The first thing that I asked myself this morning was, “What happened?” I wasn’t asking myself that question because I was lying next to something I shouldn’t have been, and it wasn’t because of a curious injury that I didn’t know the cause of. It was because of Day One of the 2009 NFL Draft.
I’ve spent the last couple of hours thinking yesterday’s proceedings over, and I have some thoughts. My first thought was, “I wonder if cyanide really is tasteless.” But that thought quickly passed. Once I really started analyzing things though, I felt better. I promise this won’t be a complete homer-esque “The Texans can do no wrong and I will rationalize everything away” post; rather, it will be an honest look at the 15th and 46th overall picks of yesterday’s draft.
15th Pick – Brian Cushing/OLB/USC
We really set ourselves up for failure with this pick. Our first desire which was to trade down obviously wasn’t possible because the only team that was able to do so in the teens was the Cleveland Browns, who twice only received a 6th round selection for moving down. So Houston was stuck at 15.
Most people didn’t want Cushing, myself included. I won’t reiterate why because I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t trash the newest member of the Texans unless he gave me a reason to with his play on the field. Cushing is great against the run, which is something that we need. He also has extensive experience rushing the passer from his time in the Elephant position in USC’s pro-style defense.
Many people yesterday repeated the mantra of “In Smithiak We Trust” to comfort themselves, but there’s another guy that I put my confidence in to justify this pick--Frank Bush. If anyone knows what LBs will be a good fit for our system it’s Bush, whose coaching specialty has been LBs for several years after he himself played the position. Bush felt confident enough in Cushing’s ability to step in and play from day one of the 2009 NFL season, as evidenced by utilizing his first ever pick as a defensive coordinator.
Speaking of Smithiak, I do trust that they did their due diligence in investigating injuries that were reported to be caused by steroids. That’s the only thing that still gives me pause for feeling good about this pick. If Cushing can stay healthy though, he will be an immediate upgrade at SLB and allow Zac Diles and Xavier Adibi to stay fresh and hopefully injury-free themselves.
I’m not saying that I think the Cushing pick was perfect, but I don’t think it was the end of the world either. Additionally, the whole “He didn’t seem enthused to play in Houston” argument is a little unfair in my opinion. NFLN will air a draft profile of Cushing on Tuesday which I will watch and post about, and if he really was bummed about us picking him, it will show there.
46th Pick – Connor Barwin/DE/Cincinnati
The more I think about this pick, the more I love it. Look at the results for drills at the Combine, and there is one name you continuously see at the top of those lists--Connor Barwin. As opposed to other physically gifted athletes on those lists like Michael Johnson and Lawrence Sidbury, Barwin has been lauded for his non-stop motor and incredible work ethic.
Barwin also has the intelligence to learn what coaches need him to, and will be a great addition to our locker room. If we need him to play OLB instead of DE, he has both the physical gifts and intellect to do so. Also, don’t overlook the fact that Barwin had 400 yards receiving as a TE in 2007, and was also a walk-on power forward on the Bearcats basketball team.
Barwin was a steal halfway through round two, especially considering he was being considered in the end of the first round by teams like Miami and New England. Granted, those teams run a 3-4, but as much as I hate Belichick, he and Parcells are draft geniuses so I don’t mind taking a player they both like. I like this pick so much that I’m seriously considering a purchase of a new steel blue Barwin jersey.