2013 HOUSTON TEXANS PREVIEW
June 10, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
2013 HOUSTON TEXANS PREVIEW
LAST YEAR: 12-4, First in the AFC South, lost in divisional round
HEAD COACH: Gary Kubiak
It’s perhaps time for the Houston Texans to put up or shut up. Fans in Houston are ready for the team to get past the first couple of rounds and then hit the wall. How about a trip to the AFC Championship Game?
Houston was one of the quieter teams in free agency and really didn’t make a big splash in the draft, so it appears they are happy with the status quo. The move they did make was the signing of veteran DB Ed Reed. Reed will be a huge upgrade to the 16th rated pass defense in the NFL. Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins was selected in the first round to help take some pressure off of Andre Johnson.
Now the question is, will Reed and Hopkins be enough to get Houston to the next level? Matt Schaub will now have two excellent receivers to throw to in Johnson and Hopkins and has one of the best RB’s in the NFL in Arian Foster. The offensive line is as good as any in the NFL. Greg Jones was brought in from Jacksonville to help block for Foster. Will Schaub be able to elevate is game with all of this talent around him? This may be the season to see if Schaub can be a playoff caliber quarterback.
The defense is led by JJ Watt, the reigning defensive player of the year in the NFL. There is no doubt Watt was the most dominating defensive player in the league in 2012. Now Houston must find someone to compliment Watt. They lost DE Conner Barwin to Philadelphia in free agency. Now the pressure is on Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus to be more productive. LB Brian Cushing is back and that will help, but the Texans have holes on this defense.
Gary Kubiak was on the hot seat until he managed to win back to back division titles. His job security may still be in doubt if Houston doesn’t make a jump to the next level. The NFL is like any other league, what have you done for me lately?
2013 HOUSTON DRAFT:
Texans 2013 draft picks
Round 1 – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson, #6
Hopkins is the most game-ready of all the WRs in this draft as far as I’m concerned. He plays with consistency of effort on run plays as well as passing plays and he is a natural pass catcher. Clemson used him on all three levels of the field which is important considering that the Texans passing game is set up to take advantage of all three levels (short, intermediate and deep).
Hopkins is considered a good, not great athlete and his 40 time is fairly unimpressive (high 4.5s), he plays to his speed on the field. Kareem Jackson ran in the 4.4s but doesn’t play to that long speed when the pads are on. ”Nuk” Hopkins plays with good football speed and his route-running is solid enough that he should be able to get deep on CBs when asked.
Round 2 – D.J. Swearinger, SS, South Carolina, #36
I can tell you that I was hoping this pick would have been Kansas State ILB Arthur Brown and I’m betting the Texans were too, but the Ravens traded up and took Brown a spot early. By letting Glover Quin go and adding Ed Reed who will be 35 when the season starts, the Texans had to make safety a greater priority than they would have otherwise. I think this was a tad early for Swearinger, but he should be able to play in sub-packages right away.
Swearinger is a big hitter, but I think he’s a little limited in coverage. I know that South Carolina moved him around and allowed him to cover in the slot from time to time, but I don’t think he has the game speed or range to do that in the NFL. I do, however, think he can handle most TEs in coverage, but I see him as more of a box safety than anything.
Round 3 – Brennan Williams, RT, North Carolina, #73
To be fair, once you got past Terron Armstead and/or David Bakhtiari, I thought about four or five of the tackles were all kind of equal and I had a 4th on Williams until right up to the end of finalizing my rankings. Tackles are almost always drafted higher than their grade since they are so coveted.
Williams has good size and moves pretty well in space, but there are plenty of holes to his game in my opinion. Williams let’s his hands get way too wide in pass protection as you will see in the game below and he’s not as fluid with his change of direction as I would like to see. The change of direction is important because it helps tackles recover when DEs make inside moves or when that are stunts/twists at play.
North Carolina ran some outside zone plays from time to time, but they didn’t run zone scheme as a base. I don’t think it is a lock that Williams is the long-term RT of the future by any stretch. John Benton is one of the finest offensive line coaches around and I’m sure that he knows what he’s looking for, but I’m also sure he sees some of the same things that I see.
Round 3 – Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU, #99
This draft pick really shocked me to be honest. I’ve heard the rumblings around the league that Sam’s motor ran hot and cold and I heard from agents who recruited him that he was a real pain in the butt to deal with. I know that some teams were really turned off by Montgomery during the interview process. Forget all that – I just didn’t think he fit Wade’s scheme.
I remember speaking to a couple of LSU coaches who were at the Senior Bowl practices about both Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo and how they would fit into a 3-4 as OLB. Both coaches agreed that it would be a natural transition for Mingo, but that Montgomery was “definitely not a fit” because they didn’t think he could play in space. From an athletic standpoint, Montgomery is very average.
The Texans have talked about giving Montgomery a chance at the strong-side OLB spot which is where Brooks Reed is currently slotted. To play there, Montgomery would have to be able to drop into coverage and even cover TEs from time to time. I simply don’t see that. Now maybe Montgomery could fit into the WOLB spot where Mercilus is right now since that position doesn’t have to drop into coverage very often.
