For several seasons, Texans fans have dreamed of having a nose tackle. Every year there is talk of the favorites around draft time, even though it was known that those dreams would be killed come April. This year is different, however, because of a new defensive coordinator, scheme, and overall philosophy. This year Texans fans can self-scout NTs without the dreaded realization in the back of their minds that it is an exercise in futility.
Many draft analysts have Baylor DT Phil Taylor as their highest rated NT prospect for a 3-4 defense. Here on this blog, Taylor has been a polarizing figure because while some see the potential he flashed last season and during the Senior Bowl, others think of the reported poor work ethic that caused his weight to balloon or the off-the-field problems that led him to dismissal from Penn State.
Aaron Aloysius from Draft Breakdown did a great job analyzing Taylor's performance in the game against Oklahoma, complete with video of Taylor's influential plays. Of particular interest is this note from Aaron:
Another impressive aspect of Taylor’s performance against Oklahoma is how he continued to play hard when the outcome of the game already was decided. The game was a blowout loss for Baylor, with their offense incapable of doing anything against Oklahoma’s D. But Taylor played hard for four quarters, perhaps signaling that he’s gotten past his old effort issues.
While one game doesn't vindicate Taylor, it is hope that maybe the big man turned a corner in his senior year. It should also be noted for those that missed it, that Lance Zierlein stated that Taylor was talked to by Texans scouts the first day of Senior Bowl practice. For more on the Texans, including draft coverage, follow the jump.
The last NT that was drafted by Wade Phillips was Jay Ratliff, who was not invited to the 2005 NFL Scouting Combine. Dan Kadar has a list of other players who weren't invited to the Combine but went on to have successful careers in the NFL.
The NFLPA Game is full of players who are not invited to the Combine as well. For more on these players, check out Wes Bunting's review of Day Two of practice.
Alan Burge has transitioned into draft coverage, as noted by his first draft watch post. He used this post not to highlight a specific player, but rather to discuss the needs that might be filled in the draft by the Texans.
One factor that will be important for the Texans draft is at what position Wade Phillips will utilize Mario Williams most. If you listen to Phillips, it seems that the answer is he intends to leave Williams at the end position and just let him play like he did with Bruce Smith.
Lastly, what would today be without a couple of articles about Bob McNair? Rivers McCown contends that McNair has no one to blame but himself for the Texans lack of success. Also, Jerome Solomon wonders why McNair wouldn't trade records with the Jaguars or the Panthers and wonders if it is financial reasons. Of note, Jerome told me this bit during our Twitter exchange on Monday about the McNair issue:
@JakeBRB I have never said he cares more about making $$ than winning. He cares about both, but only knows how to do the former.