As I start to write this, it is 71 days and 5 hours until the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft begins. With your Houston Texans not picking until 26th --- thanks to a little thing I like to call MAKING THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME --- they probably won't be on the clock until some time after 10pm CST. (Related: Starting the draft on a Thursday night remains a stupid idea that I hate very much.)
While we (read: Tim) have linked to various mock drafts, I figured midway through February, a mere eight days prior to the start of the NFL Combine, was as good a time as any to compile all of the mocks into one post. Then, we can do the same thing again post-Combine and maybe once or twice more as late April nears. It's like a time-capsule for people with ADD!
Also, If you know of any decent mocks that I have missed, please add them in the comments with a link and the name of the player currently predicted to go to Houston. Now, onward! Let us review mock drafts in a non-mocking (for the most part) way!
1. ESPN.com's Mel Kiper, Jr. (In$ider):
DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State University. The hairdo's draft has a run on DTs at this point, with Dontari Poe (Memphis) going to Pittsburgh at 24 and Devon Still (Penn State) going to Denver at 25. At 6-3/305, Worthy certainly fits the Phillips mold, but I remain doubtful that the Texans would take a NT with the first pick. What's that saying, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me every single year until I start to hate myself, shame on me"? Something like that.
Choice quote: "He has a really good burst for his size, allowing him to penetrate and be really disruptive against both the run and the pass."
2. ESPN.com's Todd McShay (In$ider):
TE Coby Fleener, Stanford. Wow, two mocks in and I already have a WTF?! moment. Ignoring (a) that the Texans still have Owen Daniels and James Casey (and Garrett Graham, sorta) and (b) that the Texans have much more pressing needs than a second TE (even one who is 6-6/255), I still would hate this pick. I'd rather have Dwayne Allen (Clemson) if we're talking first-round TEs, and I'd rather have Michael Egnew (Missouri) in the late 3rd simply for the cost-benefit side of things.
Overall, McShay has only Fleener and Allen as first-round TEs, with Allen going to the New York Giants at 32.
Choice quote: "He could draw some attention to the middle away from Johnson, and with a deep wideout class Houston could find a quality receiver in the next couple of rounds."
3. Walter Football:
WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina. The polarizing Jeffery is one of the most popular (and, of course, unpopular) names among people discussing possible draft picks for the Texans. In the pro-Alshon group, you have people like Rivers arguing that Jeffery's upside is the type of thing that you should take a gamble on in the first round if you are dead set on taking a WR. In the anti-Alshon camp, TexansDC's argument about Jeffery not being a good system fit is oft-repeated (as are fat jokes). Personally, I'm not a huge fan of taking a first-round WR this year, as I would much rather angle for Nick Toon (Wisconsin) in the second.
Walter's mock has Jeffery as the fourth WR off the board after Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) to St. Louis at 4 (via trade), Kendall Wright (Baylor) to Jacksonville at 7, and Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) to Chicago at 19.
Choice quote: "How long is Gary Kubiak going to make us fantasy football owners suffer through Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones?"
WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech. I have not previously seen the 6-5/206 deep threat penciled in for Houston. I don't hate it. I also don't know if I like it. Mainly, I think I'm just opposed to a first-round WR this year barring something totally unforeseen.
Bunting has Hill coming off the board fourth among WRs after Blackmon (Minnesota at 3), Floyd (Chicago at 19), and Wright (Cleveland at 22, via last year's trade with Atlanta). He also has Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers) going 30th to San Francisco and Jeffery falling out of the first round.
Choice quote: "Hill is going to need to become a more consistent route runner."
WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina. This one was already discussed here at BRB.
Overall, Jeffery is the fourth WR in the MTD first round after Blackmon at 10 to Buffalo (zuh?!), Wright at 19 to Chicago, and Floyd at 22 to Cleveland.
Choice quote: "Many want to poke fun at his weight, but Jeffery displays solid burst and athleticism to go with his ideal size and ball skills."
WR Rueben Randle, LSU. As a general rule, I don't like players named after sandwiches. I mean, I can't think of any others, but I am pretty sure I feel this way. As a more specific rule, I don't like any offensive players off this year's LSU team, at least not in the first round, though I could be punishing the entire group for the failings of Jordan Jefferson.
As discussed here, Lance has the 6-4/208 Randle as the fourth WR taken behind Blackmon (6-Washington), Wright (15-Philadelphia), and Floyd (19-Chicago).
Choice quote: "The Texans' biggest need is at WR and Randle has the size and speed that will intrigue Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith."
NT Dontari Poe, Memphis. I don't want to put too fine a point on things, but this pick arouses me. In my pants. My fan pants. Which are Zubaz print, as required by law.
Not that I think we'll take Poe (because we can't have nice things), but FF lists him as the first 3-4 NT off the board. Overall, two DTs --- Brockers and Still --- are drafted ahead of Poe in this mock.
Choice quote: "An anchor on the nose is key to any good 3-4 defense."
