One of the first draft websites I ever stumbled across as a Texans fan, back when I was excited about the prospect of drafting Willis McGahee near the top of the second round, was NFL Draft Countdown. I enjoyed the site's thorough scouting reports and still find them much more readable and common sense than what any other draft site on the web is doing.
Fast forward seven years later, and I've gotten the kindly Mr. Scott Wright of the re-branded DraftCountdown.com to sit down and answer a few questions for us BRB'ers. You can also follow him on Twitter, if you have one, at @DraftCountdown for quick hits and tidbits. Onwards with the questions, where you will find the super duper sleeper pick for the Texans! ...Maybe.
RM: Running an independent draft site, what do you feel is the biggest advantage that NFL teams have and get to look at that you don't when you're creating your rankings?
SW: This is an easy one. It's the ability to do medical and background checks. When a player goes considerably lower than I have him ranked 9 times out of 10 it's due to an injury or character issue that I am not aware of. Last year there was a perfect example in Florida TE Cornelius Ingram, who everyone thought was a 2nd or 3rd Round talent. Little did I know that his surgically repaired ACL was deemed by doctors to be on the verge of tearing again and he wound up falling to the 5th Round. If I had that information I obviously would have dropped Ingram on my board considerably just like the actual teams did. However, at the same time I think teams can fall victim to having too much information and overanalyzing things in regards to character as well.
RM: Interior offensive lineman has been a source of concern for Texans fans for some time now. Obviously this involves some dreams about players like Mike Iupati and Maurkice Pouncey, but do you see any guys that should go from the third round and down that fit the zone blocking scheme and could start right away?
SW: The guy who really stands out is Jon Asamoah of Illinois, who could potentially play guard, tackle or center. In addition to being super versatile Asamoah is a great athlete and reminds me of Jeremy Zuttah from a couple of years ago. As an added bonus Asamoah could probably be had at a bargain point in the draft because he suffered a shoulder injury at the Senior Bowl which will likely push him down a bit.
RM: You've often said that the golden rule of the NFL draft is to not pass on a potential franchise quarterback if you don't already have one. What other positions would you put a strong emphasis on having settled if you were running a team?
SW: I think once you have that franchise quarterback in place the next step is to protect him so I'd say left tackle. I'd probably go with a stud defensive end next.
RM: Of the glob of corners that look to be coming off the board in the second or third round, which of them seem like the best fits to you in a system that runs a little more zone than usual but isn't married to it?
SW: In Round 2 I really like Alabama's Kareem Jackson, who looks great on tape and ran much better than expected in workouts. In Round 3 perhaps a guy like Amari Spievey of Iowa.
RM: Obviously I'm estimating because you're not done with the scouting reports yet, but you seem to have about 23-25 guys with a first round grade or higher on your site. How does that compare to other years? How strong is this draft?
SW: This is definitely one of the better drafts in recent years, especially in terms of depth. I'd estimate that there will be about 27 guys who receive my 1st Round grade this year, which is up from an average that is usually in the low-20's. The real value of this draft is going to be in Round 2 and Round 3 though.
RM: A plurality of Battle Red Blog's "braintrust" (I use this term loosely) is and has been enamored with drafting a nose tackle that demands 2 blockers to free up Mario Williams and Antonio Smith to get to the quarterback. Lots of draft sites, including your 2/11 update, have instead projected Brian Price to the Texans. Is this a case where Amobi Okoye is raked for being unproductive despite his relative youth to other third year players, or is Price too talented to leave on the board?
SW: Well, Texans fans might want that and I can see where they are coming from but that isn't the type of player Frank Bush wants. If they did go for a nose tackle type then Dan Williams of Tennessee would be a great fit in Round 1, but my guess is they will be more interested in a guy like Lamarr Houston of Texas in Round 2 or 3.
RM: As you may know, the Texans have had a rough go against Peyton Manning and the Colts since the beginning of their existence. Last year, Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush opted to counter their constant 3 wide sets by playing almost exclusively out of the nickel. Given a choice between a defensive tackle or a free safety, which do you think improving is more of a priority against that match up?
SW: I think if Texas S Earl Thomas is available at #20 that should be the Texans pick. He is a great marriage of value and need. Also, I really don't see a defensive tackle being available at #20 who fits their scheme and deserves to go that high. If not Thomas my money is on Fresno St. RB Ryan Mathews going to Houston.
RM: If you had to stake your name to one player you project to go after the first three rounds one day becoming an All-Pro, who would it be and why?
SW: Great question! Wow, an All-Pro... That is a pretty lofty accomplishment. Of course a lot depends on the situation a prospect goes into but I am going to say Washington LB Donald Butler. I just fell in love with that guy at the Senior Bowl and people just didn't see much of him because he played for such a bad team. He is athletic, fast and explosive and could play either inside or outside at the next level.
My first thoughts? Frank Bush sure is going to be the lightning rod around here next season. Let's start the Donald Butler bandwagon? Lets all get mentally prepared for Ryan Mathews? What say you BRB?
I'd like to thank Scott again for taking the time out of his extremely busy draft scouting schedule to answer these questions. Please show him some love in the comments even if the Frank Bush not wanting a NT thing made your skin rankle a little bit. (Raises hand.)