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2011 NFL Draft Thread: Is Martez Wilson The Answer To The Texans' Draft Doomsday Scenario?

We’re roughly about a month away from the 2011 NFL Draft, and this is about the time where a team’s big board is being refined. Pro days are wrapping up, the Combine’s in the books, All-Star games have long since come and gone, and 2010 season tape has been broken down to death.

The question for Houston Texans fans is a simple one: Who will the franchise take 11th overall? Do they sit and pray that Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara or Texas A&M OLB Von Miller fall into their laps? Do they try and convert a defensive end like North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, or Missouri’s Aldon Smith? Or do they simply take the best player available such as Alabama WR Julio Jones?

Of course, the answer seems obvious out of that list, but what happens if Miller, Amukamara, and Jones are taken in the top 10? What happens if all that’s left is a bunch of potential converts that, frankly, no one seems uber-excited about? It’s a question I’ve pondered many, many times as we get closer to Draft day, but the answer I’ve come up with has only come recently (and reminded of thanks to some of the fellows over at Battle Red Blog).

Houston fans, add a new name to your draft mix and meet Illinois ILB Martez Wilson. 

If not for Miller and Nevada OLB Dontay Moch, Wilson would’ve been the defensive show at the NFL Combine. At 6’4’’ and 250 pounds, Wilson ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, benched 23 reps, and had a 36’’ vertical leap in a display of athleticism that was downright incredible (and on par with a certain linebacker who may be the best in the league).

Last season, the Fighting Illini ILB recorded 112 tackles including 11.5 for a loss and 4 sacks from the inside linebacker position. He forced three fumbles, picked off a pass, broke up four more passes, and blocked a kick in his best collegiate season (earning the nod as first-team All-Big Ten ILB from the media in the process). In a trait that the Texans admire, Wilson was also chosen as a team co-captain in nine games last season. That stat sheet combined with his Combine numbers leads one to believe that he could man the inside or outside linebacker spot in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense.

Many mocks are predicting Wilson goes anywhere from 24-40. What this could mean for the Texans is that they could have a very good plan B if the prospect they want isn’t there at 11, and they want to move back a little bit. Wilson could also be the kind of player that Houston may want to consider moving up for as well (if they took Amukamara 1st and wanted to move up from their 2nd round pick).  

At a time when we’re looking for answers, I’ll add a few more questions into this draft process. Do you like Wilson more than any of the DE/OLB hybrids? Do you like Wilson as insurance in case DeMeco Ryans or Brian Cushing can’t regain their stellar forms? Putting aside when you draft him, is Wilson worth considering for your Houston Texans?

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.