HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – The Houston Texans came into NFL Draft weekend without many glaring needs, but there was still hope they would make a splash.
That didn’t happen.
What the Texans general manager Rick Smith and the rest of the brain trust did do, however, is put together a solid draft in which they addressed some key needs. Head coach Gary Kubiak and Smith did advance the franchise though perhaps not in the bold fashion we anticipated.
Instead of adding a much-needed receiver to complement Andre Johnson in the first round on Thursday night, the Texans zeroed in on Mario Williams replacement at outside linebacker by taking Illinois one-season wonder defensive end Whitney Mercilus with the 26th overall pick.
Then with a talent like Georgia Tech wideout Stephen Hill still on the board going into the second round, logic might have suggested the Texans trade up. But they instead traded out of the second and seventh rounds, while gaining an extra third round pick and a fourth round selection. With Tampa Bay’s fifth pick of the third round, the Texans were able to take Ohio State receiver DeVier Posey, who should be able to step immediately as the third receiver.
The Texans were also able to make up for the offseason losses guard and backup center Mike Brisiel and tackle Eric Winston by drafting guard Brandon Brooks (third round), center Ben Jones (fourth round) and tackle Nick Mondek. Then they even stepped outside of the norm and drafted Texas A&M and local product Randy Bullock in the fifth round, marking the first time in history the Texans had drafted a place-kicker. The move necessary after Neil Rackers left for the Washington Redskins a week earlier.
In all, the Texans came out of the draft with two wide receivers, a guard, center, tackle, linebacker, defensive end and a kicker, while they also picked up record-setting UH quarterback Case Keenum as a college free agent once the draft was over Saturday night.
“I said last week, we were hopeful that we would be able to come out of the weekend and feel like we’ve improved our football team. We certainly feel that way,” Smith said. “I look at our class and I think it accomplished several things that we were attempting to accomplish.”
The biggest thing is they brought in a few players who should be to make immediate impacts and some like Nebraska defensive end Jared Crick (fourth round),who will provide quality depth for a couple seasons before he is ready to move into a starting role. Mercilus, Posey, Bullock and wide receiver/punt returner Keshawn Martin are all expected to fall into the category of instant impact contributors and if that is indeed the case it will have made this a very solid draft.
“Obviously, the coaches have done their work over the course of the last couple of months. It’s just nice to see things come together,” Kubiak said. “I feel very good about our draft class, not only adding quality talent to our football team, but a lot of passion. I think our team is about a group of guys that play very hard week in and week out.
“When you look at this group, that’s the first thing that stands out to me. I’m very excited to get started with them and I feel very good coming out of (the draft).”
Perhaps the only pick that may face some scrutiny is the selection of the 6-foot-2 Posey, who missed most of his senior season due to a 10-game suspension. The Texans have steered clear of players with baggage in the draft, but seemed to find Posey as a safe risk after he began last season serving a five-game suspension for a memorabilia for tattoos scandal and then five more games were tacked on because the NCAA determined he was overpaid for a summer job.
Posey’s body of work in the three years leading up to his senior season, combined with how he conducted himself during the suspension and once he was allowed to compete made this a safe gamble for the Texans.
“He’s got a skill set, he’s good size. He has good speed,” Smith said. “He’s a very good route runner, good hands. He’s got range around his body and a catching radius that we like. We think he’s going to be a good player for us. We’ve talked often about the fact that we won’t penalize a guy for making a mistake. If it’s not repeated behavior and it’s not a decision where we think a guy has done something so egregious that we won’t even consider him. If a guy makes a mistake, we’ll give a guy a second chance.”
Posey’s second chance likely means that Jacoby Jones has had his final chance with the Texans. A year after signing an extension, Jones seems the odd man out after he failed to live up to expectations as an experienced receiver and then his failures as a punt returner during the second round of the playoffs. In addition to Posey, the Texans also drafted Martin and all indications are he will be the team’s new punt returner in the fall.
The Texans reportedly tried to trade Jones over the weekend, but found no takers. But the writing is pretty clear though Smith and Kubiak tried to say otherwise Saturday.
“I think there were reports out there that we were attempting to trade Jacoby,” Smith said. “Jacoby is still on our football team. We did not trade Jacoby. You’re always entertaining any kind of phone calls that you have over the course of a draft. We do our due diligence that way, but he’s still on our team. It does not signal the end of anything at this point. What we were trying to do is add quality football players.”