Now that it’s pretty deep into free agency and a lot of the position questions are answered it’s about time for a draft preview. The Texans do have some priority positions to fill and will do so early I believe. With Kevin Walter now a Titan the Texans know they’ll need a WR. Not necessarily to play opposite Andre Johnson but to play period. At the end of last year Devier Posey stepped up and became the consistent 3rd target the Texans needed in the WR core. Posey was injured in the playoffs and will almost certainly miss some time to start the season but will return during this season. Knowing that the Texans can draft a player that not only fills the need of WR but also a player that’ll stretch the field deep. The Texans have lacked a player with that ability and know every play maker they can get will be difference between another 1 win playoff campaign and a Super Bowl appearance. Let’s get into this and look at the players the Texans will be targeting on April 25th.
Keenan Allen out of Cal seems to be a likely candidate. Many are of the opinion that the Texans should draft DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson over Allen but I disagree. Allen had a great season this past year. He caught a TD pass in all but 3 games this season, and those 3 games were against USC, Stanford, and Ohio St. He still had great numbers in those games though. At 6’3″ and 210 lbs Allen already has the size to contribute for a team now. Allen could play outside, but when in the slot at Cal he seemed to be more of a mismatch for defenses. When Cal played against Ohio St. Allen had 10 catches and 144 yards. He played most of that game in the slot, and never was stopped really. Allen ran a slow 40 at 4.71 but he was never considered a speedster. Mike Mayock said he doesn’t care about his 40 yard dash. Anquan Boldin also ran a slow 40, but look at him now. They key is knowing what you’re getting and how to utilize the talents they have. Plain and simple Allen catches passes and runs great routes, Texans need both.
If the Texans go WR in the 1st round I feel like they’ll definitely go defense with their next pick. They’ve went defense in the 1st the last 2 years. The Texans got JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus with those picks. I believe that the Texans will go ILB here. So far this off season they’ve re signed Tim Dobbins and no one else. So they have Dobbins, injury prone Daryl Sharpton, and Brian Cushing who’s returning from a torn ACL. Oregon’s Kiko Alonso would fit nicely in the middle of the field alongside Brian Cushing. Alonso had some discipline problems early in his college career. But after getting a DUI and being forced to sit out a whole season Alonso came back a better and much smarter player. In 2012 Alonso racked up 81 tackles and 14 of those were for a loss. That’s pretty good as a ILB and not a primary pass rusher. He has a knack for being around the football, as he showed getting 4 interceptions, and 2 forces fumbles. Wade Phillips loves players that are naturally disruptive defensively. If picked here Alonso could start and have an impact immediately this season.
Big position priorities for the Texans at LB, DT, and interior OL. I believe they’ll address the offensive line with their 3rd round pick. Both Terron Armstead and Ryan Wagner are possibilities here. Armstead has tremendous upside, but has some off the field issues that may stop some teams from taking him this high. Wagner on the other hand is more than ready now to contribute to a team. I believe the Texans go with Wagner due to his lack of off field problems. Wagner would more than likely back up Wade Smith or Ben Jones. There’s also the possibility he rotates in as Ben Jones did before getting some starts later in the season. Jones was a 4th round pick last season out of Georgia.
The Texans have been great at later draft picks that have turned to be great players for them. Ben Jones last season was an example of this. Like Jones, the now departed Glover Quin was also a 4th round pick that turned out to be a starter and key contributor. No doubt the Texans are looking for another player like that this year. One player that rings a bell in my head is Phillip Steward. Steward’s a OLB from the University of Houston who had 11 sacks last season. He was a tackling machine in 2012 for the Cougars. Steward played OLB in the 4-3 scheme the Cougars ran, but he has the instincts of a ILB. Just like Cushing was, Steward could be converted to ILB in the Wade Phillips 3-4 defense.