As expected, there’s still a boatload of talent available at the top of the second round for the Houston Texans. In fact, I would wager that there are as many as nine or ten different possible scenarios that can play out at the top of the second round. With so many good players still on the board and so many needs to fill on the Texans' roster, this might be one of the most wide open picks in the entire draft. Here are a few options for Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith, as I see them:
Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame
The fact that Houston will be in nickel so often (as much as 70%, according to Bill O’Brien) means that the importance of having a good nose tackle is rather mitigated at this point. However, for the 30% of snaps that the Texans are in base, it would sure help to have someone who can dominate the point of attack in the middle of the offensive line and force teams to try to handle J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney with single blockers (good luck). Not only that, but I would not be surprised to see a nose tackle like Nix take some snaps in nickel packages against teams that like to have three wide receivers on the field regardless of down and distance. Having that extra beef on the field to eat up blocks from offenses that run the ball from shotgun would be an immense help to Brian Cushing and whatever linebacker lines up beside him next season. I certainly wouldn’t be upset at this pick, even if it isn’t what I personally would do.
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt at the 33rd overall pick would be an absurd value in my opinion. If his 2013 campaign was not plagued by injuries, and if a healthy Tuitt replicated his dominance from 2012, he would have been off the board in the first ten picks. Despite having nearly 35 inch arms, Tuitt was able to rep out 31 on the bench at the combine. Put that together with his 6’5", 304 pound frame and uncanny quickness (again, when healthy) and you have yourself a carbon copy of Muhammad Wilkerson. He still plays a bit too high and could stand to polish himself as a pass rusher, but the raw potential here is salivating. I would not only be fine with this pick, I would applaud it.
Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, Minnesota
Hageman is an even better athlete than Tuitt, though he too could use a lot of polish. 6’6", 310 pounds with just over 34 inch arms and 32 reps on the bench is impressive, but not as impressive as his 35.5 inch vertical and 9’6" broad jump, which are both incredible for someone over 300 pounds. That raw explosive power here is evident, and I would not fault the Texans one bit for trying to mold Hageman into a monster in between J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
One of my personal favorite players in this entire draft, Chris Borland can flat out hit people. He may not be the biggest or fastest linebacker in the world, but when you need someone to make a play in a critical moment, Borland is usually the guy to do it. Wisconsin has never done the Texans wrong. Why stop the pipeline now?
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
I honestly did not expect Xavier Su’a-Filo to even be available in the second round, so this is a nice surprise for me. The former Bruin would be an immediate plug-and-play option at left guard next to Duane Brown, and I think he would be a critical component to the development of whatever quarterback(s) the Texans acquire in the next two days. The best gift a young passer can get is a clean pocket, and Su’a-Filo can give it to him.
Joel Bitonio, OT/OG, Nevada
Another offensive lineman I was not anticipating to be around at 33, Joel Bitonio could be a good option at both left guard and right tackle if the Texans are not seeing anything encouraging from Brennan Williams’ rehab. David Quessenberry is my bet to be the starter at right tackle next season at this point in time, but Bitonio might be the better option. You can never enough pass protection after all.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
In my opinion, Carlos Hyde is one of the 20 best players in this entire draft class. His combination of power, speed, quickness, and receiving ability is second to none in this crop, and I think he can be an immediate impact player for any team that drafts him. Arian Foster and Andre Brown are currently slated to the one-two backfield punch next season, but neither one of them has been able to stay healthy for a few years. Brown’s deal is only for one year, and Arian Foster’s contract might start looking a little untenable if he has yet another season filled with injuries. Hyde can do work as a short yardage back, as a rotational runner to keep Foster fresh, and possibly even as the lead dog if something happens to Foster (again). This pick might be panned at first, but in a couple years I suspect Texans fans would be pretty damn thankful for it.
Literally any quarterback
Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray, Jimmy Garropolo, Tom Savage, A.J. McCarron, Tajh Boyd, Logan Thomas…pick a passer, any passer, and he’s probably been in consideration for the second round at some point in time (except Derek Carr).
Something tells me a team tries to move up to 33 to jump Oakland for the rights to Derek Carr (I’m looking at you, Tampa Bay). If a miniature bidding war kicks up between Oakland, Tampa, and possibly another team we don’t even know about yet, Houston could pick up some really nice compensation for a player they don’t even want. Even further down the rabbit hole of speculation, if Bill O’Brien manages to pry a third rounder from a desperate team that wants a quarterback, would they then use that extra third to trade for Ryan Mallett? You’ll never catch me complaining about getting a quarterback for free. Keep an eye on this scenario as the day goes on. We might be in for something weird.
Knowing my luck with predicting the Texans, not a single one of these players will be picked. I don't even know why I try anymore. I might as well go out and buy my Garrett Gilbert jersey already.