The 2015 NFL Draft is over, which means that draft grades are starting to pour in. Here is how the general media interpreted Houston’s draft haul over the last three days.
Mocking The Draft
1 (16). Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
2 (43). Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
3 (70). Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
5 (175). Keith Mumphery, WR, Michigan State
6 (211). Reshard Cliett, OLB, South Florida
6 (216). Christian Covington, DE, Rice
7 (235). Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU
Best pick: Strong - If he's healthy, Strong profiles at worst as a very good No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL.
Questionable pick: Mumphery - It's hard to be too down on a fifth-round receiver, but Tre McBride is a player who I had a much higher grade on.
With Andre Johnson leaving in free agency, the Texans had to address wide receiver and smartly did so adding Strong and Mumphrey. Strong is particularly intriguing. Some injury issues pushed him down in the draft, but he has first round talent. Johnson and McKinney should be ready to go as rookies and take over spots in the starting lineup. The late addition of Covington is one of my favorite sixth-round picks in the draft. If he's healthy he can be disruptive up front.
Overall grade: B
Best Pick: Getting receiver Jaelen Strong in the third round is great value. He had first-round ability. He is big and strong and faster than people think.
Questionable move: They didn't take an edge rusher until the sixth round and they have some injury concerns at that position with Jadaveon Clowney.
Third-day gem: Seventh-round running back Kenny Hilliard flashed at times at LSU, so he's worth a look in the later rounds. You never know with a back.
Analysis: I like the pick of corner Kevin Johnson in the first round to help solidify that spot and Bernardrick McKinney helps fill a need at inside linebacker in the second round. Strong could be a real steal.
Loved the work Houston did in rounds 1-3, for the most part. Kevin Johnson is a plug-and-play cornerback, and he buys the Texans wiggle room as Johnathan Joseph heads toward free agency next off-season. Benardrick McKinney is an intimidating presence at inside linebacker, which was a position of need. One nitpick: The Texans really could have used some coverage help next to Brian Cushing, and that's where McKinney is at his worst. Getting wide receiver Jaelen Strong at 70 was robbery. He will not catch 85 passes, as Andre Johnson did in 2014, but he should fly past Johnson's three-touchdown total.
Michigan State receiver Keith Mumphrey and Rice defensive tackle Christian Covington both fall in the "underrated" category here. It will be tough for either to make the final 53-man roster, but both guys will go down swinging if they fall short.
Day 1 grade: B
Day 2 grade: B+
Day 3 grade: D
Overall grade: C-
The skinny: Johnson might be the most well-rounded cornerback prospect in the draft and certainly will boost a defense that has to contend with several potent offensive weapons in the division. McKinney will be a solid fit in the middle of the team's defense and can really help shut down opposing run games, but he has issues in coverage, and the Texans might have given up too much -- a fourth- and sixth-round pick -- in order to move up for a questionable player. At least they wound up getting a steal in Strong, who will be a perfect Andre Johnson replacement. If healthy, Covington could wind up being a tremendous value in the sixth round as a rotation player who can make flash plays.
Bottom line: Johnson can start early on, and landing Strong was a steal. Beyond that? Not great.
Top needs: WR, ILB, OLB, QB
Overall Grade: B
The continuing question around the Texans is whether they'll get enough out of the QB position to help elevate the good roster-building they've done elsewhere, but it's not like there was a starting QB play to be found in this draft for them, and they did a good job of continuing to strengthen the roster beyond that position. Kevin Johnson is a bit lean, but everything else is there, and I know some teams had him graded as the best cornerback in the draft. Benardrick McKinney is the thumper they needed at inside linebacker, but I had both Eric Kendricks and Denzel Perryman rated higher. That's a situation in which you're looking for specific traits, and McKinney really makes his money tackling against the run. I probably had Jaelen Strong higher than most, given the way he dropped on the board -- I saw him as a possible Round 1 pick -- but I still see getting him in Round 3 as a potential steal, and having both him and DeAndre Hopkins on the field provides a lot of big-play ability. Strong can make the contested catch.
Overall, these grades are not too bad (B, B+, A-,C-, and a B). The general consensus seemed to be that the Texans nailed the first two days – in particular stealing Jaelen Strong in the third round – but that their work on the third day was less than inspiring. Considering that Houston’s 2014 class was seen as a resounding success only to provide little (if any) impact in their rookie years, I will reserve my own judgment until the confetti starts falling next February.
What are your grades for this year’s haul? Sound off below.