The NFL is a young man’s sport. The age of 30 has become an omen for athletes in the league, usually signaling the dusk of a player’s career. Each season brings a new crop of eager, athletic, and young players to replace the ones currently in the league. Teams are willing to take a chance on a young defensive back rather than carry the salary and injuries of an older safety or corner.
With regard to the Texans, Johnathan Joseph is 34 and entering his thirteenth season. Kareem Jackson is 30 and entering his eighth season. These two veterans have held down the cornerback position in Houston since 2011. Unfortunately, along with the rest of the secondary, their play was embarrassing by the end of the 2017 season. The only commendable play came from Andre Hal who accumulated 71 tackles, five passes defended, and three interceptions last year.
The Texans have so far signed three players to the secondary in free agency. Most notably, Tyrann Mathieu will bring a dynamic playmaking ability to the defense, but with a one-year contract, he is not a certain long-term solution. Aaron Colvin is a great nickel corner and wants to exhibit his ability to play on the outside this season; he should be one of the starting corners come preseason. Johnson Bademosi will be a special teams asset who could contribute to the secondary. These three DBs will inject some youth and athleticism to the roster, but more change is necessary.
My prediction? Either Kareem Jackson or Kevin Johnson will be traded in a package deal with two third round picks to move up in the 2018 NFL Draft to select an offensive tackle. For now though, we have three third round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Here are four guys the Texans should avoid if/when they go on the clock in the third round.
Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
NFL.com’s Five-Round mock draft has Meeks going 69th to the Giants, right after the Texans’ first pick in the third round. He has many attributes that you desire in a prospect: a 6’2” corner, started for two years at a major program, father was a defensive coordinator for the Colts when they won Super Bowl XLI. He also has five interceptions over the past two seasons. In his game film again Washington, I saw him unable to get a hand on a receiver and constantly drop into coverage rather than battle on the line of scrimmage. I also watched him surrender his body and position when facing blockers in run defense. His eleven bench press reps at the NFL Combine may reveal why he is hesitant to stuff wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. I love me a tall corner with experience, ball skills, and good tackling, but Meeks’ lack of athleticism and coverage deficiencies do not fit the Texans’ needs.
DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
Man, my friends are going to kill me for this. I usually am a supporter of all things burnt orange and white, but I watched Elliott got burned by wide receivers down the field too many times. He also got away with wide receivers dropping easy catches throughout his career. A solid centerfield safety, Elliott is physically ready for the NFL and is a hard-nosed athlete. He is a big hitter and set a tone for the University of Texas to regain its status as DBU. He has definitely progressed over the past three years in Austin.
Watch this highlight video - none of his interceptions are from Elliott actually making the play. The ball just ends up in his lap. Yes, he must be in the correct spot, but he rarely is cutting off routes or tricking QBs. Elliott needs to land in the right place to thrive. If he has to cover quick receivers, he will struggle. The Texans could use him in their nickel sets, but I think that his value is to be had later in the draft.
Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
Dawson found a role as the nickel corner playing with Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Dawson is a lockdown nickel corner who is an aggressive tackler. Although this past season Florida’s defense was not as stellar as in previous years, he was one of the better performers on the team. He has a high floor and low ceiling, and with the Texans not having any high draft choices, they will need go after a guy with a more attractive trajectory. He is built well and presents good technique in coverage. But his film against LSU and Florida State demonstrates a hesitation to make decisions, particularly in flood routes and QB rollouts. Dawson also shows a knack for face guarding taller receivers when the ball is in the air. He is at his best when in a zone and he can read the field. I cannot see him beating out Treston Decoud on the Texans’ depth chart after looking at both of their film.
Kevin Toliver II, CB, LSU
Toliver could end up anywhere in the draft. At 6’2”, Toliver has the size, speed, and talent to be the next All-Pro CB for whoever drafts him. He was the #1 ranked CB coming out of high school and flashes instincts that are Marcus Peters good. So what’s wrong with him? An injury history and personality issues plagued a disappointing college career. He was the second best corner on the Tigers’ roster behind Donte Jackson and was suspended for the season opener. His draft profile on NFL.com rips into him for having poor “Football character...Former coaches fret over his attitude and immaturity”. He’s dealt with rotator cuff issues, as well as knee issues, and has been a health concern all throughout college. When healthy, Toliver can run and cover with excellent technique.
He has first round talent but carries baggage that frightens GMs. Toliver would match up perfectly against Titans WR Corey Davis and Jags WR Marqise Lee. Eric Crocker does a great job breaking down Toliver’s film. The Texans never do well with players who are not football obsessed. Watch Toliver’s NFL Combine work. His body language is negative; he is just going through the motions.
Okay, Negative Nelly... so who do you LIKE? We’ve got to take someone! Tomorrow I will tell you who the Texans should pick.
Hint: Nittany Lions.