Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself absorbing draft information like a ShamWow. Even though it’s taken me a bit longer to get into it, I love the draft. Aside from getting most fans optimistic about their teams, the draft is quite a science. You have tons of front office people trying to find that happy medium of value (both big board wise and position class wise), need (filling holes on the roster), organization fit (scheme, character), and talent (immediate impact/future potential). It's not as simple as taking the best talent (nor is it as simple as ranking everyone on one big board like Mel Kiper does...but that's a different article altogether).
For the sake of the prospect’s round, I went to various draft websites (your Mocking The Draft, WalterFootball, FootballsFuture, DraftCountdown, terrible DraftTek, CBSSports’ section, etc.) and got a sense of range. Granted, projected round will be a very fluid situation over the coming weeks.
Furthermore, I did not put my Rick Smith hat on for this mock. It is what I would do if I were general manager. I do try and stick to organization fits though, so there will be no dream-like scenarios of trading up or trying to make a square fit in a round hole.
I am a supporter of this developing pipeline to Wisconsin and a huge Toon fan. Admittedly, there is a foot injury that happened in January, but I won't let it impact my mock unless the injury is deemed incredibly serious at the Combine's medical screening.
Back to the explanation, I love Toon's route-running, his dedication to blocking, and his effort when plays aren't going his way. To me, that’s what makes this kid potentially special – his effort on plays, runs or passes, that don’t go his way. Never once do I not think he's getting the ball or doubt his effort. I appreciate that after some of the inconsistencies the receiving corps has shown.
Toon's a big receiver who has good hands and isn't afraid to run across the middle. He's not a burner, but I think he plays fast enough. He reminds me some of Anquan Boldin in that aspect – a possession receiver who is going to rack up catches and first downs. I think he's going to have a good pro career and would be a welcomed addition to this receiving corps.
2nd Round - Alabama NT Josh Chapman
Would you want a nose tackle that played all season with a torn knee ligament...in the SEC....didn't miss a game....and made a big impact? That describes the kind of nose tackle I would love to see in the middle of this defense. Chapman's a bull, and, pardon the bad line, he should be on parade with some of his Crimson Tide brethren in Houston.
3rd Round - Boise State OT/G Nate Potter
Potter will need to strengthen up, but he has good cut blocking technique, good feet, and should be a fantastic fit in the zone blocking scheme. I don't know if he'll ever be a left tackle in the NFL, but I like his fit at guard and right tackle - and guard is an underrated need for Houston. Potter could provide great depth at a number of positions and has a good chance to be a starter one day.
4th Round - Michigan C David Molk
If the Texans walked away with Potter and Molk, to go along with Rashad Butler, I would be thrilled with Houston’s offensive line depth for the first time in franchise history. MDC's made me a believer in Molk, who slides down due to size concerns, as a center with good technique, quick feet, and who would fit nicely into the scheme.
5th Round - Nevada DE/DT Brett Roy
Four straight picks on linemen? Yeah, it's a BFD-kind of draft. I think there is a need for defensive end depth and the only first-team All-American not from an AQ-BCS conference can be that, since he’s too small (6'4'', 280 pounds, similar to Antonio "Ninja Assassin" Smith) to stay at 4-3 defensive tackle in the pros.
Roy had 31.5 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks over his two seasons as a starter. Sure, it's the WAC, but that shows me he can make plays in the backfield and be incredibly disruptive. I think that is what ol' Wade Phillips wants, and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that he’s described as a gritty, high-motor player or that he works out at the same gym Brian Cushing does.
6th Round - California WR Marvin Jones
This may be a little later than where Jones actually goes, due to his solid showing at the Senior Bowl, but I like what I see of his route-running and hands. Limited strength, many see him as strictly a slot receiver because of this, and being overshadowed by a more talented teammate has led Jones to receiving a lower-round grade.
7th Round - Northwestern QB Dan Persa
I should wait for Vega to calm down before moving on. I expect Matt Leinart to be cut which, potentially, opens up a spot for a third quarterback. Persa's still recovering from his injury in 2010 and is shorter than the ideal, but he is extremely accurate and smart. I can take a flyer on that in the West Coast scheme.
On the whole, I have added two guys who should contribute from day one at thin positions and another two guys who could be starters due to free agency or injury. I found some nice late-round talents who could provide solid depth and a project quarterback with some serious upside.