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Is This Coaching Staff Really Interested In "Project Players" In The First Round?

With just a couple of days until a bunch of idiot Jets fans try to take over Radio Music City Hall in New York for the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the rumor mill is taking off with "insiders" who claim to know of deals that are "on the table."

Of course, most of it is Peter King-like rhetoric that offer things like "The Dolphins really want to trade up or stand pat. But I'm hearing they could trade down." Way to be specific, guy.

Ever since King ran his mouth about how much the Texans like Patrick Peterson, a large chunk of the fanbase has been blowing up Twitter and local sports radio about that or the pipe dream of trading up for Von Miller. But there are very minimal actual reputable sources out there saying anything about the Texans making a move, be it up or down. The direction they're planning on going with pick #11 seems to be beyond the shadow of a doubt. Let's take a look at some of these conclusions after the jump.

Even though Judge Nelson lifted the NFL Lockout last night, there still can be no free agency before the injunction ruling, so not a whole lot has changed in regards to which way Houston is likely thinking for the draft. They will assuredly be drafting based on need, which is defense, obviously.

The name that seems to be synonymous with the words "Houston Texans" and "# 11" in most mock drafts is Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith. By now, most know I'm personally not a fan of that move were it made. We all know the reasons why this isn't a popular pick amongst most Texans fans, but a handful of sources claim that this is going to be Wade Phillips' pick and that Aldon is "his kind of player." Like I said yesterday in the draft conversation in the Comments section of the latest podcast, I'm not totally against Aldon Smith. I'm just against him at #11 overall. Tuly, it all comes down to who is still available. If they decide to take Smith over someone like Robert Quinn, I would actually be surprised. Even more so than when they selected Kareem Jackson over Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty last year. It wouldn't be the first time the team surprised me.

There are three players in this draft that are being called "first round talent, project players." Aldon Smith is one of them, while J.J. Watt and Ryan Kerrigan are the other two. I've seen all three of those guys mocked to the Texans several times. Watt, I could see, because his stock has been rising for some time now and I wouldn't be that shocked if he was taken before Houston goes on the clock just off his potential alone. I've seen him mocked to the Cowboys a handful of times.  Houston taking him, should he be available, wouldn't make my stomach hurt as much as if we took Smith, but I wouldn't exactly be ecstatic about it. As for Ryan Kerrigan...meh. I couldn't think of anything more underwhelming at #11 overall.

Then we got the statement from the mothership yesterday where Rick Smith said the team would not be opposed to taking an offensive player in the first if he was at the top of their draft board. This comment got the Julio Jones bandwagon chugging along once again. In turn, this caused heart palpitations to a certain Texans blogger. File that one under "believe when I see it."

Everyone knows the Texans will be going defense in the first round. They always do, right? Well, honestly, when was the last time the Texans made the draft decision everyone thought they were going to? Reggie Bush? Ryan Mathews? It doesn't always go the way that the media, whether national or local, says it will. This brings me back to the seemingly foregone conclusion that Aldon Smith will be a Texan this Thursday night.

With a coaching staff that is on the hot seat, you would think that they are looking to make a "safe" pick here. Would they really take a so-called "project player" here? They don't have two or three years to wait for a guy to reach his full potential, do they?

Wade probably knows he will get to stay in 2012 regardless of what happens to Kubes. There is no way that the defense doesn't improve somewhat in 2011. It just has to, even if by sheer dumb luck alone. And if this pick really is going to be solely made by him on Thursday night, I could see him taking one of the aforementioned "first round talent, project players."

In the end, any defensive help is going to be a welcome addition. And perhaps Wade is able to turn Aldon Smith into the next DeMarcus Ware. You never know. But I'm still not sure the team passes on Prince Amukamara if he does indeed slip to them. Saying they're hesitant to pick a first round corner after the Kareempocalypse from last year is just crazy to me. They still need help there and, quite simply, Prince is a better prospect than Kareem ever was. It also makes Glover Quin's transition to safety a much faster process. If Robert Quinn is off the board, Prince has my endorsement (sorry, AllenOU), even if he doesn't end up getting the same from the Son of Bum.