Houston Texans 2013 Rookies: The Eyeball Test

Ian Hitchcock

A different take on the NFL Draft. It's a longer read, so get ready to move your computer to the bathroom.

I am one of those people who believe you cannot root and should not seriously care for a college you did not attend. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, and, yes, I understand if you follow different principles than me. It's just one of those neurotic values that I follow, kind of like how I don't watch movies with Bradley Cooper on the screen. He seems like a sleazeball that would sleep with your mother when you stepped outside of the house to acquire a Blue Raspberry Icee and a Cliff Bar. Then, when you arrive home, he greets you with a sly O'Mally the Alley Cat smile as he eats ice cream straight from the carton while wearing your favorite t-shirt. No, I really don't care if Silver Linings Playbook is amazing and would be a movie I would totally love. It will never happen because of the slimy douchiness he oozes.

As a week-away-from-being-an-alumnus of Texas State University, college athletics is not very high on my priority list. At our games, the best part is the four hours before kickoff and the glorious mid-afternoon nap after the tailgate. Shotgun blasts are heard from Natty Lights, not cannons, at our football games. The program is starting to grow, and hopefully we will eventually have a New Mexico State-esque athletic department where people care more about the game than the Saturday night festivities. In addition to my rooting preferences, you don't even need to watch college football to know how the season will turn out. The University of Texas will be overrated, rules will be violated by any number of teams, the must-see game where Lee Corso wears a funny hat will be a blowout, and a SEC team will win it all. All of these reasons are a culmination of why I refuse to watch the nostalgia that is college football.

Thus, when draft time comes around, I am the hero from Fallout 3 stumbling out of Vault 101 into the radioactive landscape for the first time. I have no idea who Ziggy Ansah is, why Player X is a sleeper, or the leadership Player Y will bring into the huddle. All of the experts have no idea who will actually be an All-Pro caliber player. The only part of the draft they are good at is separating first round talent players from third rounders. For me, the fun of the NFL Draft does not start until the Monday after when I get to attempt to evaluate the haul that Houston has brought in. So how do I evaluate the new wave of Houston Texans? I use my own method of advanced metrics, which is simply called The Eyeball Test.

The Eyeball Test is just watching a couple of YouTube highlight videos on a player and forming an opinion. By combining this with college stats and Combine numbers, it actually leads to a pretty good first impression.

The test came into being in 2011 when Houston drafted that pizza boy J.J. Watt over the big name NCAA champion Nick Fairley. When Fairley fell down to us, I was sizzling with joy, then I swallowed deeply with sadness when Houston flicked the page past him. The group-think crawled into my mind in the weeks leading up to the draft that Fariley was a can't-miss run stopper the league has not seen since a pre-payday Albert Haynesworth. Like most of the population, I had no idea who this J.J. Watt fella was because I would rather go to church on Saturday or shopping with my old lady than watch Wisconsin play Northwestern. Right after the pick was made, I simply searched for J.J. Watt highlights into YouTube and The Eye Test was born.

J.J. Watt Highlights (via Jonathon Zenk)

Oh, my my I was impressed. In the video, you see Watt peel blocks off faster than skin after a 4th of July Lake LBJ trip. He relentlessly beats double teams, out runs Terrelle Pryor, and even throws him down with one arm. I had not seen a performance this astonishing since Air Bud escaped from the evil Russian circus manager's home and scored four touchdowns in a minute after arriving late to the 8th grade state championship. I feel terrible for some of the crap I made my parents sit through and am going to hate when the circle of life comes back around my way. After seeing this video and his freak combine numbers, I was already ready to start chiseling Watt's bust for Canton and call Shooter McGavin for his golden jacket. This clip has made me a believer in the almighty highlight video, and I now watch highlight videos and run the J.J. Watt Eyeball Test to form my opinions on Houston's rookie class.

DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver from Clemson University, Pick #27

Ultimate DeAndre Hopkins Highlights (NFL Draft 2013 - 27th Pick // Houston Texans) (via TheVikingsworld2011)

My first impression is DeAndre Hopkins is a mean, mean man. The only time I watched him play at all last year was the Chic-Fil-A Bowl, which played second fiddle to New Year's festivities. I had no idea he would become a Texan after dominating the game by catching 13 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. I love how he possesses every catch in traffic in the middle when he knows he's about to get trounced. Hopkins can go up and get it over corners even though he's only 6'1" with a 36-inch vertical. DeAndre is awesome after the catch since he doesn't dance and turns right up field. Hopkins is not the fastest player in the world either, since he ran a 4.57 40, but all of his peripherals compared to his performance proves that he is a natural receiver. Poop jokes aside, I am 100% on board with this pick and the Roddy White comparisons make me even more excited. If I could have the ten minuets back I have spent watching his highlight film and others I would not change a thing. The only question remains is if he will be the deep threat Houston has been starving for or will he be stuck in 12-yard purgatory with Andre Johnson? Matt Schaub better be greasing up his noodle in anticipation for the 2013 season.

D.J. Swearinger, Safety from the University of South Carolina, Pick #57

Ultimate D.J. Swearinger Highlights (NFL Draft 2013 - 57th Pick // Houston Texans) (via TheVikingsworld2011)

He looks like one of the Helghast from Killzone with his pitch black visor. Speaking of visors, every single person in the world looks more horrifying wearing a helmet like that. Even Nate Kaeding would look like a bad ass with one on. Swearinger is a wrecking ball that lives to hit and brings tenacity to every tackle. He plays with his ears back and looks extremely fast on the football field. As an instinctive tackler, he knows when he can bring the knockout hit and when to opt for a more successful leg tackle. That being said he needs to learn how to deliver these big hits legally at the NFL level. There are a couple of fine worthy helmet-to-helmet hits in the video, and those 15-yard penalties are killer. Hey, D.J., in the NFL they take your money, not your meal trades when you bruise someone's brain like that. Swearinger celebrates every time he makes a play and reminds me more and more of Houston great, and fellow Gamecock, Dunta Robinson. My hope is he plays special teams this year, lives under Ed Reed's wing until he learns the pro game, and Jungle Boi Swagg's ego starts to deflate. There is no doubt in my mind that he can ball, and I am glad he landed in a perfect situation to succeed. I like the pick, but it is filled with a couple of red minesweeper flags.

Brennan Williams, Offensive Tackle from the University of North Carolina, Pick #89

***Writer's note: Due to Bandwidth or someone unknown Internet reason there is a limit on the number of videos the page can handle. The link will be in the player's name for those who do not have a video embedded.***

There really needs to be more offensive line highlight videos on the Internet since offensive lineman are people, too. The position really is beautiful once you understand the nuances and poetry of five guys doing their job in unison. Since it is a shame the only video I can find on Williams is his game footage against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

I love how quick his pass set is during pass protection. Williams can kick back beautifully, but he guesses too much on where the defensive end is about to move instead of reacting. As a result, he gets beat by inside moves numerous times. His first punch is great, but the location is off. As an offensive lineman, you want to punch the numbers and not outside on the shoulders like Williams does throughout this game. When you do this, your hands are placed on the outside and you lose inside hand placement. Consequently, the offensive lineman loses the ability of having complete control of whoever you are blocking. Getting your hands on the defensive lineman's numbers constitutes the principle of legal holding and allows you to drive the defender like a steering wheel.

The other problem Williams has is throwing guys down instead of driving them in the run game or keeping them stalemated in pass protection. The outside hand placement and these throwdown blocks will translate to holding calls in the NFL. Also, he tends to have trouble in one on one run block situations. Despite these faults, Houston chose Williams because he is an excellent cut blocker, has fluid movement to the second level, quick feet, and has the frame to continue to grow. He is a project, but he is the prototypical zone scheme offensive lineman. Even though Derek Newton won't be back until training camp, I don't see Williams competing for the starting job yet and he is probably a year or two away from getting any significant playing time.

