May 3, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Review & Season Outlook: Houston Texans

#99 J.J. Watt, DE, Texans

*Click on a team's logo to go to their draft recap and season outlook page. A few will be posted each day in alphabetical order.

Houston Texans
Division: AFC South | Last Season Record: 12-4

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: The Texans beat the Bengals for the second straight year in the Wild Card Round, but were eliminated by the Patriots in the Divisional Round.

Adding another receiver across from Andre Johnson makes a lot of sense, and should happen in either the first or second round. Matt Schaub could use some more weapons.

They should also add another pass rusher after losing Conner Barwin this off-season. Also, they should look for an inside linebacker to pair with Brian Cushing, and they need to draft a right tackle at some point.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

Round 1

27. DeAndre Hopkins*, WR
Experience: Junior | School: Clemson
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 214 lbs.

Analysis: DeAndre Hopkins is a very reliable receiver, who should be a Roddy White type at the next level. He is the perfect complementary receiver to Andre Johnson, and a nice weapon for Matt Schaub. Also great value and they filled a big need.

Grade: A+

Round 2

57. D.J. Swearinger, FS
Experience: Senior | School: South Carolina
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 208 lbs.

Analysis: They did not have to take a safety is, but this is still a nice pick. Swearinger was a Day 2 lock, and is versatile enough to play in the slot and in the box. He could be a long-term replacement for Ed Reed.

Grade: B+

Round 3

89. Brennan Williams, OT
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 316 lbs.

Analysis: Based on talent, this is a good pick. However, it is a pretty obvious reach, but the good news is that if Williams can become more consistent, he can give them an upgrade at right tackle.

Grade: C+

95. Sam Montgomery*, DE/OLB
Experience: Junior | School: Louisiana State
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 262 lbs.

Analysis: How should I grade this pick? It's tough, because besides character concerns, Montgomery is a first round talent, and the Texans need a pass rusher. However, he's more of a power end than a 3-4 outside linebacker. He lacks the explosive first step and athleticism to make that transition, which wasn't really a concern when he weighed 245 lbs.

Grade: B-

Round 4

124. Trevardo Williams, DE/OLB
Experience: Senior | School: Connecticut
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 241 lbs.

Analysis: Trevardo Williams could have gone late in the second round, so another excellent value pick by Houston. The best part is, Williams is a much better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Grade: A+

Round 6

176. David Quessenberry, OT/OG
Experience: Senior | School: San Jose State
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 302 lbs.

Analysis: Loved this pick. Quessenberry was a potential Day 2 pick, so yet another steal for the Texans. Anytime you can get a potential starter in the 6th round that deserves an A+. Whether it be at right tackle or right guard, Quessenberry is versatile enough to play anywhere on the offensive line.

Grade: A+

195. Alan Bonner, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Jacksonville State
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 193 lbs.

Analysis: They needed receiver depth, but there were more talented receivers on the board. Alan Bonner wasn't widely viewed as a draftable prospect, so a definite reach in the 6th round.

Grade: C-

198. Chris Jones, NT
Experience: Senior | School: Bowling Green
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 301 lbs.

Analysis: Wade Phillips likes undersized nose tackles. Chris Jones could be a starter, and I'm all for finding starters in the late rounds.

Grade: A-

201. Ryan Griffin, TE
Experience: Senior | School: Connecticut
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 248 lbs.

Analysis: Slight reach, but the Texans needed another tight end. They probably should have tried to add one earlier, but Griffin will contribute early.

Grade: B-

2013 NFL Draft Overall Review:

Analysis: There were several picks that I loved by the Texans. They did a pretty fantastic job of finding value and filling some major needs.

DeAndre Hopkins is an ideal number two receiver across from Andre Johnson, though I wish the Texans would have added another receiver or two earlier.

The right side of the offensive line was a question mark, and they may have come away with two starters in Quessenberry and Williams.

Corner depth is something that could have been addressed, but it's not a huge issue. I would have also liked to see them find a starting inside linebacker in this draft.

Overall Grade: A-

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Dennis Johnson, RB
Experience: Senior | School: Arkansas
Height: 5-7 | Weight: 196 lbs.

