ORT, WR, G, OLB, DE
Round 1-Whitney Mercilus/OLB-DE
Round 3-DeVier Posey/WR
Round 3-Brandon Brooks/G
Round 4-Ben Jones/C
Round 4-Keshawn Martin/WR
Round 4-Jared Crick/DE
Round 5-Randy Bullock/K
Round 6-Nick Mondek/OT
ORT, WR (veteran), G (veteran)
The Texans were coming off of their first ever division championship, so their needs weren’t seemingly overwhelming carrying over from last season. However, four or five still needed to be addressed coming into this year’s NFL Draft.
Depth at outside linebacker wasn’t a huge needed, but it still needed to be addressed. And the selection of first-round pick OLB Whitney Mercilus fills the depth issue. Starting OLBs Connor Barwin (952 out of 1003 defensive snaps) and Brooks Reed (773 out of 1003 defensive snaps) played quite a bit of snaps last season, so Mercilus should, at the very least, be able to get snaps each game as the first OLB off the bench. Mercilus is known in scouting circles for his speed off the edge and proved to be a willing tackler. Mercilus, who had a monster junior season last year (57 combined tackles, 22.5 for loss, 9 forced fumbles, 16 sacks), played mostly with his hand down as a DE in college, so he’ll have to make the transition of standing up at the NFL level in the Texans’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
The Texans badly needed to add some depth at wide receiver. Third-round pick WR DeVier Posey is an intriguing prospect. He has a solid combination of size and run after-the-catch ability. However, various personnel evaluators knocked Posey for his game to game consistency. And Posey missed most of senior season due to suspension. Because the Texans released veteran WR Jacoby Jones after the draft, Posey should get a realistic chance to play early this season. Posey could wind up replacing veteran WR Kevin Walter in future seasons, who took a pay cut earlier this year.
Guard was another position lacking depth on offense for the Texans coming into this draft. And with that being the case, they selected G Brandon Brooks in the third round. Brooks is known in scouting circles for his really good size, but isn’t known as possessing great athleticism for an interior offensive lineman. Even with Brooks in the fold, the Texans still need to add a veteran guard with starting experience.
The fourth round produced three players for the Texans. The first selection, Ben Jones, should have been selected higher since he was one of the top centers available for this draft, but he lacked the athleticism of centers such as Peter Konz and Gino Gradkowski. Jones got a chance to see time at center and guard during Senior Bowl week back in January, so he figures to get a shot to back up at either position this season. Keshawn Martin was one of the better slot receivers available for this draft. But it should be noted that Martin had extensive experience returning punts (65 chances) and kicks (47 chances) in college, and both roles need upgrading with the Texans. The final fourth-rounder, DE Jared Crick, should have a legitimate shot to not only earn a roster spot as a rookie, but get into the rotation at the position right away due to a lack of depth. While he’s not known for his pass-rushing skills, Crick is known in scouting circles as a high-effort player who’s willing to play the run. A personnel source believes Crick has the ability to put on weight on his frame (6-4, 280), which is essential to the rookie’s ability to hold up playing in the Texans’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
With the kicking job open, the Texans addressed the vacancy with fifth-round pick Randy Bullock. The Texans believe he’ll be the long-term option at the position, but they signed journeyman K Shayne Graham after the draft to challenge him.
The final selection, sixth-rounder Nick Mondek, only had two years of experience on the offensive line. While he’s a true developmental player, Mondek has better than average athleticism for an offensive tackle.
Overall, the Texans should get two to four starters out of this draft by the time those players finish up their rookie deals. The one position which didn’t get addressed, but still needs to be looked at, is right tackle.