WR Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers. I've figured out what it is I don't like about Sanu: the fact that he went to Rutgers. What I mean is, all else being equal, when there are a bunch of WRs in the same range and you're trying to pick between them, give me the guy from the better football school. In the instant example, that would be Nick Toon, Michael Floyd, or Alshon Jeffery. Hell, I might even lump Juron Criner (Arizona) in there, but you get my point.
Draftek has Sanu as the fourth WR taken behind Blackmon, Floyd, and Wright.
Choice quote: "While Sanu lacks an elite timed speed, his quick burst off the line and out of cuts makes him a threat either outside or in the slot."
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame. Look, I fully admit that the 6-3/224 Floyd has a world of talent and could wind up being a gamebreaker. I just hate him. Not so much that I would be mad if they drafted him, but just enough that I would be relieved if he were taken earlier and it wasn't an option. I am far from rational. I know this.
Wright lists Floyd as the fourth of four first-round WRs behind Blackmon (6), Jeffery (19), and Wright (22).
Choice quote: "A big, physical wideout who is a terror in the redzone, Floyd may lack elite timed speed but he is able to make plays down the field by outmuscling and outleaping defensive backs."
WR Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Choice quote: "Sanu isn't an elite athlete but at 6-2, 215 pounds he has the frame head coach Gary Kubiak prefers at the position and has the strength to help as a downfield blocker."
WR Rueben Randle, LSU. You know earlier when I said I was opposed to players named after sandwiches? I am willing to ignore that rule for a real NT, even if his name is Monte Cristo. Randle ain't that.
Brugler thinks Randle will be the fourth WR taken behind Blackmon (Jacksonville), Wright (Chicago), and Floyd (Browns).
Choice quote: "While Arian Foster and the rushing offense picked up the slack, Johnson's absence exposed a need for more weapons at receiver."
12. The Sporting News:
WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina. This is getting repetitive. Also, echoing what others have said, the fact that the Texans are so closely tied to these specific WR names is making me think that none of these WRs is likely to be drafted by Houston at 26. Which kind of makes me happy.
TSN has Jeffery following Blackmon (2), Floyd (7), and Wright (20), with Criner (30) rounding out the first-round WRs.
Choice quote: "Jeffery has the size (6-4, 233), strength and rare ball skills to be an excellent complement to Johnson."
C Peter Konz, Wisconsin. This is based on the "if Chris Myers leaves" angle, but, hey, I salute TBL for at least considering things like that, if only to make the otherwise pointless act of mocking a draft interesting. In the situation where Myers is no longer a Texan, I really like Konz with this pick. Thing is, I don't think Konz falls to 26. Also, looking again at value, I'd rather have David Molk (Michigan) in the third over Konz in the first.
McIntyre has Konz as the only center in the first round and the seventh offensive lineman taken. Notably, he has the Texans taking Konz ahead of Sanu.
Choice quote: "Yes, there’s a big need at WR, but I think the big names fly off the board early and Alshon Jeffery’s weight gain pushes him way down the board."
WR Kendall Wright, Baylor. Ghandi once said, "Why don't you pull your head out of your ass and trying not being retarded for two seconds?" That's how I feel about this pick. No way are the Texans taking a sub-6-foot WR in the first round.
I don't care about how many other WRs they projected, nor should you care.
They have no quotes, which is somehow unsurprising.
DE/DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State. Despite the URL, it is not actually mine. Nevertheless, I like this pick. Cox (6-4/300) could play inside or outside in Wade Phillips' system, and he's the kind of penetrating, disruptive player that thrives in this scheme (14.5 TFL, 5 sacks in 2011).
They have Cox as the fourth DT taken behind Brockers (11), Still (24), and Poe (25).
No analysis is given, so there's nothing to quote from.
16. The New NFL Draft:
DT Devon Still, Penn State. I am unclear as to why this site thinks Still will slide to us, but I wouldn't hate it if he did. All the same, I'm not sold on Still as a great one-gap pass rusher in the NFL, and I think I'd rather have Cox or (swoon!) Poe if this beggar were to be choosy.
Honestly, the overuse of different fonts and the fact that the first round is broken up into a bunch of different pages keeps me from having any desire to see how many DTs were taken before Still. My guess is somewhere between 1 and 25.
Choice quote: "The Texans have a very good defense already right now. With that being said they don’t have the best interior defensive lineman."
17. New Sport Draft:
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame. I have no idea how this is a "new sport." I mean, we're not drafting Floyd in hopes that his psych-out abilities give us the edge over the Dallas Felons in the next Denslow Cup, are we?
If you think having the first round spread out over four pages makes me reticent to see how many other players were taken at a position, you should see how unlikely I am when the first four picks are all on separate pages.
No analysis after the first ten picks/pages.
18. Sideline Scholars:
OLB/DE Nick Perry, USC. Well, um . . . ok. Full disclosure: this mock has RG3 going first overall, and I fear the author might be on drugs.
OK, I was going to try to stretch this out to 20, but the rest that I've found all seem repetitive (Jeffery! Sanu!) or silly (Perry!). So I am going to stop here. Two questions for BRBtards:
1. Of the players listed in the above mock drafts, who do you like most and who do you like least?
2. Of the universe of players NOT mocked to the Texans in the above drafts, who would you most like to see the Texans take?