2011 NFL Draft Thread: SBN Houston's Pre-Combine Texans Mock Draft

Finally, this 2011 NFL Draft thread has come to this: my Houston Texans mock. For the past month or so, I’ve criticized and reacted to most of the bigger draft sites using the historical trends I unraveled in December/January and my personal Texans fan-dom. Now, it’s time to put myself out there to be criticized and mocked for being a bad mock GM in my mock situation of a mock NFL Draft. 

For this scenario, I’m doing my best to put myself in the shoes of general manager Rick Smith, head coach Gary Kubiak, and new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to fill the needs of the roster. I’m under the assumption that free agency won’t occur until the summer, but I try to anticipate what will happen there. I do try to keep a lot of their draft trends in mind, but I’m not in their draft room, so I make no claims that I know for certain that these are their guys.

It’s also difficult to say who will go where, so I tried to just go by general mock consensus as to who will be more or less available by balancing the big boards of Mocking the Draft, Walter Football, DraftTek, and CBSSports.com.

These are the picks as they stand now. In other words, no compensatory picks are included. I do disagree with the esteemed Mr. McCown and believe that the size of Dunta Robinson's contract to Atlanta (and even Rex Grossman getting some playing time in Washington) will net some sort of higher compensation (I'll say a 4th round pick just to go on record).

1st Round – University of Missouri OLB Aldon Smith

I’ve been critical of SB Nation writer Brian Galliford mocking Smith to Houston, but, given the predicted available board, I can’t see anyone who I would want more. I think Texas A&M OLB Von Miller will be gone as will LSU CB Patrick Peterson, Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara, Alabama DT Marcell Dareus, and Alabama WR Julio Jones. I believe Purdue OLB Ryan Kerrigan is a better fit as a 4-3 defensive end so that leaves me the raw and incredibly athletic Smith to take at OLB. Lately, Smith has drawn comparisons to Cowboys, and Wade pick, OLB DeMarcus Ware – not a bad player to be compared to at all. 

At this point, arguing whether Connor Barwin or rookie OLB is suited for the weakside and strongside is silly because Houston needs defensive talent in general. Personally, I’m not a fan of raw rookies, but Smith would be an immediate starter and provide impact in Wade’s aggressive 3-4 scheme – something the current regime needs.

2nd Round – University of Texas CB Curtis Brown

I make this pick because I firmly believe new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will make good on some of his hints and move Glover Quin to free safety – filling that void that has been caused by Eugene Wilson but leaving another void in the cornerback depth chart.

With a veteran #1 CB a top priority already, any rookie will be able to slowly work their way up through the slot. Given Kareem Jackson's skill set, I believe Houston will look for someone a bit speedier to pair up with him as the franchise's future. Brown’s got the speed and size, but, more importantly, he’s also a great tackler which Houston values in their defensive backs.

3rd Round – Stanford University NT Sione Fua

I’ve said all I need to say on Fua. I think he’d be great in a nose rotation with Earl Mitchell, if Phillips truly does like Earl, or behind a veteran guy like Pat Williams. I think Fua has the tools to be a very good nose tackle in Wade’s one-gap system a la former Phillips NT Jay Ratliff. The value in the 3rd round is very good for Fua, an experienced 3-4 NT and the Texans do love players who have scheme experience (for the record, not many college teams run a 3-4 base defense). 

4th Round – University of Pittsburgh OT Jason Pinkston

Another pick made on the assumption that current reserve swing tackle Rashad Butler will be offered a deal and starting position by someone desperate to improve their line during the free agency period. I think Pinkston would ably fill the same role behind Duane Brown and Eric Winston

There’s varying opinion on Pinkston’s stock as some have him going as high as 35 while others have him going in the late 4th round, but I think Pinkston has the talent to start in the NFL, much like Mr. Butler. Pinkston’s draft stock probably will see a rise or fall depending on what the Combine reveals about his previously injured knee.

5th Round – Boise State University SS Jeron Johnson

Admittedly, I’m a fan of Boise State and watch a lot of their games, so I’ve seen how reliable Johnson is in the secondary. He doesn’t bring the size that Bernard Pollard does (Johnson’s 5’11’’ 194 pounds to Pollard’s 6’1’’ 224 pound frame) nor does he dish out the highlight reel hits, but Johnson’s a smart football player who is consistent, if nothing else.

Johnson wraps up and makes the solid tackle and is athletic enough to make plays in coverage (averaged ~3 INTs and 6 passes defensed over the past three seasons in Boise). He could be a nice fit in the Houston secondary with Pollard not expecting to return and the pass defense needing to improve dramatically.

6th Round – Virginia Tech OLB Steven Friday

Outside linebacker is my prediction to get doubled up with draft picks as the Texans have done many times in their previous draft classes. There are concerns about Friday’s size and physicality, but he’s got athletic ability that could develop into something with the right coaching. As a 6th rounder, it’s a solid pick for depth which Houston needs at the OLB position.

7th Round – University of Idaho QB Nathan Enderle

I gushed about my recent discovery of Enderle recently. I think it is a smart roster management move to get a young quarterback in to develop, especially since Gary Kubiak loves having that project, whether it is to benefit your team on the field or eventually trade away for more draft picks. Enderle’s got potential in the scheme due to his arm and mobility (definitely as a primary back-up at a minimum) and would benefit from developing behind Matt Schaub and a veteran back-up – preferably not Dan Orlovsky since we know he’s not up for the job.

As always dear readers, the comments are yours to mock the mock and tell me who I missed out on and why you're glad I'm not the Texans general manager.

Next up here? A look at how a blogger from a division rival mocks for your Houston Texans. Who will it be? That's what we call a cliffhanger.

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