This is the week, readers. The 2013 NFL Draft takes place this Thursday through Saturday, live from New York City. After this week, we can move away from 2013 NFL Mock Drafts and focus on what's really important: 2014 NFL Mock Drafts!
Okay, okay, I kid, but seriously this will be my last Texanscentric mock draft before Thursday's first round. I've gone through four different mocks so far, as well as analyzing the draft tendencies and trends of your beloved Houston Texans, so I'll keep it simple for the twist with the fifth: I'm introducing trades. That's not to guarantee a trade will happen, but I've been thinking it's likely after seeing some mocks lately, noticeably the full mock on Turf Show Times.
As an aside, since I'm linking all over the place, I'll also use this prominent space to link to Nashmeister's invite to a first round draft game. I know I'm in, as are the esteemed Brett Kollmann and the beloved BFD, so it should be a good show to measure your ability to prognostibate Thursday's first round.
Back on track...you should know the drill by now. Let's get to the final mock draft.
1st Round: Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor
I know, I know, you're stunned. The team goes four deep on cornerbacks and there are so many needs elsewhere. Why would they take Taylor, besides general manager Rick Smith's love of cornerbacks? Think big picture for a second.
Last year, Johnathan Joseph had to miss time with a groin injury. The problem was that neither Brice McCain or Brandon Harris really looked comfortable outside and the Texans' secondary struggled a bit. Additionally, the Texans seem to be preparing the groundwork to have as much money available to handle the extension of J.J. Watt. Kareem Jackson will become a free agent after the 2014 season and Johnathan Joseph becomes much easier to make a cap casualty. Smith, learning from the Dunta Robinson nightmare, would need a plan in place if he decides to get rid of one. Enter Taylor.
At 5-foot-11-inches and 192 pounds, Taylor's size is right in line with Jackson and Joseph's, but he's faster, as evidenced by his 4.39 40-yard-dash time. Taylor's strength is in man coverage, a Wade Phillips preference, and he can flip his hips to keep pace with receivers cutting or running downfield. He's also not too shabby in run defense. He even has some sacks off the edge, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was brought in as injury insurance, a future starter, and maybe a contender to return kicks with his speed. This move also lets Houston move Harris to their third safety role, as was rumored last season and this offseason.
2nd Round: University of Southern California wide receiver Robert Woods
Firstly, this is going to be a trade-up by Rick Smith and company. The New York Jets look to be a franchise wanting to add extra picks; they are sitting at 39 before a wave of receiver hungry teams come up, so they're a perfect trade partner. The Texans will trade their 2nd round pick (57), their 4th round pick (124), and a 6th round pick (195) to New York for the 39th overall pick and New York's 6th round pick (178).
I've talked about Woods before, and I stand by what I've said. If the Texans are looking for someone who could immediately contribute and understand the West Coast offense, Woods is the guy. Read this interview and this breakdown by Yahoo! writer Doug Farrar and you'll understand why I think he's the best bet to become a Houston receiver. It's worth the pick.
3rd Round: UConn outside linebacker Trevardo Williams
3rd Round Compensation: North Carolina inside linebacker Kevin Reddick
I'm going to redirect to the last mock. Both have the multi-year, on-field production that the Texans like, and Reddick was a team captain. These make too much sense not to be high on the Texans' draft board. I don't buy the rumors of Houston not being high on Reddick because he meets so many of Houston's checkmarks. The third might be a bit early for Reddick to some, but Houston's not on the board again until the late fifth in this scenario.
5th Round: Tennessee-Martin nose tackle Montori Hughes
Hughes is hard to project. Mocks have had him going as high as the low second and as low as the high sixth. The talent's not in question. It's his maturity, as he had several off-the-field issues during his collegiate career. There was nothing criminal, which is why I'll opt to mock him to Houston if he's available in the fifth round. The Texans need to find a tag team partner for Earl Mitchell, especially if Mitchell doesn't re-sign, and Hughes has the athleticism and ability to get upfield that Phillips covets.
6th Round: Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy
6th Round Compensation: Mount Union wide receiver Jasper Collins
7th Round: New Mexico tight end Lucas Reed
I've talked about all three in my last mock. Here's a link to get more info, and I'll also provide a bit of info in this space, too.
Stacy has now been mocked to Houston, by me, four times. Clearly, I think he's an ideal fit. He's a hard, decisive runner who finishes and has been tested in the SEC. He's got brains, evidenced by getting admitted into Vandy, and he's a team captain. Houston lacks a third running back and Ben Tate is set to be a free agent after this season. This would be a great pick to round out the roster and prepare for the future.
Collins injects some much needed speed into the receiving corps and special teams units. His ability to double as a returner makes him more valuable to the Texans braintrust. I do think the Texans double-dip at receiver and, if this is the case, Houston should opt to find some speed.
Likewise, Reed remains my project tight end to groom. I do, like some, think Houston adds an athletic tight end to the roster, but I believe it'll be a project guy like Reed. I'm not sold on Houston adding a guy on day one or two like some others are. I think they'll lay the groundwork for 2014 in some of their later picks.
Most of my picks remain the same but, clearly, the bigger story would be Taylor, the second round trade, and the nose tackle. Thoughts, BRB faithful? Would a cornerback in the first round stun you? Could you see the rationale? Is a trade up possible? Would anyone be happy at trading up for Woods? Sound off below and put your name on some picks.