Written by: Barry Lewis on April 23, 2011
Like the San Francisco 49’ers last year, a lot of pundits had the Houston Texans targeted for the playoffs. The combination of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster is lethal. A defense featuring DE Mario Williams, OLB Brian Cushing, ILB’s DeMeco Ryans and Zac Diles, and safety Bernard Pollard provides a very good start to what should be a very good defense.
However, the Texans gave up 24 points or more a total of 14 times. Thats’ right – 14 times. And that is why the Texans finished the year 6-10 after starting the year 4-2.
Enter new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. He is installing a 3-4 defense which means that Mario Williams along with a mish-mash of defensive ends will be doing their job so that the outside linebackers stop the run and get after the quarterback. They are also likely going to run a zone cover scheme because of the cornerback deficiencies that they had last year.
The Texans, in the Twitter Draft, decided to look in its own backyard and traded up to acquire OLB Von Miller, Texas A & M. The price for that pick was high as it traded its #11 pick, as well as 2nd and 3rd round picks. Essentially, they traded DE/OLB Robert Quinn, OLB Bruce Carter and WR Jerrel Jernigan for Von Miller.
Pretty pricey. Nevertheless, add Von Miller to the aforementioned Williams, Cushing, Ryans and Diles and that provides a solid foundation for their front 7.
They found a potential replacement at free safety (Eugene Wilson) in Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple, who is a above-average pass coverage defender and should help the atrocious pass coverage secondary. WR Greg Salas, Hawaii, was one of the better value picks in this draft who should become a real threat as a slot receiver.
DE Cliff Matthews, South Carolina, will have to convert to OLB and it remains to be seen if he will be able to do that considering his test scores at the combine in the 40 and cone exercises.
The Texans drafted a pair of cornerbacks in Justin Rogers, Richmond, and Chykie Brown, Texas, who may be decent fits in evaluating who can play the #2 and nickelback slots opposite of CB Kareem Jackson, a former 1st round draft pick. Rogers and Brown are quick and quick twitch corners who may be graded lower than expected which presents Rogers as somewhat of a reach while Brown presents value. Whether these two corners can impact their defensive secondary will remain to be seen until training camp breaks.
One of the worst picks of this draft was TE Stephen Skelton, Fordham. He is projected as an undrafted free agent regardless of what he has done at his pro day and he is now on a team that features two very good pass receiving tight ends (Owen Daniels and Joel Dreesen). This was a wasted pick that at the very least could have been used in the 7th round.
Elijiah Joseph, ILB, may serve as insurance for Ryans and was also graded to be a undrafted free agent. OG Bryant Browning graded out as an undrafted free agent after being a three-year starter with Ohio State University but may serve as quality depth with the Texans if he can get and stay healthy.
In a nutshell, the Texans paid a high price for Von Miller. The grade on this draft is going to depend on Jarrett, Rogers and Brown. If Miller does not get the job done, which is unlikely, then the Texans 2011 draft grade will primarily rest on those three players in the secondary. That is the bottomline because of what happened last year.
The Texans are going to receive a grade of C because of the Miller trade considering that they could have sat and got an OLB at that spot and addressed the secondary earlier with better talent than what was available.