For the past month, I have gone back to re-visit every single Houston Texans draft class. In all, the Texans have drafted 76 players in the NFL or Supplemental Drafts. With nine years of samples (four of those under general manager Rick Smith) to draw off of, what do these 76 Texans reveal?
- The Texans have invested in both lines heavily with 13 offensive and 11 defensive linemen, which includes first-round linemen from 2005-2008. With nearly one out of every three picks going on the lines, you have to question the results since Houston's never been known for dominant line play on either side of the ball.
- The Texans have drafted at least one linebacker in eight of their nine drafts - more than any other position group. Running back and wide receiver come in second with seven out of nine years and defensive tackles have come to Houston in six out of nine drafts. Given the switch to the 3-4, it's virtually a lock that a LB will be in the draft class.
- For all the tight end jokes, Houston's only ever drafted five tight ends (in four drafts out of nine).
- If anyone's dreaming about Nebraska's kicker/punter Alex Henery or replacing the aging veteran Matt Turk, Houston has never drafted a punter, kicker, or long-snapper. Other rarely drafted positions include: fullback (1), returner specialist (1), center (2), and defensive end (3).
- No safety (free or strong) has ever been drafted before round four. Yes, Glenn Earl is the best safety Houston's ever drafted out of the seven taken. Let that sink in just a bit.
- Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller to Houston? According to draft history, that's not the most-likely selection. The Texans have only selected a player from a Texas-based college six times, including one lone Aggie in 2003's selection of Chance Pierce.
- The Texans have taken multiple players who play the same position in six out of nine drafts. More recently, it's been back-to-back seasons of double cornerbacks (that's how you know the position has too much youth).
- Rick Smith's favorite conferences in his 31 picks? The SEC and Pac-10 share the lead with five players selected since 2007. From his alma mater of Purdue? 0. Sorry, Purdue OLB Ryan Kerrigan.
- If Houston does a draft day deal it'll likely be in the second round. Five times Houston has traded its second-round pick - four years not making a second-round selection at all.
- That said, Houston rarely trades up. Aside from the ill-fated Jason "Bust"-in pick, the Texans have not aggressively moved up in the draft.
- The Texans are a need-drafting team. Houston tends to look for players who can step in and start at a position of need in round one. The picks for rounds two and three traditionally rotate in, so they're also at need positions.
- There's more signs that Houston doesn't abide by the rule that "you just take the most talented players out there." Scheme fit, leadership skills, and drafting players from "pipeline" schools have been a major part of general manager Rick Smith's philosophy. Hence why you see a lot of players from Alabama's cover-2 defense, Colorado State's zone offense, and USC's 4-3 under front-seven.
What's that tell us BEFORE we get to Houston needs? Well, Houston fans should expect a LB, OL, and DL in this class. Those players will primarily be from the Southeast or West Coast and not the Midwest or Texas. The Texans will put needs and scheme fits before talent - except at the safety position where they'll look for another late round find - which will lead to a debatable draft pick (see: Kareem Jackson over Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty). It is also highly likely that two rookies will play the same position (I'd bet linebacker this season).
For those wanting any first round name thrown out...the information currently points to Oregon State's Stephen Paea or Alabama's Marcell Dareus (Pac-10/SEC player, first round defensive lineman, and fits the one-gap 3-4 defensive scheme). Take that for what it's worth, fans.
The next scheduled post? Ranking the needs of the Houston Texans. Hopefully, there will be another multi-round mock to analyze as well.