Draft grades are a lot like mock drafts: Everybody’s got them, even though they never end up being totally accurate. One or two days after a draft is about three or four years too early to truly evaluate how each team’s class panned out.
But that doesn’t make draft grades any less fun to look at. At the very least, draft grades can provide an indication of the value of each team’s picks, as well as a rating of how teams addressed their perceieved needs.
The probably-too-early-reviews on the Texans’ 2011 draft were quite favorable, with As and Bs being handed out pretty much across the board. Here’s a look:
Caplan: “Texans general manager Rick Smith finally started to address the Texans’ woeful defense and he did so with the first five selections. The first two draftees should see plenty of time as rookies and the next two could start down the line. Yates could be veteran quarterback Matt Schaub’s eventual replacement in a few years.”
Williams: “The Texans, who ranked 30th in total defense, including 32nd against the pass, got better by using by using their first five picks on defenders. Wade Phillips got some critical pieces for his conversion to a 3-4, addressing every level of the defense.”
Prisco: “They were dreadful on defense last season, but their top four picks should help change that. The first three all could be starters as rookies. Wade Phillips had to be happy. The Texans had a good draft.”
McClain: “RICK SMITH USED THE FIRST FIVE PICKS TO FORTIFY THE DEFENSE. J.J. WATT, BROOKS REED AND BRANDON HARRIS SHOULD PLAY SIGNIFICANT ROLES AS ROOKIES, ESPECIALLY IN PASSING SITUATIONS WHEN ALL THREE COULD BE ON THE FIELD AT THE SAME TIME. SHILOH KEO, A VICIOUS HITTER, SHOULD STAND OUT ON SPECIAL TEAMS.”
Walter: “Houston’s goal for the 2011 NFL Draft was simple: Find as much talent for Wade Phillips’ defense as possible. Mission accomplished. The Texans made great selections throughout the entire weekend. J.J. Watt will function as Phillips’ Phil Hansen, while Brooks Reed and Brandon Harris were steals in Round 2. Houston’s defense will no longer be the laughing stock of the NFL. This team just improved exponentially, and at this point, I think it’ll be a huge upset if the Texans don’t make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.”
Bell: “In using their first five picks to help new coordinator Wade Phillips revive a suspect defense, the Texans impacted all three levels with DE J.J. Watt, LB Brooks Reed and CB Brandon Harris.”
Lande: “Love those defensive players with their first five picks. If J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed and Brandon Harris are all legit, they could finally make the playoffs.”
Kiper: “It’s the prospects who get the red carpet treatment here in New York, but it’s Wade Phillips who got the carpet laid out for him in this draft. The new defensive coordinator for the Texans got a lot of new toys to work with, and I think Houston did a solid job in terms of value in addressing what was simply a bad defense in 2010. Watt is a versatile defensive end who will fit that 3-4 scheme and Reed is the outside rusher they needed. The Texans then went to the secondary, a disaster in 2010, adding Harris with a particularly good value pick, then Carmichael and Keo. I would have liked to have seen another wide receiver in the mix, but I love the pick of Yates, who could be a good one if given time to develop. With Matt Schaub there, he should get plenty of clipboard time.”
Rang: “In fielding one of the league’s worst defenses — and certainly the NFL’s least-reliable tackling units — the Texans went to work on draft day investing their first five picks on that side of the ball. Even before drafting Wisconsin defensive end with the No. 11 overall pick, the Texans used the equivalent of a first-round pick in adding Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator. His impact will be every bit as important to Houston’s improvement defensively as Watt — though the former Badger is a prototypical five-technique defensive end. I’m not as high on Arizona’s Brooks Reed as some, but he does give the Texans competition with Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin as threats off the edge. The Texans did get nice value in former ACC cornerbacks Brandon Harris (Miami) and Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech) later in the draft and took a quarterback in North Carolina’s T.J. Yates who demonstrated the leadership and intelligence that could someday make him a surprise starter in the NFL. “
Rosenthal/Silva: “The Texans took a risk going with front seven players (J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed) with their first two picks when the secondary needed so much help, but we can’t kill either pick because this team needs defenders period. (We are worried Reed’s draft stock was inflated.) This team has not drafted defense consistently, which is why they spent their first five picks helping new coordinator Wade Phillips. It’s an uneven approach that speaks to this organization’s desperation.”
Tags: 2011 NFL Draft, Brandon Harris, Brooks Reed, J.J. Watt, Rick Smith, Roc Carmichael, Shiloh Keo, T.J. Yates, Wade Phillips
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