After months of watching highlight videos, reading the latest mock drafts, and seeing 22 year olds run really fast in Under Armor, the culmination is finally here. The days have slowly passed, but tonight, the 2013 NFL Draft takes place. Your esteemed "experts'" picks for what Houston does in the first round arebelow. Just remember that we, like you and everyone else, really don't know anything about what is going to occur tonight.
I'm going all-in with the Gambler's Fallacy. The Texans haven't chosen a first round receiver since they did so in 2003 with Andre Johnson. That's ten years! They're due! Welcome to Houston, Justin Hunter!
Before we get to who it will be, let's talk about who/what it won't be.
It won't be a wide receiver. Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, all the other first round names you dream of coming to Houston...they'll be snapped up by other teams before Houston goes on the clock. I think Houston addresses WR in the second, perhaps the third, round. I hope that receiver's name is Robert Woods, which would almost surely require Smithiak trading up in the second. I'm not convinced that'll happen, so I'm bracing for a different wideout at the bottom of the second round.
For the record, if the Texans do take a WR in the first, I've begun to believe it'll be Justin Hunter...assuming he's even still there. The Texans drafting Hunter at No. 27 would not be as much of a shock as DeVier Posey was to me last year. Nevertheless, my money's on the first round wide receiver drought continuing.
It won't be an inside linebacker. Arthur Brown love aside (he'll be gone before the Texans go on the clock anyway), I don't foresee the Texans spending a first rounder on a guy who won't be a three down player in the middle. Brian Cushing is that guy, so ILB is a position they'll work to fill later in the draft.
It won't be a quarterback. For the record, I would applaud the selection of Matt Barkley at No. 27 or in the second round (though I have a hard time seeing him getting past Jacksonville in the second at the absolute latest, unless Jacksonville takes Geno Smith at No. 2 overall). There's no legitimate chance Barkley will be a Texan, of course. The Texans are committed to Matt Schaub for at least two more seasons, and they believe (rightfully, I might add) that they can get a guy who'll impact the team more forcefully and more rapidly in the short-term in 2013. If the team takes a QB this year, it won't be until the third round or later, and my money's on them not drafting a QB until 2014.
So who will it be? It'll be someone who hasn't been on our collective radar as a potential Texan. It'll be a pass rusher. You can never have too many of 'em, and I think this guy could be a monster in Wade's system. With the 27th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, your Houston Texans will select Alex Okafor (OLB--Texas).
Every year the Texans' first round pick seems more and more impossible to predict, and this year is no exception. I count no less than seven positions that make sense and over a dozen prospects that may or may not be there at #27.
I'm going to circle all the way back around to my original draft crush and prediction from three months ago and say Arthur Brown. Minnesota seems like a lock to select the Kansas State linebacker at either 23rd or 25th overall, but from what I am hearing, there is a relatively good chance that they either (A) continue the Notre Dame pipeline and take Manti Te'o instead (their front office is apparently in love with him both as a player and for how he handled the media spot light these past few months) or (B) completely ignore linebacker all together and target a receiver and cornerback in the first round (D.J. Hayden would be my best guess for corner).
I can see no better ending to this long draft journey on BRB than to finish where we all began, with Arthur Brown in battle red.
I would love to stick with DeAndre Hopkins, as I said back in the beginning of this process, but the world caught on. I would also like to stick with Jamar Taylor, but I've come back around to the guy I had between them: USC's Robert Woods. He's got three years of experience in the West Coast offense. He's got three years of top-notch production. He's got the hands and route-running ability that Rick Smith looks for, and I think he best projects into this offense. His learning curve will be short, which will let him refine his game faster than any of the other rookies.
Caveat A: I have paid little attention to pre-draft rumor mongering. Caveat B: I refuse to wishcast this pick as somebody I want it to be.
With the 27th pick, the Texans select Margus Hunt (DE--SMU).
Unless, somehow, somebody we're excited about slides to 27, I believe Rick Smith will trade back and try to get an extra pick or two.
After all, the difference between the 27th and 42nd player, for example, isn't a huge leap. When you consider how many positions this team needs to fill - WR, TE, RT, NT, ILB, DE, OLB, S - we're far better off collecting talent at this stage.
If we do make a pick here, I've completely bought into MDC's argument we'll go the hard-working, "safe" route with Damontre Moore. That's not to say he'll be a bad pick, but he just seems like a Smithiak kind of guy. Hunt is also a strong possibility.
To say Houston has a hole at certain positions is to say one of the rooms in the house is not your favorite color. At every position they have someone serviceable but can use upgrades at various positions. The biggest need is WR, but every WR in this year's draft is about the same. Not one of them stands out as the best of the bunch and each are dark matter unknown quantities. If this was not the case, I would say Houston goes WR, but since they are all the same, I am hoping for a trade down to receive later round picks and turn more of these peach mustard yellow walls into peacock blue.
I am hoping we are able to take one of Woods/Patterson/Allen/Hunter in the second round and Markus Wheaton later in the draft. Then have a "Money in the Bank" match between the new rookies and Martin/Star/Posey (whenever he's healthy) to get the chance to play on the opposite side of the field from Dre. Those are only dreams, so my selection is Kevin Minter. Houston needs another ILB that can blitz the middle while athletic enough to play in coverage. He will also be insurance against the manifest destiny Sharpton injury. This pick will end all chances of Bradie James covering a TE again for the rest of my life, giving me a little bit more time before stressful white hairs start to sprout.
It's draft time? I guess I should probably start learning the names of some of these guys. I've never been much of a draftnik, but I seem to be even less prepared this year. Probably, some residual resentment from the whole Dan Persa fiasco.
First off, let's look at the Texans' biggest needs (in no particular order): WR, RG, NT, ILB, OLB, S. I guess you could put QB in there, but let's be real here. I could see them potentially looking at DE as well, but I think that will be prioritized lower as I have big dreams for Jared Crick this year and hopefully Tim Jamison can get back to pre-injury form.
Not knowing much about the prospects, I think we can rule out NT and S here as it's just not the team's MO to select one of those in round 1. I also struggle to see them picking RG or WR unless there's a prospect Smith loves more than Kubiak loves Kevin Walter (not that I wouldn't love to see them address RG). That leaves ILB and OLB as the most likely positions. Of those, I'm going to totally base my decision based on the writings of my colleagues here, and go with Arthur Brown. Brett is a good salesman.
What I think they will do? Damontre Moore.
I'd really like to see DeAndre Hopkins line up opposite Andre next year, but since my picks are never accurate, I won't pick him (not to mention he'll probably be gone anyway).
With Andre saying he'd like the Texans to draft a WR, like any sane Texans fan would want, I think they will do so. But since he didn't say in the first round, and because of the natural cussedness of all things in this world, I'm going to say they draft Datone Jones out of UCLA with the 27th pick.
Drop your guesses below.