but what a year it was. While playing both FS and CB in 2008, Underwood tallied 66 tackles, 4 INT, 2 forced two fumbles and recovered 3, all of which earned him all-conference honors. Underwood has good measureables as well at 6’1” 200 pounds, and ran 4.50 40 with a 36.5” vertical. Underwood would probably be a 3rd round prospect or better if he had more experience.
Russell Allen/OLB/San Diego State – 6th Round – Allen would definitely be a project, but what else would you expect in the 6th round? Allen is 6’3”/230 pounds, which shows that he has the frame to be bigger, and he ran a 4.65 50, which included a 1.58 10-yard time, which was equal to Clay Matthews III. Allen started all 48 games since his time started at SD St., and was a Dick Butkus award nominee twice.
Lardarius Webb/CB/Nicholls State – 6th Round – Webb is another small school prospect, but the difference with him is that he started at a bigger university (Southern Miss.) and transferred to the smaller institution. Webb is smaller at 5’10”/180 pounds, and would be a huge project as a CB, but what I love about him is his return ability. Webb ran a 4.35 40, and returned 16 kicks for 472 total yards (29.5 average) before teams simply quit kicking to him. For that kind of ability, I wouldn’t mind expending a 6th round pick.
There are other players that I feel will make good or even great players in the NFL that can be had in rounds three through seven, but I didn’t include them because I either felt they didn’t fulfill a need for the Texans or they would have to be taken too early for my liking. If you feel that I have any glaring omissions, you disagree with any of my picks or simply have a dark horse of your own, feel free to let me know. Who knows--maybe a couple of these players will be the newest members of the Houston Texans come Sunday.