In the effort to satisfy my needs to predetermine the Texans draft needs has dug me deeply into the abyss of money and business. A place where I dared not venture before.
As it stands, from my research, the Texans are roughly 6.8 - 8.4 million under the salary cap (my exact number as of now is 8.386 million) with multiple free agents in need of contracts; however, to the disappointment of many fans the scenarios that I have generated are more likely to occur than not, concluding to the loss of some of our favorite players leaving the team. This post will try to follow prior tactics of GM Rick Smith to narrow the spectrum of how he will approach the draft.
I am in full belief that Smith, drafts players a year early to fill a void that will be left behind when a UFA becomes too expensive to keep around the following year. An example of this is Whitney Mercilus who many believed to be the replacement for Mario Williams; however, that is not the case as Mercilus was in fact drafted to replace Conner Barwin, as was drafting Brooks Reed to replace Williams (this didn't seem to be the case as Williams' injury had thrust Reed into the starting lineup his rookie season). I assume that you know understand what I'm trying to get at which is Conner Barwin will be allowed to walk.
Back to the money. Roughly 6 million in cap room is needed to sign all the draft picks leaving roughly 2.4 million in room to use, even though more will come with cuts prior to and after the draft. With only 2.4 million in cap space Rick Smith will release some expendable players. The most noticeable contract is that of Kevin Walter. Walter remains one of the best blocking wide receivers in the game; however, his play has been slowly declining and will not have a resurgence anytime soon. With his release, provides the opportunity for Lestar Jean and DeVier Posey to elevate their game while saving the Texans 2.5 million this year and 4.5 in 2014. Walter had his base salary reduced last year to remain with the team; therefore, an impending departure this year seems more likely.
With an additional 2.5 million in cap space to go along with the 2.4 million already, the Texans could make a run at safety Glover Quinn. The entire lot of 4.9 million would have to be spent to retain his services. Even though no player was drafted last year to fill the void if Quinn were to leave, I don't believe that the Texans will spend all of their money on Quinn, especially now that the market is full of safeties and the draft has its own abundance of developed safeties. Once again, I believe Quinn will be allowed to walk. I am pushing for a valuable player like Louis Delmas or Adrian Wilson at a low end contract.
With the release of Kevin Walter, the Texans may be in line to spend their first round draft pick on one of three play-makers at wide receiver. Either Cordarrell Patterson, Keenan Allen, or Tavon Austin are the only wide receivers worth taking in the first round to step right into that number two receiver spot next to Andre Johnson. After them it makes no sense to draft any other in any round because the talent level may be only at par with that of our current backup wide receivers. Therefore, if those players are gone by the 27th pick then the Texans will select a player to fill the void that will be left behind from a 2014 free agent.
The most noticeable Texan names to hit free agency in 2014 are ILB Brian Cushing, G Wade Smith, DE Antonio Smith, ILB Darryl Sharpton, TE Garrett Graham, RB Ben Tate, & DT Earl Mitchell. Side note, I wish that Tate would have had a healthy season last year as his trade value would have been great this season; however, with the rise of Jonathan Grimes, and long term deal for Foster, Tate will be allowed to walk next year unless a low contract is possible. Out of those free agents, the one player that is nearing the end of his ceiling is Antonio Smith and I can seem them allocating the money he would demand to resigning Wade Smith and Brian Cushing, two more valuable players than Antonio from a production standpoint. Another solid player that could walk away would be Earl Mitchell who hasn't step into the starting role like we thought he would. Along with the possible exit of DT Shawn Cody this year, there is going to be a big hole in the middle of our defensive line come 2014. Therefore, two scenarios are plausible.
If the three wide receivers I have mentioned are not on the board with the 27th pick, then drafting for the future, the Texans can either fill the future hole of DT or DE. I believe that this years class of DTs is deep and perhaps a 2nd round talent will be available with their 2nd round pick such as a Jesse Williams out of Alabama or a Jordan Hill our of Penn State. Therefore, our 1st round pick can be used to draft a defensive end and in my opinion someone that may be around at that pick would be Margus Hunt out of SMU, a freakish talent that would mirror J.J.Watt for years to come and at 6-8 would swatt away passes similarly to Watt himself causing QB to fear the rush from both interior sides and frustrate them with the lack of throwing lanes visible. This is the pick I am most hopeful for; therefore, I may be a bit bias while writing this.
On a side note, rounds 3-5 will hold value at inside linebackers such as Jonathan Bostic out of Florida, so watch for a pick at that position somewhere in there.
What is also interesting about this year's draft is that the Texans should get an additional 3rd round compensatory draft pick for losing Mario Williams to free agency along with a couple more late round compensatory picks for Jason Allen, Mike Briesel, & Joel Dreessen. This would be beneficial for the Texans and help their ability to move up in the draft if needs be. For example, we could use our 2nd round pick and one of our third round picks to move up to the top of the second round where a strong DT would still be available, or back into the bottom of the first to select Margus Hunt if we did take a WR with our first pick. Once again we would have the ability to move up in later rounds say with a 4th and 5th round pick to move back into the bottom of the third round where the value and talent level will still be there because of such a deep draft class to select a DT or perhaps even a safety. And Don't be surprised if the Texans double scoop at the DT position in this year's draft.
In conclusion, sorry to say but bye to Kevin Walter, Connor Barwin, and Glover Quinn along with many other Texans. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.
P.S. please leave comments about what you think