Sam Montgomery, DE from Louisiana State University, Pick #95

Monster. It is the only way to describe Montgomery's play, and there is no reason he should have fallen this far in the draft. He runs through people and never ever gives up on a play. Montgomery is continuously running and fighting through hordes of offensive lineman like a game of zombies in Call of Duty. He reads plays exceptionally well and never over-pursues or penetrates too far up field. The Sonic Assassin does an excellent job of reading his keys and staying in his gap. Montgomery tackles extremely well with great technique, and you will have a hard time finding any hit stick hits from him. He played against great competition as well in the AAA NFL, also known as the SEC, and I highly recommend you watch his game tape against Alabama and Georgia.

The only problems I saw is that Montgomery's get-off needs to improve. He has a slow reaction to the snap of the football and got beat up some by elite offensive lineman, like Chance Warmack. I hope he bulks up from 262 to around 280 for him to stay at defensive end because additional weight is needed for him to play every down as a pro-level defensive lineman. I am very intrigued to see what Wade does with him and what position he will place him at. The guy can play the five-technique, either as a replacement to the Ninja or opposite of Smith which would allow Watt to move down to the three-technique. I am hoping Wade leaves Montgomery at the DE position since he is a natural at playing it. Hopefully, Sonic Sam spends the summer studying at the Wudang Temple with Antonio Smith and the Furious Five. Yes, that is a Kung Fu Panda reference in case you were wondering.

Trevardo Williams, DE moving to Outside Linebacker from the University of Connecticut, Pick #124

He played DE at UConn, but at 6'1" and 241 pounds, Trevardo should become a situational pass rushing OLB with Houston. In college, Williams was a one-trick pony with his one-trick being he can run faster than an Tackle's pass set. Every play, his only job was to try to run around the OT, with a pocket full of shells, and get to the quarterback. You will not once, not ever see any rips, spins, swims, or rabbits being pulled out of a hat when he rushes the passer. The 4.57 40 and 40.5 sacks in his college career proves he was extremely good at his one-trick. The scary thing is that he will be even faster at the next level playing standing up rather than having is hand in the dirt.

The other problem is that he is an atrocious tackler when he gets there. There are a couple of sacks Williams misses in this game against Louisville because of poor tackling or his speed made him out of control when he got close to the QB. Right now, his skill are like buying a two-seat sports car when you need to take a family of eight out to dinner. OLB is a position in which you have to be multi-dimensional since you have to play coverage against TE/RB/Slot WR, set the edge to stop the run, and rush the passer. It will be interesting to see Williams develop more as a player and learn the ways of the Wade. Trevardo is about as rough as they come as a draft pick, but he is great at the one thing he does. I'm down with the pick because in the NFL you can never have enough pass rushers.

David Quessenberry, OT from San Jose State University, Pick #176

Also make sure to watch Quessenberry's game tape from BYU. He really stands out on the field, not only because SJSU has some wild helmets, but he is an enormous man at 6'5" and 302 pounds. I imagine Quessenberry canoeing with Grizzly Bears on the weekend and carrying entire trees like the woodsman from the Dr. Pepper 10 commercial.

Quessenberry does a great job with his hands in pass protection and punches guys right in the chest, unlike Williams. He moves to the second level very well on double teams and knows what to do when he arrives at linebackers. However, Quessenberry falls down way too much and plays on roller skates sometimes. This is the result of him over-reaching, taking long steps, and playing too high. He is 6'5", but he is going to need to become a hip bender to make it in the NFL. On top of this, Quessenberry, who only did 25 reps at the NFL Combine, needs to get stronger, and there were a couple of plays where defensive lineman ran right through him like Casper. I do like his size, effort, and he seems to know how to play the game. If Quessenberry lives in the weight room, with Strength Coach of the Year Cedric Smith, and becomes more flexible he could become a starter in the NFL. What Houston has on their hand is another Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks situation where one exceeds at an aspect of blocking that the other fails at. I wish him and Williams could fuse together like Gogeta and become the starting right tackle Houston needs.

