Texans Draft Picks: Texans Add More Defensive Players, Developmental Depth On Offense

Chronicling the Houston Texans draft picks in the 2011 NFL Draft

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Mr. Irrelevant: Texans Make Cheta Ozougwu Of Rice The Final Pick Of 2011 NFL Draft

The Lowsman Trophy is hanging around in Houston today and it shouldn’t be much of a commute whenever the lockout is lifted as the Texans made Rice’s Cheta Ozougwu of Rice Mr. Irrelevant by selecting him with the 254th and final pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Ozougwu profiles as a 3-4 edge rusher in Wade Phillips’ new scheme. He probably won’t contribute much in pass coverage, but you can never have enough pass rush in this league. Ozougwu will be sent to California for a weeklong vacation as the winner of the Mr. Irrelevant contest, handed out annually to the last player picked in the NFL Draft.

Once he gets back he’ll focus on seeing if he can crack the Texans 3-4 OLB rotation, Connor Barwin and fellow draftee Brooks Reed will have first choice at starting slots, but Ozougwu will join Mark Anderson as designated pass rushers who could get on the field on passing downs and create havoc for Phillips. Looks like another solid pick for the Texans, and a blue star for picking the only Houston-area college player in the draft.


Texans Draft Picks: Texans Grab Arkansas State Tackle Derek Newton

The Houston Texans have selected Arkansas State offensive tackle Derek Newton with their first of two seventh-round picks in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Though the Texans would love to re-sign swing tackle Rashad Butler, he isn't likely to return to Houston in 2011. The team is likely to address that need in free agency, but the team will hope they have something in the raw Newton.

...And raw he is. Newton doesn't have the bulk or build you'd like from the perfect right tackle, but hey - we're talking about a seventh round pick here. He's got the long arms you like at the position, but doesn't really have the strength to use them at maximum effectiveness. He needs a lot of help in the weight room, and with his technique. He's solid as a run-blocker when he's on the move, but he has issues with his footwork in pass protection. 

Derek Newton was a first-team all Sun-Belt choice, voted on by the conference's coaches.


Texans Draft Picks: Houston Selects UNC QB T.J. Yates In The 5th

It was widely-assumed that the Texans' first pick on the offensive side of the ball in the 2011 NFL Draft would be a wide receiver. The Texans instead took quarterback T.J. Yates of North Carolina with their second 5th round pick.

The Texans have backup quarterback issues, no doubt. Dan Orlovsky is hot, wet garbage has struggled mightily, and Matt Leinart thinks he's ready to start now. Heh. 

Yates excels with play-action, so you know he was on Houston's radar. He doesn't have great arm strength and doesn't move well, but is an accurate intermediate passer. Sound familiar? I thought so.

The Texans may finally have to admit that the Orlovsky contract was simply incredibly stupid. That said, none of us will be surprised when Orlovsky remains the backup, Leinart is sent packing, and Yates ends up landing on the practice squad. Just stay healthy, Matt. Just stay healthy.

Yates holds 37 school records at North Carolina.


Texans Draft Picks: Texans Select Safety Shiloh Keo With Their First 5th-Rounder

The Texans grabbed another defensive back in the fourth round Saturday, adding Idaho strong safety Shiloh Keo.

Houston is certainly going to have a lot of turnover in the secondary in 2011, and Keo shouldn't have much trouble cracking what is an extremely weak safety depth chart. If you haven't already accepted it, just go ahead and carve it in stone that Troy Nolan is going to be Houston's starting strong safety in 2011. It's a virtual lock.

Keo is a physical presence on the back end, and - hold on to your faces, Texans fans - he's decent at covering tight ends and running backs. I said DECENT, not great! Looks like the Texans are getting away from the box safety, which we're all glad to hear.

Nolan may be on his way to starting in 2011, but don't count Keo out. He's got more natural talent than Nolan, but I'm sure in the minds of Texan coaches, Nolan showed enough flashes last year to at least start training camp as the penciled-in starter.

Keo is certainly a character fit for the Texans. He was a two-time team captain, a special teams captain, and is said to have great toughness and leadership skill.


Texans Draft Picks: Houston Nabs CB Rashad Carmichael After Trade Down In 4th

The Texans continued to shore up their embarrassingly-horrible defense with their second cornerback, Rashad Carmichael of Virginia Tech.

After trading up to get Miami standout corner Brandon Harris yesterday, the Texans seem committed to throwing more young bodies at the position in 2011. 

