It's that time of year where the NBA season is wrapping up, and the baseball season is starting. In other words, for Houston, both the Rockets and Astros are out of playoff contention.
So, we turn to the Texans, because that always works out. (Okay, this "positive" entry isn't starting off well. Let's try this again.)
As always, there are a ton of questions heading in to this month's NFL Draft. Texans fans are mentally-prepared to be disappointed, but what if things shake out the way the Texans (or, their fans) want?
Here's an attempt at a "realistic" Best Case Scenario Mock Draft for the Texans. Realistic meaning that no, Patrick Peterson nor Marcell Dareus are going to fall to #11, no matter how much you cover yourself in fairy dust. Of course, no mock draft is actually realistic in any way, but you get the gist. Lots of offensive players off the board (especially QBs) would make for great situation for Houston to be in:
1. Carolina - Cam Newton, QB
2. Denver - Marcell Dareus, DL
3. Buffalo - Von Miller, OLB
4. Cincinnati - Blaine Gabbert, QB
5. Arizona - Patrick Peterson, CB
6. Cleveland - AJ Green, WR
7. San Francisco - Da'Quan Bowers, DE
8. Tennessee - Nick Fairley, DT
9. Dallas - Tyron Smith OT, or Anthony Castonzo, OT
10. Washington - Jake Locker, QB or any remaining QB.
This puts the Texans sitting about as pretty as they could possibly be sitting in this draft. Here are some options, in order of my personal preference:
1. (tie) Robert Quinn, OLB
A 2011 Texans' Mock Draft favorite. I think he'll be gone, but in this scenario - there he is. Yes, the Texans have a TON of defensive holes that could be plugged in a trade-down scenario, but to get an instant-impact guy in Quinn that they would not, in my opinion, get in a guy like Aldon Smith - might be the best course of action.
1. (tie) Trade down
With three QBs off the board, and the Minnesota Vikings set to pick after Houston, the Texans have juice in this spot. The Vikings are certainly in need of a QB, especially with no free agency happening prior to the draft. Other QB-needy teams may want to move in front of the Vikes and pull the trigger. There are also players the Texans would have direct interest in that could be targets for trade-up from other teams, especially North Carolina's Robert Quinn.
Possible mid-to-low first round targets for this scenario:
Phil Taylor, NT
Aldon Smith, OLB
Muhammad Wilkerson, DL
Akeem Ayers, OLB
Stephen Paea, DT
Aaron Williams, DB
3. (tie) Cameron Jordan, DE
Could add versatility to the line and give the Texans some very exciting rotational possibilities. The closer we get to draft day, the more and more I like Cam Jordan. I've had this feeling a while, but I'm a borderline shill for the guy at this point.
3. (tie) Julio Jones, WR
The current Texans would never, ever make this pick - but I'd be all for it if Quinn is off the board. Andre Johnson barely made it through last year and didn't even play in every game. Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones took steps back. If you don't improve your offense by standing pat - you're getting worse.
5. Phil Taylor, NT
Yep, Phil Taylor. At 11. I'd be ECSTATIC if the Texans were to pull Taylor in after a trade-down, but depending on how the top 10 shakes out, I wouldn't be opposed to the idea of Houston "reaching" for a potential difference-maker of a NT in Taylor. The monumental shift in defensive philosophy alone would be enough to get a lot of Texans fans on board with this one - but I realize that's not necessarily a reason to get excited about this pick. It is too high for Taylor, but he will NOT be around in the second round.
6. Prince Amukamara, CB
I'm not at all a fan of the Texans picking a CB in the early rounds, but the team would probably love to have the option. I'd feel much more comfortable with him this far down the list of choices.
7. JJ Watt, DE
I can't get on board with this pick, but I'm happy to be able to put it this far down my list of preferences, similar to Prince. On draft day, he'll probably be a lot closer to the top of the list than I'd like.