Reporting John P. Lopez
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Contrary to popular opinion, the Texans enter the 2012 NFL Draft from a position of need, not luxury.
Sure, this is a Super Bowl-caliber team if all the front-line players stay healthy and productive. But the Texans NEED offensive linemen, a contributing cornerback and a rush-end.
The departures of Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel leave a gaping hole on the line. Obviously, Mario Williams’ departure does the same thing at rush-end/linebacker. And since Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael barely contributed, the Texans must bolster arguably the most important spot on the defense.
You may want a wide-receiver, but you need help elsewhere.
Hence, my Round-by-Round Draft:
First Round — (Possible trade down) — Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
There are more highly regarded linemen, but some have off-field issues and none have the zone-blocking pedigree and versatility of Martin, who could play anywhere on the line, including both tackle spots. That’s exactly what the Texans need.
Second Round – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
His draft stock has soared, but McClellin has been compared favorably to Brian Cushing in terms of work ethic, ability to cover ground and finish tackles in the backfield.
Third Round — Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
He’s athletic and a ball-hawking corner who’s played at the highest level, facing SEC talent week-in and week-out. Could emerge as a front-line corner when surrounded by NFL talent.
Fourth Round — Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
His stock has cratered, but Gary Kubiak is quite familiar with his talent and he has a front-line, NFL set of skills. After his junior season, Fuller was projected as an early second-round pick.
Fourth Round (second pick of the round) — Brandon Washington, OG, Miami
The Texans have had a lot of success with Miami linemen. Big, physical player could help for years.
Fifth Round — Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
Martin fits the Wade Phillips mold of DT perfectly. He’s athletic, penetrates into the backfield regularly and — while not a tall player at 6-1 — Phillips never has cared about massive DTs.
Sixth Round — David Paulson, TE, Oregon
Not as productive as a senior, but good hands and potential to be a great blocker — including as a potential fullback a la James Casey.
Seventh Round — Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M
Most productive kicker in college football. The Texans need him more than a fullback.