Writing and Analysis by: Andrew Kozak (@KwakingAboutNFL)
The Houston Texans were one of the leagues hottest teams with an 11 wins and one loss record through the first 13 weeks of the 2012 season. They eventually lost their final three games, and a subsequent lost to the New England Patriots ended their storybook season. For a team that succeeded as well as they did in the past two years, brings forth some serious questions and challenges for Head Coach Gary Kubiak and company. The Texans find themselves in a predicament they are not used to due to their recent success. A number of their players have been able to demand contracts beyond what the team can pay, which included notable free agents: Glover Quin, Connor Barwin, James Casey. However, the team made some key moves in free agency as well, and brought in players such as Fullback Greg Jones and Superbowl Safety Ed Reed. These signings may help patch up some of the losses, but the major issues this team dealt with in the previous season still exists. The Texans will need to get good production out of their nine picks in the 2013 NFL Draft if they want to stay on top of the tough, AFC South.
Houston Texans’ needs: WR, RT, ILB, NT, QB, OLB, RG, FS
1.27 – DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson
The Texans have a need at one of the deepest positions in the draft this year and it will work to their advantage in the first round of the NFL Draft. They have the luxury of just waiting where they are in the first round and draft a great wide out. DeAndre Hopkins would be a great fit for the Texans, because he not only has the potential to step up as the widereceiver one, when Andre Johnson begins to decline due to age and injury, but he can also contribute immediately. Hopkins already possesses great route running and reliable hands, but he also showed off great athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine. Hopkins electric playing style and ability to find the endzone will force defenses from double teaming Andre Johnson, as well as preventing teams from stacking their defense against Running Back Arian Foster. .
Alternate consideration: DJ Fluker OT Alabama, Arthur Brown ILB Kansas State
2.25 – Menelik Watson OT Florida State
The 2012 Houston Texans missed Eric Winston much more than they thought, as their running game was extremely ineffective to the right side of the offensive line. General Manager Rick Smith and company, can go a long way in correcting this problem with Menelik Watson of Florida State. Watson is very explosive for the big frame he plays with and is a better run blocker than he is in pass protection. Watson has tons of room to grow with only two years of real football experience under his belt. If he can continue to grow and stay disciplined to avoid penalties, he has the potential to quickly grow into on of the leagues top tackles.
Alternate consideration: Jon Bostic ILB Florida, Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas
3.25 – Zac Dysert QB Miami (OH)
General Manager Rick Smith was open about adding a quarterback in this draft early, and he does it here with Zac Dysert. This Miami (OH) product has shown similar abilities as ex-Redhawk Ben Roethlisberger, however not as talented and does not come in the NFL with the same fanfare. Dysert has the athleticism and arm strength to be a legitimate starter, but he just needs some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. The biggest knock on Dysert is with his field awareness and poise, which can be learned. If he is given a year or two to develop under Schaub, he has the potential to be a star in the NFL.
Alternate consideration: Sio Moore LB Connecticut, Brandon Williams DT Missouri Southern
3.33 (compensationary selection) – Kiko Alonso ILB Oregon
The Texans severely lack help in the middle of their 3-4 defensive scheme since Demaco Ryans was traded. Kiko Alonso has the abilities to be a three-down linebacker in the NFL, with the ability to drop back in coverage or stand tall against the run. Alonso’s biggest issues have been mostly off-field, but he seems to have left those behind him. If that’s the case, this guys has the potential the be exactly what the Texans need opposite their stud ILB, Brian Cushing.
Alternate consideration: Brandon Williams DT Missouri Southern, Brian Winters OG Kent State
4.27 – Montori Hughes DT Tennessee-Martin
Houston lacks a true 3-4 Nose Tackle since they switched to Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillip’s scheme. It is an essential position to keep those the opponent’s guards from getting to the second level and on to their athletic linebackers. Hughes might not be as athletically gifted as a lot of the Defensive Tackles in this draft, but he is a big body and thus become an immovable object in the middle. He can contribute on early-down and short-yardage situations and be rotated out on passing downs. Hughes still needs a lot of work with his hand placement and he needs to learn to read plays better. But he would be an immediate upgrade over current Nose Tackle, Earl Mitchell.
Alternate consideration: Travis Long OLB Washington State, Levine Toilolo TE Stanford
5.27 – Josh Boyce WR TCU
Devier Posey has an achilles injury and it will be questionable if he can return to his previously explosive self. Additionally, Lestar Jean had an opportunity to step up last year and take over the receiving job opposite Andre Johnson, but couldn’t even wrestle it away from ex-Texan Kevin Walter (who was cut earlier this off season). Keyshawn Martin role may never expand beyond the return game, and is better suited for the slot position. These players leave a lot to be desired from a depth standpoint at the wide receiver position. Josh Boyce will give Houston another dimension to their offense. He is a guy that is ready to come in an contribute from the slot, making excellent use of all of the space he will have playing with Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins on the outside.
Alternate consideration: Ty Powell OLB Harding, Alvin Bailey G Arkansas
6.27 – Ty Powell OLB Harding
There is a very good chance Powell will not be available this late when the draft, but at this point the Harding product is still being overlooked. Powell brings a unique skillset to the table, having played both Safety and Defensive End in college. He should be an explosive pass rusher with the understanding of how to play pass protection because of his experience in the secondary. Grabbing a pass rusher like Powell would help ease the loss of Connor Barwin and give the Texans a third pass rusher to rotate in with Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus.
Alternate consideration: Miguel Maysonet RB Stony Brook, Ryan Otten TE San Jose State
6.33 (compensatory selection) – Miguel Maysonet RB Stony Brook
The Texans lost Justin Forsett to the Jaguars this off season, and the Texans need to start thinking about their depth with an oft-injured Ben Tate and an overworked Arian Foster. Foster has averaged 372-touches per year for the last three years, and appears to be wearing down, in addition to his arrhythmia scare earlier int he off season. Ben Tate has not been able to play a full season since he was drafted, missing his entire rookie and third year with injuries. Insert Maysonet, a small school running back with big talent. The runner up of the Walter Payton award has proved he can do it on the small stage and has earned his shot at proving if he can on the big one. Maysonet has a lot of speed and decisiveness to his game, which should translate well to the NFL. He hasn’t shown much in the passing game so there is still room for him to grow as a player.
Alternate consideration: Ryan Otten TE San Jose State, Hugh Thorton OG Illinois
7.27 – Jake Stoneburner TE Ohio State
James Casey was underutilized in the Texans system, but he was still part of their passing game in 2012. The addition of a Tight End like Stoneburner is the Texans’ attempt to fill the void left by Casey. Stoneburner is an athletic Tight End that can play at wide out, and should be able to put a lot of pressure on linebackers and safeties. If he can bulk up, improve his route tree and blocking technique, Stoneburner has a chance to be the long-term answer at Tight End after Texans number one Tight End Owen Daniels can’t contribute anymore