Originally written April 24, 2012 on State of the Texans:
With the NFL draft closing in, I had to put together my draft wish list going into Thursday’s big day, the NFL Draft. I have compiled a list I have thought out and hopefully ONE will come true on draft day. You will see that there are some specifics, but in some cases there are some players that I would really like to see in a Texans’ uniform. The Texans’ front office has made it clear that they want to get faster and more explosive, and with that I have put together some thoughts. Here is my wish list. Let me explain my wish list with you. 1. Quality @ 26 Look this might seem a cop-out but let’s be honest, this pick could go any direction. We have heard all the names but be assured this pick will be one who will see considerable amount of playing time. I hate to say the someone like Coby Fleener makes sense because of the issues he could cause in the middle of the field. (I can’t even believe I am even thinking about Fleener as an option right now.) Also with the premium on pass rush, players like Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry make the Texans deeper at a thin outside linebacker position and give them a nice rotation with their addition. Whatever is taken at 26, I just want a player who can be an immediate difference maker for the Texans. Also the idea of Janoris Jenkins at #26 should not scare anyone.  Yes, he has had some off the field trouble. Jenkins is a top 10 talent that looks like he could slide to the late first or second round and picking him up at this spot is tremendous value.  With that….   2. Wide Receiver, #1 (a)/ 2 This also goes with the #26 pick, but the Texans definitely need to find their future wide receiver. Don’t know if the Texans need to find the player who is going to take Andre Johnson’s place in 5 years, but they need to at least focus on finding a guy that could be a #1 (a) or #2 wide receiver in the future. If that wide receiver could turn into something more down the road even better, but find Johnson a compliment and someone to be in position to take over Kevin Walter’s position in 2013. This receiver could be a developmental player that can be used when needed and brought slowly along. Wide receivers like Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle, Brian Quick, Alshon Jeffery and Mohammed Sanu come to mind for this role.   3. Wide Receiver, Slot To me this is the receiver that could get more snaps offensively than any other player drafted. Many analyst say that the Texans don’t run many three wide receiver sets so a slot wide receiver is not needed. The Texans have never had a true slot threat and adding one could open up more formations for Gary Kubiak to implement on game day. Another weapon at Matt Schaub’s disposal could be dangerous for opposing defenses and could help take some attention off of Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Also this receiver could add value if he can return kicks.  Look for players like Kendall Wright, Joe Adams, T.Y. Hilton and Devon Wylie to add speed to the middle of the field.   4. Big NT, 330+ There has been a consensus that Wade Phillips likes small nose tackles.  He has had every shape and size at the nose tackle position since he has been coaching in the NFL. With the strike shorten season, the Texans were behind the eight ball and had to play the hand they were dealt. The nose tackles were better than expected, but Shaun Cody can not play every snap and Earl Mitchell is not a nose tackle by trade. Mitchell could easily provide some depth at the defensive end for the unsigned Tim Bulman. Adding a 330 plus pound nose tackle will make inside linebackers happy players and provide some much needed protection from offensive lineman. If there is one gut feeling this is it, the Texans MUST add size to the middle of their defense and there are two targets who have been on our radar since day one, Alameda Ta’Amu and Hebron Fangupo.   Individual Players (Second and Third Day Prospects)   5. Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia One of the hardest stories to believe, but Bruce Irvin’s voyage to the NFL has been one for the ages. A former high school wide receiver, Irvin had to find a position in junior college and ended up at defensive end. Irvin is one of the most gifted players off the edge, who right now is strictly a pass rusher. If the Texans have a chance to add Irvin to the mix, he will not disappoint on passing downs. There might be some questions about his past but it appears he has risen from a tough life and put himself with a bright future in the NFL.     6. Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma, . One of the more athletic offensive tackles in the draft and could be a late second or early third day draft pick. Stephenson at 6’5″ and 315 lbs., he can pass protect with the best of them and can move for his size.  How well can he move?  He ran a 4.94 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He has the tools to be a  solid player in the NFL and not considered a mauler.  He is more of a technician. He could help the offensive line get more athletic and develop to become a starter within the coming years.     7. Trumaine Johnson, DB, Montana Not well-known coming into the draft because of playing in Montana, “Tru” Johnson has the complete makeup for a quality defensive back in the NFL. Projected to be a safety in the NFL, Johnson with his 6’2″ and 204 lbs. frame could still possibly contribute at the cornerback position. He can tackle and does well in coverage but his real value could come covering bigger targets (WR, TE) in certain defensive packages. To make him even more valuable, he has returned kicks when needed at Montana and adding him to the Texans’ roster would make it deeper in-depth at multiple positions.     8. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida The Texans are looking for another running back and, with Arian Foster and Ben Tate under contract for sometime, adding a player like Chris Rainey could open up the offense even more. If the Texans are looking for more speed to put on the field, Rainey out of the back field could be dangerous. Considered as a “Percy Harvin” type of player, Rainey could create mismatches against defenses. If the Texans want to become more dangerous offensively, Rainey could line up in the slot if needed, and not to mention return kicks also.     9. Evan Rodriguez, TE, Temple Don’t be surprised if the Texans are looking for another tight end on draft day and with no full back on the roster it is probably safe to say that James Casey is that guy. Evan Rodriguez has been compared to “Aaron Hernandez” and has the set to make it happen in the pass catching department. Considered more of a H-Back, Rodriguez could be a sleeper offensive weapon late in the draft. He could be moved around in the formation, but one thing is for sure, he will have to become a better inline run blocker.     10. Ron Brooks, DB, LSU Not many starts under his belt, but when Ron Brooks hits the field he is an “Impact” player. He looks more comfortable in the slot but he can blitz, cover and tackle with the best of them. Buried behind All-Americans at LSU, Brooks took advantage of his opportunities and made plays on the field. He can immediately contribute on special teams and possibly develop as a slot or maybe #2 cornerback if given the time to work on his craft. Skill and speed wise, he has all the tools to be on an NFL roster.  He will be available late at some point.       You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans and is a draft analyst on Sideline Scouting          

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