Carmichael isn't especially physical, and he's more of a zone coverage guy than a man-to-man press cover corner. That said, he has excellent top-speed and acceleration. Wait, what's that? The Texans got someone with make-up and closing speed? Okay, I'm on board. Carmichael also was known to be a bit of a playmaker at Virginia Tech, and some use the ever-popular "ballhawk" description when discussing his skill set.

With every corner added to the team, the Texans come closer and closer to pushing Brice McCain and Antwaun Molden out the door. McCain is also a speed-burner, but he also is terrible at pass coverage... something that's kind of important, you know.

The corner position looks like this currently, including free agents:

Glover Quin (likely moving to safety)
Kareem Jackson
Brandon Harris
Rashad Carmichael
Jason Allen
Sherrick McManis
Antwaun Molden
Brice McCain
Karly Paymah
...and possibly still a solid veteran free agent? Please?


2011 NFL Draft Picks: Texans Trade Up For Brandon Harris, Snag Brooks Reed In Second Round

The Texans defense took some more baby steps towards cromulence Friday during the second day of the 2011 NFL Draft. Both players will be counted on to contribute immediately, with Reed taking an outside linebacker spot and Harris looking like he can contribute immediately in the slot at worst. Depending on how Kareem Jackson deals with his second year in the league, it's easy to think that Harris could wind up starting on the outside opposite a potential free agent fit. 

These two draft picks are pretty hard to criticize. I'm not a Brooks Reed guy, because I don't think he can rush the passer enough to be worth the draft slot he was picked at, but the Texans desperately needed a linebacker at that pick and it's likely that they character-flagged Justin Houston. The knock on Harris is his height, but he has plenty of believers in the league and should be a decent addition to a secondary that needs every new chess piece it can get. His selection also probably sets into motion the chain of events where the Texans add a veteran cornerback and move Glover Quin to free safety.


2011 NFL Draft Grades: The Houston Texans Come Out Of Day Two Like Winners

Yesterday, I did a full winners and losers NFL post to wrap up the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Since I did not follow it as closely, I am going to eschew that for today (although I may revisit that next week). Before the delightful Chris Watkins steps in and finishes the draft, I did want to get in and talk about Houston's day two selections. Quite frankly, Houston's Texans were a winner today.

With the 42nd pick, Houston selected Arizona defensive end/outside linebacker Brooks Reed. The Texans then traded their 3rd and 5th round picks up to New England to select Miami (FL) cornerback Brandon Harris.

At first glance, new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips just added two guys who were mocked frequently in round one to his defense. Not only did he add talent to the defense, but they were at positions where holes were apparent.

Reed pencils in as an immediate starter at outside linebacker. How much did Houston like Reed? They rated him as the number two outside linebacker prospect behind Denver Bronco OLB Von Miller. For those still questioning the pick of J.J. Watt over Robert Quinn, there is your proof that Phillips did not think highly of The Mighty Quinn's ability to transition into the 3-4.

As was said earlier on this site and Battle Red Blog, Reed's a high motor guy. He's got a quick burst, good strength, and should be a force on the weakside as he's Wade's pick to be "the pass rusher." At least, I assume he will play the weakside given his deficiency in playing the run. Reed is a pure pass rusher, but he's much better value at 42 than say a similar player (Robert Quinn) at 11.

At 60, the Texans just picked up a cornerback who, over the past two collegiate seasons, has made 28 plays on the ball (passes defensed and interceptions), hasn't allowed a touchdown, and is a willing tackler (albeit not great). A tad short at 5'9'', Harris will slide into the slot initially. This move potentially allows Glover Quin to move to free safety, strengthening that position, while giving the Texans someone credible in the slot (unlike the Brice McCain disaster of last season). In today's NFL, teams need to have a good slot cornerback to deal with the growing number of three receiver sets so the pick offers good value in late round two.

In other words, it's not the end of the world if Harris never develops into an outside cornerback. I think he has the potential to do so, but we don't need to find out next season. I, of course, am operating under the widely assumed notion that Houston will actively look for a veteran to man the number one corner spot. All it took to move up to grab Harris was a fifth rounder, so it's a low cost that keeps the expectations relatively low. To be fair, if Harris can stay upright he'll probably surpass Houston fans' expectations of a rookie cornerback. /rimshot

Perhaps the odd thing is that the Texans stuck to their usual draft characteristics and many people are pleased with day two's selections. As always Houston came in looking to fill needs and selected the teammates of recent draft picks (last year taking Arizona defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and Miami linebacker Darryl Sharpton). Phillips has seemingly added another characteristic to the draft mix as every player has the description of a non-stop motor and someone who works extremely hard on and off the field. It is apparent that Phillips wants to attack for the entire game and wants players who are self-motivated. Every pick has the fingerprints of Wade on them and that is a great thing for a defense that needs a fast turnaround.

