With the Houston Texans officially eliminated from playoff contention, the talk of the fanbase will shift to coaching changes, off-season moves, and the 2011 NFL Draft. Before we break down prospects and analyze mock drafts, we're going to re-visit Texans draft history to study where the franchise has been and grade each of the nine drafts. Let's begin, shall we?
Here it is, in case you have drunk enough to forget, the 2009 Houston Texans draft class:
1st Round - OLB Brian Cushing (USC)
2nd Round - DE Connor Barwin (Cincinnati)
3rd Round - OG Antoine Caldwell (Alabama)
4th Round - CB Glover Quin (New Mexico), TE Anthony Hill (Fresno State)
5th Round - TE James Casey (Rice)
6th Round - CB Brice McCain (Utah)
7th Round - FS Troy Nolan (Arizona State)
Talk about a flashback, right? If you're wondering where those guys are in the very distant future of two long years later, look no further:
- Cushing won the 2009 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but struggled in 2010 due to his four-game suspension, position change, and lack of DeMeco Ryans to work with. At times, Cushing looked like 2009 Cushing, but there were also moments of heistancy. Can a full, normal season help the return of Brian?
- Barwin led rookie defensive linemen with 4.5 sacks in 2009, but his sophomore season was cut short due to an ankle injury. The 2011 question is can Barwin make the leap to 3-4 OLB?
- Caldwell also had a good rookie season, but regressed and lost his starting job in training camp. Can he find that nasty streak that helped him in 2009?
- John McClain would be so upset if I didn't remind you that Glover Quin didn't allow a touchdown in his rookie season. In 2010? Quin fell pretty hard in back-to-back weeks against Jacksonville and New York, but he bounced back like a man. After those games, many a blogger, fan, and analyst saw marked improvement by Quin, who did out do his 2009 numbers. Quin's more comfortable in space than on the outside while some still wait for Houston to put him at free safety - where his skill set seems to best fit.
- Hill's still on the roster, but he's been injured for the majority of his career.
- The affectionately-nicknamed THOR (The Hero Of Rice) saw more field time in 2010. He's shown flashes of being a good receiving tight end. Will the Texans bank in THOR and let Owen Daniels walk?
- McCain was good in limited dime-only action in 2009. In 2010, McCain saw the field more and got torched. Eventually, McCain was benched.
- Nolan seems to be a bit too slow to be a rangy free safety, although he's miles faster than Eugene Wilson, but I believe he could make a transition to strong safety if Houston needed. Either way, Nolan seems, at the least, back-up quality.
- Of course, you almost have to add Arian Foster to this class since he was an unsigned rookie free agent. Foster's kind of good.
It's still too soon to tell about the 2009 Houston Texans draft class, but I'm inclined to say that there's talent in many of these picks. Aside from McCain, these players can make an impact on the roster. Normally, I re-draft at this point, but it is too soon to tell on this class and the next, and final, class. I think the only pick that I know for sure that I would change is South Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn over McCain in the 6th round because McCain's just fallen apart while Munnerlyn has looked good in Carolina.
The 2009 NFL Draft has produced some impact players for Houston. There's potential for this class to produce seven starters, including Foster. It's too early to grade this, but, so far, it's passing. Year three will be the telling point for the development of many of these guys who hit the wall during their sophomore seasons. Still, I'm cautiously optimistic about this group. Time will tell...
Next up? The 2010 NFL Draft where Houston wanted NFL-ready players.