Montgomery is less talented as a pass rusher than Mercilus is, but he is more aggressive overall. In general, I think Montgomery could come in and play the run better than Mercilus starting tomorrow. Montgomery shows some pop when he gets his arms extended and gets into tackles. Wade Phillips’ knows who fits his defense better than anyone so I’m interested to see how this plays out.
Round 4 – Trevardo Williams, OLB, UConn, #48
Trevardo Williams has the potential to get reps fairly quickly in this defense thanks to his edge speed and his versatility. Williams lined up with his hand in the dirt as well as standing up and UConn used him with various twists just like Wade Phillips uses.
I would be very interested to see how Williams would hold up if he were moved to ILB. He gets downhill with very good quickness, but I just don’t know enough about his coverage or instincts to know whether or not he could do that. Gary Kubiak has stated that the Texans want to keep Brooks Reed at OLB, but we’ll see. With the lack of ILBs taken by the Texans, it wouldn’t shock me to see someone one of these OLBs get a look at that spot in camp.
Williams first couple of steps off the snap usually gives him the initial upper-hand over the offensive tackle in pass rush situations, but if he doesn’t turn the corner on the tackle, he usually has to rely on a play being extended in order to have a shot at getting to the QB. If the Texans can work with Williams on developing a spin move or just a more effective inside pass rush move, he could end up being a pass rushing factor fairly quickly.
Round 5 – David Quessenberry, San Jose State, #76
To tell you the truth, I had a 4th/5th on Quessenberry until just a couple of days before the draft and I downgraded him a little bit just because of his issues with core strength. I’m a fan of Quessenberry’s and I think this is a really good pick. Quessenberry can play tackle (as he did in college) or guard and he’s much more technically sound at this stage than Brennan Williams is.
The big problem for Quessenberry is that he just doesn’t have the core strength you are looking for in an offensive linemen. I love the athleticism and position flexibility he offers, but he’s going to have to prove that he can play with a little more functional strength than he showed during the season and at the Senior Bowl or he will end up being a career backup.
The Texans are talking as if they are going to let Quessenberry give it a go at tackle which means that Brennan Williams will be the more powerful tackle option while Quessenberry gives them a more fluid athlete. If Quessenberry struggles at all at tackle, he could become a swing tackle who also has the ability to bump down inside to guard. Good 5th round pick.
Alan Bonner, WR, Jacksonville St. - I never saw him before the draft process and didn’t talk to any teams about him at any point. I don’t have anything for you on Bonner, but Gary Kubiak seems to love him.
Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green - At 6’2/302, Jones has NT written all over him for the Texans. This is a great value pick for the Texans and shows a great understanding by Rick Smith of how to approach the NT position in this draft. Jones had 12.5 sacks in 2012 thanks to his quickness of the snap and great usage of hands. Jones’ arm over move fits in nicely with what Wade Phillips wants to see from his 1-gap NTs. Jones shows a similar motor to Earl Mitchell.
Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn - Say hello to your new Joel Dreessen. Griffin is a tough blocker will likely be groomed to fit into the offense in the same way that Dreessen did. He’s tall with long arms and is better at getting down the field than people might think. I wanted to see a TE a little earlier in the draft, but Griffin has a shot to make the team.
Four Texans Undrafted Free Agents of note
1. Cierre Wood , Notre Dame, Running back, 5’11/213 – Wood is one of my favorite 1-cut RBs in this entire draft in terms of late round talent. Wood doesn’t have to gear down to make his cuts and he’s got outstanding burst after planting his foot. I think Wood could be a steal as a runner in this scheme, but his issues with pass protection could hurt him.
2. Dennis Johnson, Arkansas,Running back, 5’7/196 - If you haven’t seen Johnson yet, wait until you do. He can stop on a dime and cut-back with ease. He played in some zone scheme at Arkansas so that’s a big advantage. Johnson also offers value as a pass catcher and a kick returner. Great short area quickness and balance and has a sturdy build.
3. Zach Boren, Ohio State, Fullback, 6’1/241 - Boren is a tough blocker who will go heads-up with any LB out there. The Texans may not keep two FBs on the roster, but Boren is the type of blocker that will get their attention.
4. Johnny Adams, Michigan State, Cornerback, 5’11/185 – Adams is a physical CB with three years of starting experience at Michigan State. He’s not as big as you might like, but he’s a good tackler and has the potential to make the team in Roc Carmichael’s place. Adams has some return ability as well.
2013 HOUSTON SCHEDULE
Sept. 9: at San Diego Chargers, 10:20 p.m.
Sept. 15: vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Sept. 22: at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Sept. 29: vs. Seattle Seahawks, 1 p.m.
Oct. 6: at San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 13: vs. St. Louis Rams, 1 p.m.
Oct. 20: at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Oct. 27: Bye
Nov. 3: vs. Indianapolis Colts, 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 10: at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Nov. 17: vs. Oakland Raiders, 1 p.m.
Nov. 24: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Dec. 1: vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m.
Dec. 5: at Jacksonville Jaguars, 8:25 p.m.
Dec. 15: at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Dec. 22: vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m.
Dec. 29: at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
2013 HOUSTON ROSTER
Unsigned Draft Picks