2018: Jermaine Kelly, 7th Round
2017: Treston Decoud, 5th Round
2016: K.J. Dillon, 5th Round
2014: Andre Hal and Lonnie Ballentine, both in the 7th Round
2015 was the only year they didn’t, and that was presumably because they selected Kevin Johnson with their first round pick. There’s no such thing as having too many good defensive backs. They can contribute on special teams, and they make your team more flexible in coverage options. Selecting them is easy. Finding the diamond in the rough is the hard part.
Jermaine Kelly was the latest developmental defensive back iteration for the Texans, and although there is little news about his offseason and potential capacity as an NFL player, he has the physical traits the team idealizes in its secondary. At 6’1” and 195 lbs., Kelly played cornerback at San Jose State, was surrounded by a pretty mediocre defense, but he was a bright spot in the secondary as a man-coverage corner who would occasionally blitz off of the edge.
Some of his training tape on YouTube demonstrates his natural quickness and fluidity. His coverage style matches that of a nickel corner. He will need to learn how to use his hands in press coverage, as his film demonstrates a lack of grappling with receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Watching Kelly’s game against The University of Texas, especially when in coverage against Collin Johnson (who is 6’6”), Kelly struggled in this facet of the game. He had a pass interference penalty in the first quarter on a 3rd and 4 where Johnson was able to release unopposed and stack Kelly in his back hip (21:30 mark to view). Kelly cannot afford to make the same passive mistakes at the NFL level. His best play of the day was on a goal-line pass break up of Collin Johnson, where Kelly read the rout and cut off the pass beautifully (1:16:50 mark to view).
Just talked w/ new #Texans CB @JermaineKelly_3. Said he went into today hoping the #Texans would pick him, fell in love w/ everything about the org' when he was on his visit. Also said former teammate & current Texans RB @tylerervin_ used to cut his hari back in school. @KPRC2— Adam Wexler (@KPRC2AdamW) April 28, 2018
The Texans have been interested in Kelly for a while. They brought him in for a workout at the team’s facility to examine him for themselves to see what the young cornerback could do for the team. Kelly’s biggest worry will be the depth chart ahead of him. Even with Kareem Jackson moving to safety, Kelly is still the fifth cornerback option behind Aaron Colvin, Johnathan Joseph, Kevin Johnson, and Johnson Bademosi. Keeping five corners on a 53-man roster is not out of the question, but Kelly will have to show his worth on special teams if he wants to dress on Sundays.
One thing to note...the Texans also nabbed Kelly’s CB counterpart in San Jose State’s Andre Chachere via undrafted rookie free agency. In a comical and semi-inept conjecture, this could mean that the Texans selected the wrong guy in the draft. After watching tape of both players, it’s debatable if there is a draft-worthy difference between the teammates... just a thought.
For Treston Decoud, a second season in the NFL is something of a blessing. A rule that is no longer in place forced him to abstain from Rookie Mini-Camp while finishing up school. As a result of that rule, he was behind schedule. When the Texans released K.J. Dillon last year, I thought it signaled Decoud’s had a successful training camp. However, Decoud struggled mightily to stay on the game day roster as a rookie and would routinely be used only for special teams purposes. In the last two games of the 2017 season, Decoud played 23% and 20% of the defensive snaps respectively. He ended the season with seven tackles and one pass defended.
This offseason, the Texans made a decision to move Decoud to the safety position, which often signals a player’s lack of speed. For Decoud, this means a second opportunity to make the roster and contribute at a different position. His height makes him an ideal safety for his ability to cover ground faster and break up deep passes with his long arms.
A third-and-seven play against the Cardinals exhibited Decoud’s coverage ability and tenacity at the point of attack. Of all of the secondary players the Texans have selected in late rounds under Bill O’Brien, Decoud has the best college tape and/or highlight reel.
Does Justin Reid immediately jump over Decoud on the depth chart? Most likely. Does Kareem Jackson’s presence at safety push Decoud back another peg? Certainly.
In my Rookie Year Review of Treston Decoud, I said that he would have to improve on his route timing and recognition. Now at safety and in his second year, these things should come easier to him. What Decoud lacks in downhill speed, he makes up for with solid tackling and a good motor.
Houston’s secondary has been bolstered by a litany of additions this offseason. Tyrann Mathieu, Aaron Colvin, Johnson Bademosi, Justin Reid and Jermaine Kelly are all new faces in the room. The secondary room is deep, yet we don’t know if it is deep with talent. The group could use a good injection of youth into its veins; hopefully either Kelly or Decoud will do it.
Both players will need to excel on special teams to have a chance to make it in a crowded secondary roster. Decoud is taller and covers more ground. He’s more agile and more explosive than Jermaine Kelly. There is less stability in the safety position than at cornerback, allowing Decoud to potentially climb up the depth chart faster. Due to size, knowledge of the playbook, playmaking ability, and position availability, this writer rules in favor of Treston Decoud to make the active roster over Jeremaine Kelly.
Who’s More Likely To Make The 2018 Texans’ Roster
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