With the combine now going it’s officially the start of the new NFL year. The combine is the first step of the off season that’ll get a team some help and see what players can come in and help them immediately. As a fan of the Texans I don’t think that the team has many holes to fill. But they do have some areas that could be addressed like depth at ILB and a WR that’ll blow the top of coverage besides Andre Johnson. They could also use another FS to take some pressure off 2nd year reserve Shiloh Keo who’s made mistake after mistake since joining the team. Here are 5 players I can see the Texans taking a serious look at in this years combine.
1. Tavon Austin – Austin blew everyone away with his official 40 yard dash time of 4.25. He can flat out run, and says he thinks of himself as a mix between Percy Harvin and Wes Welker. Austin’s 40 time might put his stock too high for the Texans who are picking 27th overall in the 1st round. But I’d imagine even if it took a trade the Texans would do whatever it took to get a real deep threat and return man as quick as possible. Special team’s was a huge disappointment last season. If Austin for any reason is available at the 27th pick I guarantee the Texans snatch this young man up.
2. Manti T’eo – YES unfortunately I think the Texans are considering this pick. Not just because ILB Brian Cushing got injured last season, but because everything that went on with T’eo will push his value down just enough to be available for the Texans in the draft. If Austin isn’t available I’d say this is logical for Houston. As of right now T’eo is a little small to be a MLB in the 3-4, but he’s also much faster than many ILB’s. If he’s placed in a defense that doesn’t ask him to be the best player on the field and can learn, I think the skies the limit for him talent wise. Just seeing the plays he made in college shows he has a pretty high football IQ as well. After Cushing went down the Texans defense looked noticeably slower, and had hard time against the run. Tim Dobbins and Barrett Rudd are both decent veterans to have but lack the mobility of a Cushing or even T’eo. With someone like T’eo to go alongside Cush the Texans may have the combination they need to overcome the stout AFC offenses they’ll be facing.
3. Tyranne Mathieu – The Honey Badger had his problems this season off the field, but until then he was considered the best defensive back in the country for 2 years. Now he’ll have his chance to prove he’s still exactly that. Going into his junior season at LSU Mathieu was a projected top 15 pick. Now after MORE than 1 failed drug test the kid has slipped quite a way. Some say he may not get taken before the 3rd. If he happens to slip to the 3rd I could see the Texans taking a chance on him. His ability to return punts alone should interest Kubiak and company enough.
4. Ryan Wagner – Wagner’s a senior OL that went to Wisconsin University. Wagner is a huge kid, at 6’6″ and 318 lbs he’s fit for protection on the inside of an offensive line. The Texans had some issues at G on both sides of the O line last year. Wagner would be brought in to play G. The Texans hit the jackpot in last year’s draft getting Ben Jones. A center in college that the Texans converted to RG and he flourished. If drafted they’d look for the same type of production from Wagner. Texans owner Bob McNair has made it clear he thought the team needs help and depth at interior OL, so I figure they’ll be drafting someone within the first 4 rounds.
5. Vance McDonald – This TE from Rice University is right up HC Gary Kubiak’s alley. He’s from Texas and plays a position he finds extremely valuable. The Texans run a lot of 3 TE sets and having multiple TE’s is a must. McDonald was the Owls leading WR his sophomore and junior years but had a slight decline his senior campaign. With Owen Daniels getting up there in age and Garrett Graham being sidelined a portion of last season this should be a priority to the Texans. The TE production was decent this year, but was far from the same as the 2011 season when the Texans had Joel Dressen as well.
Here are other players that I believe will be targets for the Texans along with the 5 listed above. ILB Kevin Minter from LSU, WR Deandre Tompkins, WR Terrence Williams from Baylor, DT John Jenkins, S Robert Lester from Alabama, and OL Terron Armstead.