Alan Bonner, WR from Jacksonville State University, Pick #195

The later round picks is when The Eyeball Test starts to fail when highlight videos become extinct like Blockbuster. However, Texans nation was fortunate to actually get in game footage of Bonner. Unlike most later round picks, where the best footage you can scrounge around for is Combine video or some team highlights where you squint at the screen and think, "Well, that might have been him right there," this highlight video is pretty awesome and displays everything Bonner can do. The only problem I had with it is the song lulls you to sleep and makes me think of doing the dishes, not college football. Then, it surprised me by jumping into the classic PSA.

The guy is like a road runner on the football field and looks like the fastest guy on the filed. He accelerates like a cannon ball out of his breaks and is not the type of player who only runs fast in a straight line. I am amazed by how well Bonner's able to run with the ball after the catch, especially considering the weak lame duck throws that arrive out of his QB's hand. Also, Bonner is not like the usual speed demons who have lackluster hands. He reels in every catch without a problem and even makes some Craig Gentry-like diving catches. Against Arkansas, Bonner was able to score touchdowns even one via a jet sweep where he out ran SEC players. The coaching staff at JSU was able to be creative and come up with multiple ways to utilize his speed in their offense. Kubiak needs to open his mind up, draw some plays for this kid and end his Coach Klein like writer's block.

At the Ohio Valley level, Bonner was simply unguardable by teleporting like Nightcrawler right by corners. The entire NFL should be in jubilation that New England did not take him. He is the Ohio Valley version of Wes Welker and nobody needs to see a reunification between those two. Before he was picked, I knew more about how to build a rocket ship than who he was as a football player. After watching the video, I know why Houston used a sixth rounder on this unknown guy that most thought would be an undrafted free agent entering the draft. Bonner can be one of the fastest players on the field and can open up an offense in the slot WR position. With Bonner, Houston should be hoping for a guy who can return kicks and punts better than Keshawn Martin with some sleeper potential in the slot.

Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle from the Bowling Green State University, Pick #198

BGSU has some awesome jerseys. If I were the Cleveland Browns I would be calling the designer to create me some sweet alternate "Battle Red" type threads. Brown Blaster maybe? This guy is a pleasure to watch since he never stops moving and is constantly fighting. Jones is like watching a stockier Sam Montgomery. Most of the plays he makes, Jones comes screaming from off camera to make a tackle. This is either a result of his high motor or some shoddy camera work by a grad assistant.

Jones does an incredible job shedding blocks and really knows how to penetrate. His smaller stature gives Jones leverage against bigger offensive lineman, and he really does a great job getting underneath their pads (watch the game film against Miami OH). Jones even forced six fumbles, recovered five and returned one for a touchdown as shown in the video. There really needs to be a blog/tumblr/website like hockeyfights.com that is devoted solely to defensive lineman attempting to run with the football. There is no better bull in a china shop moment in sports. Jones is a guy that settled for dominating the MAC (19 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 2012 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, and 44 straight games played) since he lacked the stereotypical size BCS schools want out of their DTs. He is simply a guy that knows how to play the game. It will be interesting to see what him and Bonner can do against tougher competition.

Ryan Griffin, Tight End from the University of Connecticut, Pick #201

Ryan Griffin 74 YD TD Catch (via Jared Nuss)

Well, that escalated quickly, but too bad this sort of play will probably never happen to him again in a Texan jersey. Griffin has the size Houston wants in a third TE at 6'6" 247 pounds. Everyone knew they would take one of these prototype blocking TEs late in the draft after James Casey took off to Philly. Look for him to attempt to fill Casey's shoes as the third TE that will be used primarily for blocking and maybe, just maybe, he will run routes in the red zone in goal line jumbo sets.

The NFL Draft, just like life in general, needs a couple of years to know if the decisions and choices made were any good at all. However, after completing The Eyeball Test, I am pumped for this new group of guys and can't wait to see them put on their new helmet adorned with a bull. This draft was like a scamper through your favorite park on a Friday afternoon while knowing the hoopla the weekend will be bring. Now, it's just a matter of time before we get to the hoopla that these rookies will bring on the weekend.

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