Entering this week, everyone knew that cornerback was going to be a position battle royal for your Houston Texans. I know it's early in training camp, but that doesn't prevent us from looking at reports and tweets to get a sense of how we all are feeling about the position. We'll certainly re-visit it from time to time, considering this position is in the lead to make us anxious in 2010.
Kareem Jackson, Glover Quin, Antwaun Molden, Brice McCain, Jacques Reeves, Fred Bennett, Mark Parson, and Sherrick McManis are all fighting for either five - given the glut of talent elsewhere - or six – which was last year's total - roster positions. After the jump, I'll provide brief write-ups summarizing each CB's play so far before I put the question to you: Start, Roster, Cut.
Before anyone says it, yes, it's basically an altered version of Marry/Date/Dump. However, this works, so JUMP and go with it.
Mr. Jackson missed the first practice of training camp, but was in for the second. Ever since, the news has been mixed. Andre Johnson abuses the kid and anything that moves. However, Andre's a CB Destroyer, so Ice Kareem's pretty much on the same level as anyone not named Revis or Scrabble. What means more right now is that K-Jack is biting on double moves. He's aggressive and overreacting, but there's promise because people are saying he's learning rather quickly. I've heard that he done alright against Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones and has put himself in position for picks. There's still the question of if he has top-end speed, but K-Jack is physical and improving daily. That's all we can ask of him at this point.
Glover Quin does not look comfortable in space. He's also been torched up top. Yes, I should point out that one-on-one drills are done without a pass rush or safety help, but confidence is wavering about him outside if Twitter and comments are taken into account. However, Glover's been good in the nickel, which he likes, according to OTA reports. From last season, we know that he doesn't have elite speed, but his tackling is exceptional. I'm sure Pancakes is somewhere telling people that Quin also didn't give up a TD last season. Back on track, perhaps Quin is better suited for a
FS role nickel role?
Antwaun Molden is still healthy. That is a success. This is where the wide opinion begins. I've read that some are impressed, some see starter potential, some see him struggling, some say he needs more on-field time, and some are not noticing him. If there's a common thread, it's that he's got the best range of any CB. He struggles within five yards, but looks good down-field. He's worked in the starting corner, nickel, and dime roles. Maybe he should be switched to FS? Maybe he should cover a team's speedster? Regardless, at 6'2'' and 200 pounds with a 4.38 40 to his credit, he's the best CB in terms of size and speed.
Brice McCain is only 5'9'' in a league where bigger receivers are becoming more common, but there are reports that he's probably one of the team's five fastest players. He's also done a good job of sticking to WRs. There's technique, but the lack of size and experience does hurt him. He's worked at the nickel and dime.
Frenchy Reeves is the veteran of the group and was a starter one year ago before his injury opened the door for bfd's favorite (Quin). Like many of the others, he has struggled in drills but has had his moments too. He's worked with the second team, I've read.
Fred Bennett has been toast. I've yet to read one good nugget of information on Bennett. He's basically been kicked to the third team with no signs of escape since everyone is torching him. It's brutal.
Mark Parson has turned some heads with three (reported) picks during drills. He hasn't worked with the starters, nor did he play in 2009, but ball-hawking skills are hard to ignore. He initially worked with the third team, but I've seen reports of him on the second team as well.
Early on in camp, Sherrick McManis has been the invisible man. He missed OTA time (for a good reason--to graduate), and he hasn't had much during this training camp, so the sample size is limited. I guess he did well on Monday against David Anderson, according to John Harris. He worked the second team nickel on Monday.
There are all our contenders, and here is the way I believe it should go at this absurdly early point before the first preseason game...
Start: Kareem Jackson and Antwaun Molden
Jackson's starting no matter what. He's been locked there and will stay there. The fact that he's improving is what we want to hear. The other starter is where you are probably shocked. Yes, I know Quin's the incumbent starter, but I like Molden better at this point. I put Molden over Quin because of Quin's struggles outside, Quin's comfort in the nickel, Molden's great range, and Molden's overall size and speed. It's a young starting group, but there is talent there.
Roster: Glover Quin (nickel), Brice McCain (dime), Mark Parson (quarter/5th CB), Sherrick McManis (PS, FS, IR stash)
Quin seems to play better in the nickel, so why not stick him there? Slot receivers are a big weapon, so if he can lock 'em down, then go with it. McCain sees the field as a dime because I just don't think he's big enough to start. Parson impresses me. The kid's going all out, and I can't help but root for him. If he keeps this up, then he'll find the roster spot he so covets. McManis was a draft pick, so they won't cut him without seeing what he can do (keep in mind I have virtually nothing to rate him on). He'll be a fifth/sixth CB, a practice squad player, free safety transfer, or a stash on the IR.
Cut: Jacques Reeves, Fred Bennett
Bennett's obvious. The writing's on the wall (or in this case, the blog) and has been since he tumbled down the depth chart over the past few years. He's not helping his case when project WR Dorin Dickerson and third team receivers are lighting him up. Reeves is a tougher cut because a veteran presence would be nice, but I'm going for broke with a youth movement and showing him some respect. He's a veteran and should go elsewhere for playing time, as opposed to sitting fifth behind four young guys.
What say you, BRB? At this point, how do you see the CB race shaping up? Where do they rank up in your absurdly early Start, Roster, Cut list?