Speculation on the First Round Draft Selection

Ok, we had the first glaring question answered yesterday with the promotion of Frank Bush, and while I am still not happy with the organization for the interviewing process they conducted, the more time that passes since yesterday afternoon, the happier I am about Bush as the DC. 

Although he utilized the typical cliché overloaded coach speak in both his press conference and his interview on the Texans official site, there were several key phrases that he repeated over and over that I think had a deeper meaning.  He could not state enough how the squad was going to ATTACK and be AGGRESSIVE which I think was a message to fans and players because that is what they wanted to hear.  The two most interesting phrases to me, however, were “simplify” and “everyone on the same page”.  I really think that was his way of throwing Richard Smith’s terrible and elaborate coverage schemes under the bus.  The one thing that he made a point of saying that I really appreciated was putting the onus for the defense’s performance squarely on him.

Even though Kubiak and Bush wouldn’t comment on whether the Defense was going to be given the first pick in the draft, I think it’s obvious that everyone in the organization that the defense is getting the focus in the off season.  Obviously you can always improve the offense, but since it was 3rd overall and the defense has ranked in the 20’s each of the last three years, it doesn’t take a genius. 

So, since I am a Texans fan and a football geek, I have nothing to do but speculate on the draft until April.  Some people have beat me to the punch; Riott had a great comment under the Bush promotion announcement on trading down with our draft pick, and the HoustonDiehards have a great mock draft tracker for our pick on his site (thanks for not including the one where we take Sam Bradford).

Obviously there are a lot of things that are going to change between here and the draft.  The combine always raises and lowers players’ stock and all the juniors haven’t declared yet whether they are coming out or staying in school.  That being said, you can speculate on who certain teams will select.  Sometimes teams take players purely based on the “best talent on the board” theory, but for the most part their need(s) will determine their selection.

I’m not interested in putting another mock draft out there because for the most part I don’t care who selects who other than how it effects our pick.  Below I have annotated the projected needs of every team that picks before us, and the best and worst case scenario for their pick.

1.  Detroit:  Needs – QB, LB, CB.  Best Case – QB/Worst Case – One of the top LB’s on the board.  It would be bad for us if they picked a LB here because there are other teams between the Lions and us that are in need of a LB but if their guy isn’t there they might take a DB or DL.  I just don’t see Detroit passing on a QB here though because of need and the tradition of drafting QB’s with the first pick.

2.  St. Louis:  Needs – OL, MLB.  Best Case – OL/Worst Case – Another top LB.  I think the only way they take a LB here is if one of the top prospects has a ridiculous combine and shows he can do it all.  Otherwise I think they prepare for the impending Pace retirement and compensate for Alex Barron’s poor performance.

3.  Kansas City:  Needs – DE, QB, LB.  Best Case – QB/Worst Case – Brian Orakpo.  I hope and pray they take the second rated QB, but I don’t see them picking a QB this early because of the relatively good play of Thigpen.  I think they’ll take either Orakpo or maybe Aaron Curry here, preferably Curry for our purposes.

4.  Seattle:  Needs – WR, OT, QB.  Best Case – QB/Worst Case – WR.  The silver lining to KC not taking a QB is that I think Seattle would be tempted to take one based on Hasselbeck’s recent injury history and Papa Holmgren leaving.  I think they end up taking Crabtree here, which I put as worst case because I think the general consensus is that there are only two WR’s worth taking early, Crabtree and Maclin.  The longer they stay on the board, the better the chance that we get lucky and some team decides they can’t pass on the sexy, fan favorite pick instead of taking the defensive player they need (i.e. Washington who has a history of terrible draft picks and drafted two terrible WR’s last year) or we can convince a team that drafts after us to trade up for Maclin if he’s still there.

5.  Cleveland:  Needs – OLB, S, RB.  Best Case – RB/Worst Case – S.  I don’t see Cleveland picking anything but a LB here.  Mangini and Ryan both love them some LB’s, especially to put their stamp on Cleveland’s D that only tallied 17 sacks last season.  I don’t see it happening, but it would be sweet if Moreno had a lights out combine and they felt they could not pass on him here, especially because it would put Tampa and Arizona in competition for Beanie Wells, therefore maybe another taker to trade our pick.

6.  Cincinnati:  Needs – OL, DE.  Best Case – C/G Hybrid/Worst Case – DE.  The Bengals need a lot of help on the O Line and after the injury plagued year that Palmer had, I don’t see them going any other way.  I read a good article about how it wouldn’t be crazy for them to take an interior O lineman this early because all of the beast nose tackles in the AFC North.  While I don’t agree with that, it would make me very happy.

7.  Oakland:  Needs – OT, WR, DT.  Best Case – OL/Worst Case – DT.  The Raiders are always a wild card when it comes to the draft because Al Davis is crazy.  He loves to take the sexy pick on the skill position, so I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Maclin go here, although I hope it’s a OT because that position is somewhat deep in this draft.

8.  Jacksonville:  Needs – OL, WR, RB.  Best Case – RB/Worst Case – OL.  This is the first pick that I actually really care about since we play in their division.  I hope they are stupid and waste a pick here, but I see them going with an O lineman.  The rest of the AFC South teams have dominant DE’s that ate them for lunch this year, and they live and die by the run.  It would be really nice if for some reason there was still a franchise OT on the board by the next pick.

9.  Green Bay:  Needs – DL, OT, DB.  Best Case – OT/Worst Case – DL.  I hope they’re enticed by some OT still left on the board, but I see them taking a D lineman here.  I fear that this and the next few picks are where we really start seeing our prospects come off the board.

10.  San Francisco:  Needs – OT, QB, FS.  Best Case – QB/Worst Case – FS.  I hate this pick.  I would love to talk about how Shaun Hill isn’t the guy, or their line was terrible, but the fact is that Singletary is in control now so it’s all about D.  Considering that their starting FS hasn’t forced a turnover since 2006 and he’s 32, this is where I see William Moore coming off the board.  With Mays deciding to stay at USC, that’s bad.

11.  Buffalo:  Needs – OLB, DE, TE.  Best Case – TE/Worst Case – DE.  I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll see another DE off the board here, maybe Everette Brown.  They really need a TE to help their run oriented offense with 3rd downs, but this is too early to take Brandon Pettigrew.

12.  Denver:  Needs – DE, DT, S.  Best Case - ????/Worst Case – DT.  This picks sucks for us.  After taking Clady and Royal last year, their offense is pretty set.  The reason I say worst case is DT for us is because I don’t think Moore will be there when we draft and I think he’s the only S worth taking that early.  Depending on the worst cases listed above, the same might be said for DE.  I really hope they don’t take Raji here.

13.  Washington:  Needs – DL, OL, OLB.  Best Case – OL/Worst Case – DL.  Washington is a wild card because their G.M. is absolutely terrible at drafting.  I hope they decide to go with OL help here, which is actually smart considering how terrible their offense was.

14.  New Orleans:  Needs – S, CB, OLB.  Best Case – OLB/Worst Case – CB.  Yet another pick that is causing me pain.  They are in the same boat that we are, except that they need more help at LB as opposed to our need for DL.  For some reason I think they’ll end up with either Vontae Davis or Malcom Jenkins.

So that leads us to our pick.  Adding up all the best case scenarios we are left with maybe one of the top rated DE’s still on the board, William Moore, and a top rated CB still left at 15.  Worst case is there is a run on defensive players and we are left with no one really worth drafting that early.  I think that either way I believe as Riott does that the smartest play is to try and trade down.  I think the most likely takers are either Arizona to jump ahead of Tampa if the RB they like is still on the board, or possibly a team that needs a WR if Maclin is still there.