There are a ton of NFL Draft sites out there that put out a lot of analysis, information, and prospect breakdown. Over the course of the next few months, we'll be breaking down mocks and seeing just how informed these sites are.
Walter Football is one of my favorite mock sites. They do a great job of breaking down prospects and analyzing team needs and schemes. Yesterday, the good people at WF put out a four-round mock draft with Wade Phillips-influenced picks. Let's take a look, shall we? You can look at the full mock here if you'd like or read ahead for the Texans-specific selections.
1st round: Texas A&M OLB Von Miller
2nd round: Maryland S Kenny Tate
3rd round: Baylor NT Phil Taylor
4th round: Iowa DE/DT Christian Ballard
Why these players? Let's break them down.
- Miller's the premier 3-4 pass rusher. He had a "down" season in 2010 with 9.5 sacks, but he's as natural a pass rusher as one will find in this draft class - some compare him to Denver Bronco OLB Elvis Dumervil. If the Texans take him then you have to think they're thinking Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans in the middle with Von Miller and Connor Barwin outside. As a side note, 11 is as high as I've seen Miller go.
- Tate's a massive S at 6-4, 226 pounds. A former WR, he's talented enough to play either safety position. Given his 2010 stats (94 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles) and size, he's probably more of a strong safety. He's switched position a few time, so he's a bit raw at either safety role.
- Taylor's also massive at 6-4 and 355 pounds. He may be too big for Wade's one-gap 3-4 scheme. There's weight concerns with him a la Terrence Cody.
- Ballard's drafted for defensive line depth, but there's a concern, read on multiple sites, that he's a soft player. Fourth round or not, I do not want a soft player or any player with that label. The Texans need football players.
Based on Walter's mock, this is how I would draft:
1st round: Ohio State DE Cameron Hayward - I like Miller a lot and wouldn't mind if Houston traded back into the first round to grab him if he were hanging around spot 20-25, but I've been a fan of Hayward's since his freshman year. He can play the run, rush the passer, drop into a zone on a zone blitz, and is a football player. His Sugar Bowl performance was absolutely outstanding. His name's been mostly linked to New England, and if he's good enough for Bill Belichick then he's good enough for me - especially if Antonio Smith seems to be speculatively waffling a bit at the 3-4.
2nd round: North Carolina FS Deunta Williams - The safety class isn't particularly strong up top, but Williams is a guy who's been mentioned in the late first round. If he's there in the second round then it should be a no-brainer.
3rd round. Stanford NT Sione Fua - I considered Oregon ILB Casey Matthews for depth and insurance purposes, but I like Fua way too much to pass on him in the third round. Whether or not Wade can actually bring in Pat Williams for a season, I think there needs to be a young guy in development behind him. Fua reminds me a lot of Dallas Cowboy NT Jay Ratliff, in terms of being a "smaller" NT but freakishly strong. Having him learn and rotate with Pat would be good for 2011 and beyond.
4th round. Alabama SS Mark Barron - I nearly took Auburn OT Lee Ziemba as a guy to develop as a swing tackle since he fits into the zone-blocking scheme, but the defense really could use all the help it can get. Barron does need some coaching to become more consistent and refine his technique, but it's a good risk/reward/value slot here in the fourth round. Barron's got the size, hitting ability, and athleticism to be a good strong safety if he can put it all together.
It's very defense-heavy, but the defense needs all the help it can get. It's not the Walter's mock is bad - I actually wouldn't mind it. I appreciate the fact that he didn't go first round cornerback (more on that after the draft history is finished), but I don't think the mock was fully optimized for Wade's one-gap 3-4 scheme. I'll give Walter's 1/6 Mock a B- for being acceptable but not great given the board. Not that mine is the end-all, be-all, but I feel like it's more suited for Wade's scheme...even though no one is sure, especially since he's been on the job all of two days, what defense(s) Wade will run in Houston.
Whose mock would you rather have: mine or Walter's? Which prospects have your eye? For more Texans draft news, keep checking this stream for updates and be sure to visit Battle Red Blog for all your Texans needs.