Waaaay back in the infancy of me actually writing about the Texans instead of just watching them, I had some inspiration from one of John Sickels' pet projects: the shadow draft. Every year, he drafts along with the Minnesota Twins pick-for-pick in the MLB Draft. Seeing as how the NFL draft is both shorter and easier to "scout", this seemed like a no-brainer idea for me. So I did a second one. And here we are a year later, with you indulging me by reviewing it and pretending I am not an idiot.
1) No trading down. If I was running the draft board, the Texans would trade down a LOT. But considering the amount of hypotheticals you create by opening the door to fake trades, there is just way too much guesswork involved. If the Texans do happen to pull off a trade, I have to adjust my board to that.
2) I can't assume anyone the Texans picked will last to their next pick. It's just common sense.
3) On the other hand, I will assume that my hypothetical front office has gathered enough draft intelligence to know who will be coming off the board by the time our next pick happens. This is so I don't get stuck with overdrafts of guys that I like that came off the board later than I would have expected.
Let's see how we did this year! 2010 breakdown here.
1st Round, Pick 20
Texans pick: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
I picked: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
Lessee...in limited snaps, Williams dominated and became a true clogger in the middle, which is something the Texans have never had and are on pace to never have. He would ESPECIALLY look good in a 3-4 that the Texans are now playing.
Kareem Jackson, on the other hand, had one of the worst rookie seasons I can remember for a cornerback. The fact that the Texans let him start in the first place was a damning indictment on their front office. I will refrain from further comments so that I don't draw any late hit penalties.
Could the Jackson pick still work out? Sure. Am I betting on it? Nope. Would Williams have been better? Yes. Not that I'm bitter about it or anything.
Other picks that would have been better: Many, but let's stick with Dez Bryant and Devin McCourty for now.
Second Round, Pick 58
Texans pick: Ben Tate, RB, Auburn
I picked: Amari Spievey, CB, Iowa
Ben Tate was hurt in the first preseason game and never got on the field this year. Also, someone named Arian Foster happened. Now we're all thinking about the sage advice by our fearless leader to not draft a running back early. Hey, if we're gonna jump on his back for the Brian Cushing hate, we've got to give him some props when he's right.
To me, this pick came down to J.D. Walton, Spievey, and Morgan Burnett. Burnett looked really nice in limited time before having his own season-ending injury, and Walton started all 16 games as a rookie for the Broncos. I think we were all a little harsh on Chris Myers though, so Walton wouldn't have upgraded much.
Spievey started 9 games, appeared in 16, and had 2 INTs and 3 PDs. I'm still a fan of his, and I can sense the Glover Quin "solid-to-average" CB vibe from him, which is absolutely fine at this stage of the draft.
Other picks that would have been better: Brandon Spikes would look nice now that we're in a 3-4. Jared Veldheer for a developmental tackle? I guess second round is probably a bit high for that.
Third Round, Pick 81
Texans Pick: Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona
I picked: Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest
The jury is still very much out for both of these players. Mitchell was alright in his limited snaps last year, and the Leon Hall / Jonathan Joseph combo ensured that the Bengals didn't need to spend many actual snaps on Ghee. I would give the edge to Mitchell on playing time right now, although young cornerbacks can tend to take a few years.
That said, the idea of Earl Mitchell, starting nose tackle, is still frightening to me.
Other picks that would have been better: There were a lot of solid receivers that went between this pick and the Texans fourth-rounder. Mike Williams (TB version), Jordan Shipley, Tony Moeaki, Jimmy Graham. Colt McCoy would have been another way to go, although he'd have zero value right now because he wouldn't have started any games.
Fourth Round, Pick 102
Texans Pick: Darryl Sharpton, LB, Miami
I picked: Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia
Sharpton had an okay rookie year as a sub along the linebacker corps, though I'd say that how good he looked to us was partially a representation of how he wasn't Zac Diles, and thank goodness for that. Atkins was everything that Mitchell was supposed to be for the Texans. 16 games played, 3 sacks in very limited snaps. It's almost like Mitchell was overdrafted or something. Who would have thought?
If I sound bitter, it's only because a 25-year-old blogger is beating the Texans' scouting department badly through four picks.
Other picks that would have been better: Alterraun Verner had a nice rookie year, and Aaron Hernandez would have looked great for the Texans if he'd ever been able to get off the bench. Jacoby Ford returning kicks? Yes, please.
Fourth Round, Pick 118
Texans Pick: Garrett Graham, TE, Wisconsin
I picked: Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina
This wound up much like the Mitchell/Ghee debate. Neither player has played enough to get a good grasp of what they'll be able to do in the NFL yet. I hand myself partial bragging rights because Norwood would be a nice 3-4 rush OLB prospect and the last thing the Texans need is another tight end. If I had to pick one of those players now though, in a vacuum? Probably Graham.
Other picks that would have been better: Not many of the guys this late have had a chance to separate themselves yet. I guess if I had to pick one of them between this pick and the fifth rounder, I'd probably rather have O'Brien Schofield. Perrish Cox probably played the biggest early role for his team.
Fifth Round, Pick 144
Texans Pick: Sherrick McManis, CB, Northwestern
I picked: Matt Tennant, C, Boston College
Tennant couldn't get on the field over Saints center Jonathan Goodwin. McManis barely got on the field despite a secondary that made Libya look stable. While anecdotal evidence says Tennant at least got beaten out by good players, let's call this a draw for now.
Other picks that would have been better: Zoltan Mesko, Greg Hardy, maybe Austen Lane? Still really early for the late round picks, as I've said.
Sixth Round, Pick 187
Texans Pick: Shelley Smith, OG, Colorado State
I picked: Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas State
Neither player saw any playing time in the regular season. Using the anecdotal device above, I'd give the advantage to the Texans because their line is actually tough to crack.
Other picks that would have been better: James Starks?
Sixth Round, Pick 197
Texans Pick: Trindon Holliday, WR/KR, LSU
I picked: Dekoda Watson, OLB, Florida St.
Watson made it onto the field a few times for the Buccanneers last year, accumulating 15 tackles and a pass defensed in 15 games (1 start). Trindon Holliday can't catch a punt. I think I've got this one.
Other picks that would have been better: Marc Mariani, David Gettis, Cody Grimm.
Seventh Round, Pick 227
Texans Pick: Dorin Dickerson, WR, Pittsburgh
I picked: Patrick Stoudamire, CB, Western Illinois
Stoudamire was waived by the 49ers in training camp. Dickerson is still kicking it as a TE-to-WR conversion project. The Texans win for now, but I'd like to see Dickerson actually catch a few regular season balls before I get too excited.
Other picks that would have been better: Kavell Conner.
How are we looking BRB? I think my class has a pretty fair edge on the Texans through year one.