Thinking too much about the NFL Lockout makes my head feel like I've been hammering nails with it all day. What doesn't hurt at all, though, is repeated NFL Draft talk. It's exciting! Right?
I don't want to bang the self-promotion drum here, but my source for this entry is, in fact, my own 2011 Texans Mock Draft Tracker that I keep over at my regular Internet cage. Here is some reaction to the current top four predicted first-round Texans picks, roughly a month and a half away from the 2011 NFL Draft.
Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
The way the mocks are shaking out, it seems as if Quinn is going to be the best player Houston can hope to draft. Other favorites are staying in the top ten, and Quinn may still join them. He's an explosive pass-rusher, and his talent and potential are undeniable. There is a health risk involved, as Quinn has a benign tumor in his brain that has caused severe headaches and blackouts. There is also the question of his losing an entire college season due to accepting gifts from an agent - but I don't think anyone really cares about the character end of that as much as the side that made him lose a year of experience and development.
Fit for the Texans - Fantastic. He'd be the pass-rushing OLB the Texans so desperately need going into their first year of the Wade Phillips 3-4 defense.
Chances he is available at #11 - Not good. I don't care what the mocks say. I think Quinn is an elite talent, and I won't be at all surprised to see someone trade up ahead of the Texans to nab him.
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Prince is overwhelmingly thought to be the second-best corner in the draft behind LSU's Patrick Peterson. I'm not convinced, but more importantly, the last thing the Texans need is another starting rookie cornerback. We know the way the Texans operate, and they wouldn't draft a first round corner to play the nickel (or even have to earn a starting spot. See: Jackson, Kareem).
Fit for the Texans - Sure, he'd fit. But only because there's such a lack of talent at the position. The Texans need a veteran corner, not another rookie. As a safety convert, he is intriguing - but the Texans would be foolish to spend a first round pick on a guy and then immediately change his position.
Chances he is available at #11 - Very good. I don't think the Cowboys are as enamored with Prince as a lot of mock drafts suggest.
Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
Incredibly athletic and tough. He could very well become an solid pass-rusher as a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE. Problem is, he is very young, and his draft stock is largely based on potential, not performance.
Fit for the Texans - I wouldn't go this route. He may turn out to be fantastic, but the Texans can't gamble on potential in this draft. If they are going to get their rush OLB, it needs to be a guy who has proven it on the field. If he was around in the late first after a trade down, I would be a little more open to this but it's hard to ignore the "potential vs. production" argument when you consider how the Amobi Okoye pick turned out.
Chances he is available at #11 - Almost certainly.
Cameron Jordan, DE, California
A great run defender, and one of the top 3-4 DE prospects in the draft. He has elite strength, and plays consistently with that "low pad level" you hear draft analysts refer to. I feel he will be an excellent NFL 3-4 five technique.
Fit for the Texans - If they aren't completely in love with Antonio Smith, Cameron Jordan would be a great fit. If Jordan is higher on their board than available OLBs at #11, I won't be surprised (or disappointed) at all if they take him. He could give the defensive line some serious depth and versatility. Obviously, I'd rather them get their rush OLB, but if there isn't a great option at that position on the board, I'd much rather see the Texans snatch up Jordan over reaching on their biggest need position.
Chances he is available at #11 - Fair. This is the guy I think the Cowboys covet most, of the realistic options to be on the board when they pick at nine. That said if he makes it past Dallas, he should be there at 11 unless someone trades up.