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).