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2011 Shadow Draft: Plugging Away At The Defense

A shadow draft of the Houston Texans 2011 picks: Who would I have picked?

If you haven't seen one of these entries before, the basic premise of this post is borrowed from John Sickels at Minor League Ball, who every season would make a draft pick-for-pick alongside the Minnesota Twins. keeping the picks that he liked and discarding the ones he didn't for players he favored. I've run Shadow Drafts two years in a row now, picking where the Texans pick and seeing what I can draft from there.

I think the Texans are definitely beating me in 2009, as Brian Cushing and Glover Quin are solid contributors and Duane Brown has survived a poor rookie season to become a cromulent pass-blocking left tackle. My concerns about the offensive line in general were overthought, and probably based in the early days of Texans fanhood, where every year the offensive line was an injury away from a collapse. 

In 2010, I made a pick that is terrific for the Texans current defense, selecting Dan Williams over Kareem Jackson in the first round. The Texans are sticking with Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell in the middle and didn't make a move in the draft this year for even a developmental guy. But because of 2009 I'm still in a deep hole on defense--there are a lot of reasons to love the defensive line and a lot of reasons to hate the linebackers and defensive backs. So I'll be spending most of this draft working out there. Here's the roster I've got after two years of doing this:

QB: Matt Schaub, Dan Orlovsky, Matt Leinart
RB: Arian Foster, Derrick Ward, Vonta Leach, Steve Slaton, Andre Brown (09-4-126)
WR: Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, David Anderson, Dezmon Bricoe (10-6-187)
TE: Owen Daniels, Joel Dreessen, James Casey*
OT: Michael Oher (09-1-15), Eric Winston, Rashad Butler
OG: Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Mike Brisiel
C: Chris Myers, Matt Tennant (10-5-144), AQ Shipley (09-6-188)

DE: Mario Williams, Antonio Smith, Amobi Okoye
DT: Dan Williams (10-1-20), Geno Atkins (10-4-102), Shaun Cody, Chris Baker (09-7-223)
OLB: Connor Barwin, Eric Norwood (10-4-118), Dekoda Watson (10-6-197)
ILB: DeMeco Ryans, Kevin Bentley
CB: Amari Spievey (10-2-58), Brandon Ghee (10-3-81), Patrick Stoudemire (10-7-227)
FS: Rashad Johnson (09-3-77), Dominique Barber
SS: Chip Vaughn (09-4-112)

K: Neil Rackers
P: Nobody

Pretty ugly on defense once you get past the line. Ryans and Spievey are a pair of solid players, and some of the other guys have looked good in limited playing time, but that area needs a lot of reinforcement. 

So here's what I did this season:

1-11) Robert Quinn, outside linebacker, North Carolina
Texans pick: J.J. Watt, defensive end, Wisconsin

I feel like I've explained this pick many times already, but here we go again: after Von Miller, Quinn is the pass rusher with the most potential in this entire draft. He is not as low-floor as Watt is, but with the outside linebacker playing such an important role in Wade Phillips' defense, I think it's worth snagging the best pass rusher possible over all other needs. Quinn will line up behind Mario Williams. Resume wetting your pants, quarterbacks.

2-42) Rahim Moore, safety, UCLA
Texans pick: Brooks Reed, outside linebacker, Arizona

2-60) Martez Wilson, linebacker, Illinois
Texans pick: Brandon Harris, cornerback, Miami

Wait, I thought Harris was your favorite pick of the draft, McCown? What gives? He totally is. I just think it's much more likely that the Texans will sign a good free agent cornerback than a good free agent safety. Combine that with absolute need areas on my shadow Texans at inside linebacker and safety, and Harris gets squeezed out. I am already dreading not taking Harris, honestly. But I think both of these guys can start from Day one as well, and I don't think that's the case for anyone lower on the board at these positions. 

4-127) Davon House, cornerback, New Mexico
Texans pick: Rashard Carmichael, cornerback, Virginia Tech

I like Carmichael just fine, but I thought House would honestly be on the Texans board in the second round, and to snatch him here and give myself another good young corner? I'm thrilled. I might also be a bit emboldened here in that I think Green Bay has run some excellent drafts lately and am excited to see how they work House into their system.

5-144) Jacquizz Rodgers, running back, Oregon State
Texans pick: Shiloh Keo, safety, Idaho

With Steve Slaton damaged and broken, Andre Brown continuously hurt, and Derrick Ward more of a power back, I use this opportunity to address the fact that the Texans could use another third-down type in the mix. Rodgers is a hometown kid, had a very distinguished career, and I think he can be a Darren Sproles type in the NFL. Nothing against Keo, but I feel pretty good about this pick.

5-152) Chris Carter, linebacker, Fresno State
Texans pick: T.J. Yates, quarterback, North Carolina

Carter is probably my favorite lower round player in this draft, someone who can come in and provide an instant boost on pass rushing downs while he learns the linebacker position a little more thoroughly. With this, the shadow Texans will have four solid edge rushers to start their 3-4 defense with. After doing a little reading on Yates, I think he's a really good pick here as well, but I'm prioritizing defense over backup quarterback for the moment.

7-214) Greg Romeus, defensive end, Pittsburgh
Texans pick: Derek Newton, tackle, Arkansas

To me this is a clear case of best player available. Romeus was shaping up to be a first round pick before he got hurt last season, and I'll try to groom him as a one-gap defensive end in Wade Phillips scheme, because I sincerely doubt that Amobi Okoye makes it through training camp.

7-254) Mark Herzlich, linebacker, Boston College
Texans pick: Cheta Ozougwu, linebacker, Rice

I'm a sucker for human interest stories, sure, but I also think Herzlich could be a solid 3-4 inside linebacker for a few years. Yeah, he might eventually get re-injured, but I think with the last pick of the draft, there are much worse risks you could take. I don't have the luxury of having Daryl Sharpton around, and this is, to use Mike Mayock's words, "a kid I wouldn't want to bet against."

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