Before I get into the post-free agency mock draft for your Houston Texans, I want to address a common practice I see infiltrating the comment sections. It’s where people are designating a round for a position. I can understand wanting to rank needed positions by importance, but I don’t get why you’d want to slot them for the specific rounds.
The NFL Draft is not done by rating all prospects and picking the highest rated one when it’s your turn. That’s a far too linear approach. Instead, think about it as if it were this graph. You have four "big" factors to think about:
- Positional Value (Where does Prospect X rank against his peers and how much better is Prospect X than the guys behind him? Is Prospect X so much better at than the guys behind him at his position than Prospect Y is the guys behind him at another position? Will this talent be there the next time I get back on the clock?)
- Scheme Value (Do Prospect X‘s talents fit your scheme and playbook?)
- Organizational Value (Does Prospect X fit your culture based on interviews? Does he pass your medical exam? Is he what you want in the locker room and community? Does he come from a pipeline school?)
- Floor vs. Ceiling (How soon can this guy contribute? How much does he have to learn? Can he play special teams while he develops? Is he going to help me win now or help another coach win later?)
If you think about it in graphical terms, you certainly want to hit as close to the axis as possible on all your prospects. In other words, drafting isn’t a flat approach, nor can you think about it in a one-round vacuum.
As an example, if you lock onto wide receiver in round one, then you may draft a lesser receiver, miss out on someone who is much better at nose tackle, and then take a lesser nose tackle later on which effectively means you could have done two picks better. You have to be flexible in the draft, have multiple options, and remember it’s a seven-round fiasco. This is how you dominate the draft and overcome roster turnover.
I hope that lengthy diatribe changed some opinions on the draft. If not, some of you may not like what’s below the jump. As a warning, the prospect's round is taken based off of a mix of mock drafts to gain some idea as to when they could be taken.
I am starting to believe, for a few reasons, the first round pick will be Mercilus, USC’s Nick Perry, or even Marshall’s Vinny Curry. I don’t believe they’ll take the undersized and bad schematic fit in Baylor’s Kendall Wright or the raw Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech; neither is a fit for their drafting MO and there’s better value on receivers in rounds two and three. It also isn’t Houston’s MO to just let a young player, in this case Brooks Reed, have a starting job without having to earn it. Finally, I think it would be wise to invest in a third pass rusher to keep these high-motor guys rested.
Mercilus was nothing short of beastly in 2011. He racked up 22.5 tackles for a loss, 16 sacks, and nine forced fumbles using a myriad of pass rushing moves combined with his speed and strength. Yes, there are questions about him only having one dynamic season, but he’s got the tools to be a special pass rusher…so much so that some doubt he even makes it 26. If he does, Houston should snatch him up. If not, I would keep my eye on Vinny Curry.
2nd Round: California WR Marvin Jones
Hard work has paid off for Mr. Jones as he continued to raise his draft stock by having a superb Senior Bowl and following it up with a good Combine. Jones is a fluid route-runner with dependable hands and deceptive speed. He could thrive in the West Coast Offense opposite of Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter.
3rd Round: Alabama NT Josh Chapman
Houston needs an upgrade in the nose tackle rotation and this is a commonly mocked pick. Please, Rick, end our suffering. Chapman tore up the SEC and should be a force in the middle.
4th Round: Michigan C/G David Molk and Cincinnati ILB J.K. Schaffer
Don’t let the fourth round selections fool you. Molk is an accomplished center who took home the Big 10’s award for best offensive lineman and the nation’s award for best center. Schaffer is a stat-sheet machine who notched 114 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and six passes broken up. The problem is both are deemed two to three inches too short and 10-20 pounds too light of ideal size. Molk would work in the zone blocking scheme, which eschews size, while Schaffer could easy bulk up on a NFL training regimen.
Molk, who may or may not be able to step in as guard depth, also serves insurance in case Chris Myers gets hurt. The Texans, as we all hypothesized, likely do not have a back-up plan at center while they have Derek Newton at the swing tackle and either Antoine Caldwell or Shelley Smith at guard. Molk's too good of a fit in the scheme to pass on. Of course, that hinges on if the Texans can get him in the right round.
5th Round: Auburn OT Brandon Mosley
As we remember with Ben Tate, Auburn does run some zone-blocking scheme. Mosley, a former tight end, was Second-Team All-SEC at right tackle. He helped pave the way for Michael Dyer, but does need some work on his pass protection. The Texans do have three tackles that should take spots on the 53-man roster, but this is another case of adding competition to the roster. Plus, he could also get kicked inside which adds to the value.
6th Round: Nevada DE Brett Roy
I’ve touted Brett before and continue to do so now. Roy was disruptive at Nevada, has 3-4 DE size, and works out at the same gym that Brian Cushing was (tie to the team). He would improve the depth behind Antonio DeShonta Smith and Justin James Watt.
7th Round: Texas A&M K Randy Bullock
It is, admittedly, lazy to go off recent reports that Houston likes him, but this team needs a kicker unless Neil Rackers is re-signed. Houston won’t let it get chancey by letting him move into undrafted free agency.
Here are a few other names that wouldn’t surprise me if they were called in April: South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore, Boise State OLB Shea McClellin, Wisconsin WR Nick Toon, Iowa WR Marvin McNutt, TCU ILB Tank Carder, Wayne State OT Joe Long, and Arkansas WR Greg Childs.
Out of all of them, McClellan’s the most likely darkhorse candidate given his high-motor and versatility (could play WOLB, SOLB, and WILB). Long, brother of All-Pro Jake, is another intriguing right tackle prospect. If he returns to form, Childs could be a shrewd speedy pick, much safer than Stanford’s Chris Owusu.
That’s how free agency and trades have changed my Texans-centric mock. Am I way off base? On the money? In need of help? Sound off in the comments below.