Judging by the reactions on blogs and message boards, tonight gave many fans the feeling a draft should - hope.

Keep your screens on SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for day three coverage of the NFL Draft. Your Texans will be up early in the fourth round as fans hope for a safety (like Quinton Carter or Tyler Sash) or a nose tackle (like Jerrell Powe).


2011 NFL Draft News: Texans DB Coach Joseph Praises Brandon Harris' Football IQ

The Houston Texans made their first move to correct last year’s poor secondary play by trading back into the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft for Miami cornerback Brandon Harris. Harris is only 5’9 1/2, but has a lot of experience against top-flight competition at Miami and was one Greg Cosell’s favorite cornerbacks in the draft. Texans defensive backs coach Vance Joseph thinks that they have found someone in Harris who can come in and battle for playing time right away:

"When you watch this kid play, he plays like a five- or six-year NFL vet. His route recognition, his football IQ, was very, very high. When you meet the kid, he’s energetic. He’s a pro already. He’s going to fit right in. This kid, I’m excited about his future because his pro-ready from a mindset point of view. He’s played a lot of football. He’s played in the slot. He’s played outside. He’s played against top competition, so I don’t see a problem for him coming here and playing."

Certainly it wouldn’t be hard to crack the Texans’ cornerback rotation considering how bad they were last year, but with (hopefully) some improvement from Kareem Jackson, as well as a potential free agent signing at corner that will bump Glover Quin to safety, the Texans have the potential to flip a lot of the secondary’s weaknesses around if everything goes right.

The Texans will start off next round picking 105th overall, eighth overall in the round. Then, barring a trade up, will wait until the sixth round to pick again.


Texans Continue To Add High Motor Players With Brooks Reed

The Houston Texans selected defensive end/linebacker Brooks Reed out of Arizona to be the missing link outside in their new 3-4 defense. Texans linebackers coach Reggie Herring was made available to the media after the pick and praised Reed for his motor, speed, and strength:

(on whether he expects a nonstop motor from Brooks Reed) "I think it’s pretty much his trademark. What we saw in Brooks Reed and in trying to make the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4, you have to start with your front. There are some changes that need to be made. What he does is gives us somebody that has exceptional play strength, exceptional play speed. He’s a mature, physical player at this level right now. In the NFL transition from college, play strength and play speed is probably the biggest adjustment. What he possesses right now, along with the fact of what you mentioned with a great motor and great work ethic, he gives you a chance early to make that transition.

The Texans seem really enticed by Reed’s athletic profile and short burst, which is totally consistent with their previous draft philosophies. Reed will slot in on the outside of the Texans 3-4 defense, alongside Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans, and Connor Barwin.

Apparently he was the second-rated linebacker on the Texans board, behind only Von Miller. So that’s something they can hang their hat on.


Texans Draft Picks: Houston Trades Up, Takes CB Brandon Harris

The Houston Texans sent their 3rd and 5th round picks to the New England Patriots for the 60th pick overall. With their newly acquired 2nd rounder, the Texans selected Miami (FL) cornerback Brandon Harris.

Well, the first thought is that Glover Quin is also your new starting free safety. Harris will likely man the nickel spot behind Kareem Jackson and a future free agent. A guy who was touted at first round talent, Harris slid down the draft board, in part due to the run at the quarterback and running back position.

Coming from one of the nation’s best past defenses, Brandon Harris brings a nice skill set to Houston. Slightly undersized but he has good speed and athletic ability and should progress nicely in the slot. He’s got talent and that is what matters.

I like the pick, I like the price they gave up for the pick, and I will never complain about getting someone from The U.


Texans Draft Picks: Houston Selects OLB Brooks Reed In Second Round

With the No. 42 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected outside linebacker Brooks Reed out of Arizona to fill their 3-4 rush linebacker void. Reed had 6.5 sacks and 47 tackles in 2010, and will be counted on to fill a role that most thought that Wade Phillips would address in the first round.

Reed was not a highly regarded pick by the SackSEER system, which thinks that he didn't have enough college production or the elite measureables to gather sacks in the NFL. It projects him to have just 15.1 in his first five years. 

With two front seven players picked in the first two rounds, the Texans will now likely try to address the secondary in the next few rounds. The safety and cornerback positions could both use new blood. The Texans could also conceivably look at wide receiver, another linebacker, or the offensive line.

Houston's next pick will come at 73rd overall, the ninth pick of the third round.

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