Analysis: Very surprising that Dennis Johnson, who many believe was Arkansas's best running back, was not drafted. He is a mid-round talent who should make the roster and provide immediate running back depth.

Ray Graham, RB
Experience: Senior | School: Pittsburgh
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 199 lbs.

Analysis: Another UDFA steal, Ray Graham also should have been drafted. Both he and Dennis Johnson could make the roster and compete for playing time behind Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

Cierre Wood*, RB
Experience: Junior | School: Notre Dame
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 213 lbs.

Analysis: Yet another UDFA steal. Cierre Wood also should have been drafted. Dennis Johnson and Ray Graham will provide strong competition, but Wood is the more talented of the three.

George Winn, RB
Experience: Senior | School: Cincinnati
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 218 lbs.

Analysis: George Winn was viewed as more of a 7th round prospect, so it's a little less surprising that he went undrafted. However, that doesn't mean he can't beat out the three running backs above and make the Texans roster.

Johnny Adams, CB
Experience: Senior | School: Michigan State
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 181 lbs.

Analysis: Some scouts had Adams as a first round prospect before the season. That was very lofty, but I'm surprised that Adams went undrafted because he is very talented. He should make the roster, giving them much needed depth at corner.

Alec Lemon, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Syracuse
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 200 lbs.

Analysis: Lemon was very productive in his final season at Syracuse. I would not be surprised if he makes the team simply because the Texans lack depth at receiver.

Other Free Agent Signings

Zach Boren, FB/LB, Ohio State
A.J. Bouye, CB, Central Florida
Marlon Brown, WR, Georgia
Andy Cruse, WR, Miami (OH)
Ja'Gared Davis, LB, Southern Methodist
Kenny Demens, ILB, Michigan
Evan Frierson, LB, Illinois State
Travis Howard, CB, Ohio State
Willie Jefferson, OLB, Stephen F. Austin
Orhian Johnson, S, Ohio State
Alex Kupper, G, Louisville
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Texas A&M
Earl Okine, DE, Florida
Dann O'Neill, OT, Western Michigan
Andrew Shapiro, P, Fresno State
Michael Smith, WR, Connecticut
Jawanza Starling, SS, Southern California
Justin Tuggle, LB, Kansas State

2013 Season Outlook:

Analysis: Matt Schaub has to be more consistent, but he deserves some slack because he didn't have enough weapons to succeed in the past. Things could be different now.

Drafting DeAndre Hopkins in the first round was a no-brainer. His presence will take some pressure off of Andre Johnson, and will really help out Matt Schaub. Their depth at receiver, however, still needs to improve. Let's not forget about Owen Daniels, who actually was Schaub's second favorite target last season.

From left tackle to right guard, the Texans have three Pro Bowl caliber players. Duane Brown is the best left tackle in football, Wade Smith is coming off of an impressive year, and Chris Meyers is still very effective. Between their two draft picks on the offensive line, and current guards Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks, the right side should be much stronger this season.

We know how dominant J.J. Watt is, and at the other end spot they have the underrated Antonio Smith. They need to get more out of their nose tackles, however.

The Texans have several young pass rushers. Rookies Sam Montgomery and Trevardo Williams would have an easier transition to the NFL if there was a proven veteran in front of them. With the rookie pass rushers expected to have an impact, Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed should be even better this year.

Inside, the Texans have Brian Cushing and Darryl Sharpton as the starters. We know what a healthy Brian Cushing brings to the table, but Sharpton is unproven.

Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson form an impressive cornerback duo. I also like Brandon Harris to contribute more, and D.J. Swearinger potentially playing in the slot. Ed Reed isn't necessarily an upgrade over Glover Quinn at this point in his career, but is more of a natural play maker.

2013 Season Projection:

Analysis: Houston is currently picking 26th overall in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft. They chose 27th in this year's draft. The Texans are once again the favorites to win the AFC South, and are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Whether they get there or not, depends on if Matt Schaub can lead them there.

Projected Record: 12-4 (Worst Case) | 14-2 (Best Case)

Projected Finish: 1st in the AFC South; Result: Lose in the Divisional Round