2011 Shadow Draft In Review

Rick Stewart

Oh yes, offseason content is here. Bask in it. Taking a look back at a shadow draft, compared to what the Houston Texans actually did, in 2011.

It's the end of January in Houston: 30-degree lows are becoming a distant memory and Texans fans are talking about the draft. While Mr. Brett Kollmann does yeoman's work on the tape-grinding circuit, I am going into the past -- to the Shadow Draft Texans, specifically -- to see how they did.

As Tim always says, block quotes and whiskey make the world go round. I don't think I can place any pictures of whiskey bottles in this post without SBN's legal team coming down on the site with the full weight of frumpiness that their position maintains, so you'll have to settle for the former.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of a shadow draft, it was popularized by John Sickels of Minor League Ball. Essentially, you pick at exactly the spots your team picks in the draft, and you aren't able to move down or up on your own. It is taken for granted in my version that, due to your general familiarity with the draft process, you are aware of what players are going to be off the board by your next pick. Thus, you don't get stuck picking someone rounds too early. All players signed or traded for by the team are at your disposal, and you can't keep players that leave.

Now, on to comparing my picks to the actual Houston selections...

1-11 -- Texans picked J.J. Watt, I picked Robert Quinn.

Wow, I've made a huge mistake.

Actually, I just followed faulty logic. I thought Houston was moving forward with the whole "Mario Williams is a defensive end" idea at the time of the pick, and that meant that putting a first-round pick into that position was the definition of insane. That'll learn me.

Quinn, at least, has validated my high opinion of him. 10.5 sacks for the Rams this year after spending his rookie season being in and out of the lineup. That doesn't make up for the fact that I passed on the best defensive player in the NFL, but at least I didn't really blow the pick. I probably would have taken Watt had I known that the Texans were going to need a starting end. Well, or Prince Amukamara. See, Quinn doesn't sound so bad now, does he?

2-42 -- Texans picked Brooks Reed, I picked Rahim Moore.

Moore is yet another safety that I overvalued, though it turns out I didn't do too poorly here. You may remember Moore from such plays as "The Time Joe Flacco Hit Jacoby Jones for a Stunning Deep Touchdown." He played the role of burn victim.

But he actually didn't have a terrible season overall. The Broncos had a much-improved pass defense and he was a big factor in that. I'm not saying he's better than Danieal Manning as of now, but I think it's fairly close. It's really kind of amazing how this middle stretch of the second round played out in retrospect. Here are the picks between Brooks Reed and Brandon Harris:

Kyle Rudolph

Titus Young

Rahim Moore

Orlando Franklin

Lance Kendricks

Stefen Wisniewski

Ben Ijalana

Marcus Gilchrist

Da'Quan Bowers

Marvin Austin

Stephen Paea

Jaiquawn Jarrett

Rodney Hudson

Shane Vereen

Mikel Leshoure

Torrey Smith

Greg Little

There's not a single player in this pack that I consider a star, and a lot of them have already been injury or talent busts. How many random sections of the second round can you say that about? Ijalana hasn't played a snap. Vereen is stuck behind Stevan Ridley. Jarrett has already been released. Bowers fell on talent and has continued to be hurt. I had a Stephen Paea mancrush and he's played well, but he's not an impact player right now or anything. I guess the best of the bunch is Smith, and I still see him as someone who could use some consistency.

Anyway, I think Reed has lived up to the expectations I had of his pick. He's not a pass-rusher, he's a jack-of-all trades linebacker, and I wouldn't want to spend a second-round pick on one of those. I would rather go for the game-changing safety. (Well, he did technically change the Baltimore-Denver game...)

2-60 -- Texans picked Brandon Harris, I picked Martez Wilson.

I actually came into this thinking that Wilson would be a Mo linebacker at the second level; that's where he started in college, and that's what his statistics led me to believe he'd be good at in the pros. Since I had passed on Brian Cushing in the first year of Shadow Draft Land, I thought Wilson could help take his place. Instead, he was groomed as a strong-side linebacker for the Gregg Williams Saints, then turned into a pass-rusher for the (admittedly desperate) Spagnuolo Saints. I don't even know what to make of him. He's definitely flashed talent as a pass rusher, and it's easy enough to just throw him in the outside linebacker role here and call it a day. I just wonder how bad he must have been in coverage to earn that shift.

Hey, at least he's doing better than Brandon Harris. And I loved the Harris pick -- I was big on him coming out. He wasn't awful in his limited time this year, but you would really have hoped for more from someone with his pedigree. I have to move on from this paragraph quickly before it's flagged for holding.

Kicking myself for not being in on Randall Cobb. I thought he was too much of a gimmick player coming out. Chris Culliver, K.J. Wright, Jurrell Casey, and Chris Conte were among the other top players between this pick and Houston's next one way at the end of the fourth round.

4-127 -- Texans picked Roc Carmichael, I picked Davon House.

This is one of the few picks I can remember that I've made in the process where I liked it better when I made it and was never given a reason to waiver on it. Whether you want to blame the depth at cornerback or the injuries, Carmichael has made next to no impact for the Texans. House has fought his own injuries, but when healthy he's also seen plenty of the field for a Green Bay team that has plenty of depth at corner. I don't necessarily think I have a future superstar, but I do like his chances of being a solid second banana, a la what Kareem Jackson finally became this year.

And at the very least, he's way better than Carmichael has been so far.

5-144 -- Texans picked Shiloh Keo, I picked Jacquizz Rodgers.

Keo has been a liability as a backup safety so far -- essentially a special-teams only player through two years of his career. Rodgers has not been the kind of dynamo I expected him to be (granted, the Atlanta offensive line is not a great run-blocking unit) so far, but he's been solid in the passing game and has generally been a decent pass-blocker despite his size. I took him here because I did not draft Ben Tate the year before.

I want to offer a thought exercise to anyone who considered trading Tate for a second-round pick a bad idea last offseason: even if Arian Foster isn't supposed to be as much of a workhorse as he was this year, how much value would you attach to 100 carries of Tate over 100 carries of Rodgers? I definitely acknowledge that Tate is the better back -- how much does that matter to you? For me, it might be worth an extra fifth-rounder. A second-rounder? I'll cash Tate in for that every chance I get, and I would've told you the same thing last offseason.

That said, Denarius Moore is looking like a better pick than Rodgers. Inconsistent, but he has the physical tools to be the kind of receiver Houston needs.

5-152 -- Texans picked T.J. Yates, I picked Chris Carter.

Pretty even here. Yates is a replacement-level quarterback from what we've seen, and Houston has given zero indication that they see him as a long-term heir to Matt Schaub, beyond the fact that they haven't brought anyone else in. Which, in my mind, is more of an endorsement of Schaub than of Yates. Carter has been a replacement-level outside linebacker. He finds pressure, but he isn't generating sacks by the bushel. He would probably be on the roster bubble.

And who did we both miss on? Richard Sherman. No big deal. I'm also a big Pernell McPhee fan.

7-214 -- Texans picked Derek Newton, I picked Greg Romeus.

The Texans win by default: Newton actually is a roster player, even if he is stretched as a starting tackle. Romeus is an injury casualty after tearing his ACL and MCL last preseason. But, even then, I guess the explosiveness he had never recovered from his college injuries, since he was a roster bubble guy.

7-254 -- Texans picked Cheta Ozougwu, I picked Mark Herzlich.

Herzlich will never be a star, but I maintain that he's capable of a Tim Dobbins role if he can stay healthy. Ozougwu has been an NFL irrelevant.

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