2011 NFL Mock Draft: Todd McShay Believes Texans Will Look To Improve Front Seven With First Round Pick

The wait is almost over. After more than two months of analyzing a dizzying amount of mock drafts, NFL fans are eager for the 2011 NFL Draft to finally get started next Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. For Houston Texans fans, this year’s draft represents yet another opportunity to acquire talent to help the team get over the hump and advance to the postseason for the first time in franchise history.

There’s still more than a week to go before the first round commences in primetime next Thursday, so let’s resume our rampant speculation about which NFL hopefuls will land where, and why. ESPN’s Todd McShay recently filed his annual scenario based mock draft ($), the iteration of his mocks where he lays out three likely scenarios for each team. Let’s take a look at what McShay believes are the most likely scenarios for the Houston Texans:

Scenario 1: Taking [Robert] Quinn is the best-case scenario outside of Miller somehow falling this far. Quinn would be a nice complement to fellow OLB Connor Barwin, one of the best ILB tandems in the league in DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing, and difference-maker Mario Williams up front.

Hard to argue with that logic. McShay then mentions J.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan — two highly regarded five-technique defensive ends — as viable options if Quinn is off the board. It’s just one man’s opinion, but I think Jordan is a much more risky pick than Watt, a guy I’m extremely high on.

Finally, McShay concludes with:

Scenario 3: The Texans could be forced to weigh value against philosophy here if the players above are gone. [Prince] Amukamara would be the value pick, but I tend to think they would lean toward Missouri DE Aldon Smith because new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is determined to upgrade the front seven.

Were Amukamara to wind up in Houston, I don’t think a single Texans fan would be initially disappointed. The young man can flat out play, and considering what the Texans currently have at the CB position, even if he didn’t turn out to be a perennial Pro Bowl type of talent, he would likely still be an upgrade over the current stable of CBs on the Texans’ roster.

I think McShay has it right though — Wade Phillips will want to improve the Texans front-seven before turning his attention to other facets of the defense. And why not? Improve the front-seven and all of a sudden, deficiencies in the secondary get masked substantially. Look no further than the Pittsburgh Steelers as supporting evidence. Pittsburgh’s secondary is pretty average, yet they typically don’t get exposed too often because of the front-seven’s ability to (1) stop the run and (2) get after the quarterback with out bringing the house on blitzes.

As we rapidly approach the NFL Draft beginning next Thursday night, be sure to check in at Battle Red Blog and Mocking the Draft for comprehensive draft coverage and mock draft discussions.

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