Sports

Stock Rising For Texans’ Top Targets

By JOHN P. LOPEZ
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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

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Somewhere between a Mike Ditka-like mortgaging of a franchise’s entire draft (for Ricky Williams in 1999) and the Texans’ inconsistent conservative, reserved, low-risk approach toward building a team, lies the answer for what ails this organization.

Recent developments at the NFL Combine prove one thing for certain. If the Texans do not take a draft risk — that is, overpay for the right to move up — they will lose. Gary Kubiak loses. Wade Phillips loses. Fans lose.

This is one of those unique times when the smart, safe play is anything but the smartest, safest thing to do.

The Texans have seemingly long coveted Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. The just-completed Combine did nothing but prove the experts right — too much so, in fact. Miller was without question the best linebacker in the field. Peterson was outstanding, likely solidifying his place as a top-three pick. And Amukamara tore off a blistering 4.37 40-yard dash on Tuesday.

All three players saw their draft stock rise appreciably. The Texans, however, remain at No. 11 in the draft pecking-order.

That’s not to say there won’t be a potentially elite  player at No. 11 if the Texans do not find a willing trade partner. Neither does it mean if the Texans don’t get one of those three game-changing type talents, that they’ll fall flat on their collective faces, like they did in 2010.

But sometimes, the best play is paying an elite price for a surefire elite talent. No one would expect the Texans to go the Ditka route, mortgaging the entire draft for just one player. But if the Texans truly are a team on the brink in so many ways — teetering on a tightrope that separates glory from the pit — they need to act like it.

If after all the meetings, all the Pro Days and film sessions and background checks and Wonderlic scores, the Texans truly feel the one player that can have the biggest, best immediate impact is Von Miller, then by gosh do what it takes to move into position to draft him. If it’s Patterson, or Amukamara, or some other player for which a potential trade partner is asking a King’s Ransom, then pay it.

Period. This is not a bad place for Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. He literally has nothing to lose by trying everything, making aggressive moves, demanding from his owner that philosophical standards are changed for the sake of winning in 2011.

What’s McNair going to say, “let’s take our time on this?” Uh, no. Kubiak is out of time and in so many ways, McNair is against the clock, too. He’s lived a golden life for going on 10 NFL seasons in this town. The fans just keep coming.

But how much longer will the loyalty be blind? Some of the numbers and performances at the NFL Combine were eye-opening.

No one should realize this more than the Texans’ braintrust. Do what it takes … whatever it takes.

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