In defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' first season in Houston, his 3-4 defense has been a hit, as the Texans are ranked 3rd in the NFL against the run and 4rth against the pass, despite losing All-Pro DE/OLB Mario Williams for the season.
Even more impressive, he's doing it mostly with personnel more suited to the 4-3 alignment, which is why SBNation's first mock draft has the team selecting a 350-pound NT from Memphis, capable of being a run stuffer at the point of attack:
26. Houston Texans - Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Houston's defense has been great this season. Imagine what they'll do next year with a healthy Mario Williams and 350-pound guy who also possesses the athletic ability of a 300-pound defensive lineman at the nose tackle position.
SBN's Mocking The Draft highlighted Poe before the season began, noting that his athletic ability at his size (6'5 350) would make him an irresistible target for many 3-4 teams:
Dontari Poe (DT, Memphis) - Poe seems like the type of guy who will shoot up the boards as we move along in the process. His measurables (6'5 350 with decent mobility) are impressive. He has enticing upside and gives you the sense that he hasn't come close to tapping his full potential. He, like Ta'amu, will draw a lot of interest as a NT due to the prevalence of 3-4 defenses. Poe is a bit taller than you'd like in a NT (only Ted Washington has had a lot of success at 6'5, although several quality NT's have been 6'4) and struggles to keep his pads low. He will need a lot of coaching before he can be a reliable NFL defender, as his technique is pretty poor. However, his size, length and strength will be too much for some GM's to resist. Poe can really improve his stock by interviewing well, demonstrating coachability and excelling in the strength tests at the combine.
Phillips has shown the ability to develop players as a defensive coordinator, so Poe's relative lack of seasoning may not be the downside for the Texans that it is for many teams.
In 12 games for the Tigers, the junior has only 22 tackles and 1 sack. However, the nose tackle's primary job in a 3-4 defense is to absorb blockers and let the linebackers accumulate statistics.
For all the latest on the NFL Draft, head over to Mocking The Draft, and for more news and notes on the Texans, check out Battle Red Blog.