2011 NFL Draft Grades | Houston Texans
The Houston Texans finished with an extremely disappointing 6-10 record in 2010, due in large part to owning the league’s 30th-ranked defense. Defensive coordinator Frank Bush was fired the day after the final game of the regular season, and was promptly replaced with a more established defensive mind in Wade Phillips. So, naturally, the Texans were expected to focus primarily on finding defensive players with the ability to step in and contribute right away in the 2011 NFL Draft.
That’s exactly what they did. Houston took defensive players with each of their first five selections, highlighted by Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt with the 11th overall pick, and Arizona’s Brooks Reed at No. 43 overall.
Round 1, Pick 11: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
The Texans most commonly were linked to Missouri OLB Aldon Smith heading up to the draft, but with him having been taken seventh by San Francisco, they had to look elsewhere. Watt isn’t a bad consolation prize. The coaches will love his nonstop motor, and he proved himself to be one of the best overall athletes at the combine. Houston has been looking to upgrade on the defensive line for quite some time now, and Watt could prove to be a savvy choice at No. 11.
Round 2, Pick 42: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona
Reed was considered by many to be a possible first round pick, so the Texans had to be thrilled to see him fall into their laps midway through the second round. Houston has been in the market for a pass-rushing outside linebacker to slot opposite Connor Barwin in the new 3-4, and Reed could very well step in and be that guy. Great value for a first round talent.
Round 3, Pick 60 (from New England): Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)
Houston traded with New England to get up to No. 60, and used the pick on Miami cornerback Brandon Harris. Some believe Harris has the talent to be a first round type player, but he regressed a bit from his sophomore to his junior season. Houston used its first round pick last season on Alabama corner Kareem Jackson, who struggled mightily during his rookie season. Harris will likely see most of his time as a nickel corner to start.
Round 4, Pick 127 (from Washington): Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech
For the second straight pick, Houston addresses its area of biggest need. Carmichael has tremendous speed, having run a 4.43 40-yard-dash at the NFL combine. He has very good ball skills, but is still fairly raw with his overall technique. Lots of untapped potential here.
Round 5, Pick 144: Shiloh Keo, S, Idaho
Corner Glover Quin is expected to make the transition from corner to safety, but again, with how porous Houston’s pass defense was last season, you can never have enough depth. Keo is a fearless player that plays with very little regard for his personal well-being. Fortunately, NFL teams typically view this as a positive attribute. He isn’t the fastest guy in the world, but is fairly well-rounded otherwise.
Round 5, Pick 152 (from Washington): T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina
Matt Schaub is certainly entrenched as the franchise quarterback, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the future at a position as vital as QB. He obviously won’t be expected to contribute any time soon, which makes him a nice project. Yates has a very quick release and above average accuracy. His arm strength leaves something to be desired, but that’s an area in which passers can improve with time.
Round 7, Pick 214: Derek Newton, T, Arkansas State
Newton is a solid athlete, but he could stand to improve his overall strength. He got pushed around a fair amount during his time in college, but his footwork helps make up for it. Fortunately for the Texans, offensive line isn’t a major area of need, as Newton isn’t necessarily ready to play right away. This pick may have something to do with the impending free agency of backup tackle Rashad Butler.
Round 7, Pick 254: Cheta Ozougwu, DE/OLB, Rice
“Mr. Irrelevant” may be too small to play on the line at the next level, so he’ll likely be competing for a roster spot as an outside linebacker. Ozougwu has very good speed and has the ability to get around the edge with pretty good proficiency. As we touched upon earlier, the Texans are looking for depth at OLB.
Overall Grade: A-