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Texans’ 2011 draft grades: Mostly As and Bs

Posted by Nick Scurfield on May 2, 2011 – 5:06 pm

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:

Adam Caplan, FOXSports: A

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.”

Charean Williams, Fort-Worth Star Telegram: A

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.”

Pete Prisco, CBS: A

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.”

John McClain, Houston Chronicle: A-


Walter Football: A-

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.”

Jarrett Bell, USA Today: B+

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.”

Russ Lande, Sporting News: B+

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.”

Mel Kiper, ESPN: B

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.”

Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout: B

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. “

Gregg Rosenthal/Evan Silva, NBC Sports: C+

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.”

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From 11 to 254: The Texans’ 2011 draft class

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 6:21 pm

The Texans had eight picks in the 2011 NFL Draft, from No. 11 overall in the first round to the “Mr. Irrelevant” pick at No. 254 at the end of the seventh round.

Here’s a look at their 2011 draft class:

Round 1, Pick 11 (11th overall): J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Round 2, Pick 10 (42nd overall): Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
Round 2, Pick 28 (60th overall): Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Fla.)
Round 4, Pick 30 (127th overall): Roc Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech
Round 5, Pick 13 (144th overall): Shiloh Keo, S, Idaho
Round 5, Pick 21 (152nd overall): T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina
Round 7, Pick 12 (214th overall): Derek Newton, OT, Arkansas State
Round 7, Pick 51 (254th overall): Cheta Ozougwu, OLB, Rice

Defensive players: 6 (1 DE, 2 OLBs, 2 CBs, 1 S)
Offensive players: 2 (1 QB, 1 OT)

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Texans draft Ozougwu with Mr. Irrelevant pick

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 5:37 pm

With the 254th and final pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Texans have made a local product this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant.” They picked Cheta Ozougwu, a defensive end from Rice University by way of Alief Taylor High School in southwest Houston.

Ozougwu (6-2, 255) likely projects as an outside linebacker in the Texans’ 3-4 defense. He was first-team All-Conference USA in 2010 and 11 had career sacks. He also had a 3.41 GPA at Rice while majoing in economics and was one of 30 candidates for the 2010 Lowe Senior CLASS Award.

Ozougwu is the second Mr. Irrelevant in Texans history. The first was defensive tackle Ahmad Miller in 2002, the team’s inaugural season. Miller didn’t make it out of training camp, but there have been a few successful Mr. Irrelevants in recent years.

Texans general manager Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak will wrap up the draft in a press conference in just a few minutes. Watch it live on Texans TV.

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Reviewing Texans’ two trades in 2011 draft

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 4:47 pm

Since there are only compensatory picks remaining in the 2011 draft and compensatory picks cannot be traded, general manager Rick Smith and the Texans will finish the draft having made two trades.

Here’s a look at them, including which picks they gave up, which picks they acquired and which players were taken at each spot.

Trade 1 (with New England Patriots)

Pick acquired
No. 60 overall (second round): Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

Picks traded
No. 73 overall (third round): Steven Ridley, RB, LSU
No. 138 overall (fifth round): Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU

Trade 2 (Washington Redskins)

Picks acquired
No. 127 overall (fourth round): Roc Carmichael, DB, Virginia Tech
No. 144 overall (fifth round): Shiloh Keo, S, Idaho
No. 152 overall (fifth round): T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

Picks traded
No. 105 overall (fourth round): Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
No. 178 overall (sixth round): Alrdick Robinson, WR, SMU

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Texans draft Arkansas St. OT Newton at No. 214

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 3:44 pm

With the 214th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Texans have selected Arkansas State offensive tackle Derek Newton.

Newton (6-5, 311) was first-team All-Sun Belt in 2010 and second-team all-conference in 2009. He started his college career at Hinds Community College in Mississippi. Newton ran a 5.01 40-yard dash at the Combine and put up 24 reps in the bench press along with a 25.5-inch vertical jump.

The Texans’ next pick in the draft will be the last pick of the entire draft, the Mr. Irrelevant selection at No. 254 overall.

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Yates already familiar with Texans’ offense

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 1:37 pm

Quarterback T.J. Yates, picked by the Texans at No. 152 overall in the fifth round, said that the offense he ran at North Carolina was based heavily on the Texans’ offense, using similar route patterns and passing schemes.

“When we were going through this past offseason in Carolina, we watched a ton of Texans film from a few years ago because we were running a lot of the same offensive schemes and stuff,” Yates said. “Our offenses are extremely similar. It’s fun to watch that stuff on film and see yourself as well as what Matt Schaub does on the field. I feel like I’m pretty prepared going into this offense.”

Yates is excited to learn “everything about being an NFL quarterback” under Schaub in Houston.

“He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and I can’t wait to get behind him and absolutely learn everything I can from him,” Yates said.

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Texans draft UNC QB Yates at No. 152

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 12:49 pm

With the 152nd pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Texans have selected North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates.

Yates (6-4, 220) is the first offensive player drafted by the Texans this year. He was a four-year starter at UNC and is the school’s all-time leading passer. He’s the sixth quarterback drafted by the Texans in team history, the first since Alex Brink in the seventh round in 2008.

In just a few minutes, check out a live presser with coaches’ commentary on Yates and the rest of the Texans’ last three picks right here.

The Texans have two picks remaining in the 2011 draft: Nos. 214 and 254 in the seventh round.

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Keo: “I can play everything”

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 12:40 pm

We just heard from a very excited Shiloh Keo on the phone via conference call.

Shiloh, the Texans’ fifth-round pick at No. 144 overall, was watching the draft with his family in Seattle.

“It’s awesome, man,” he said of being drafted by the Texans. “Unbelievable. I had the privilege to play underneath Wade Phillips at the East-West game. I loved the way he coached and felt like I had a great appearance and showing for him and was so excited that, ‘Hey, there’s a chance I might have made that guy like me.’ It just so happened he decided to draft me today. I’m so thankful and so blessed. It’s just awesome. I couldn’t have gone to a better team.”

Shiloh played safety at Idaho and also returned punts and kickoffs. He said that he even could play outside linebacker if the Texans want him to.

“I can play everything,” he said. “I’m ready to ocme up into the box. I’m ready to be deep and play centefield. I think that I’m very versatile in my game and I’m ready for all positions right now.”

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Texans draft Idaho S Keo at No. 144

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 12:29 pm

With the 144th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Texans have selected Idaho safety Shiloh Keo.

Keo (5-10, 192) was coached by Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips at the East-West Shrine Game in January. He started 50 of 55 career games at Idaho, recording 358 tackles with one sack and 11 interceptions. He caused three fumbles and recovered six others.

The Texans are on the clock again soon at No. 152 overall. After that pick, check out a live presser with coaches’ commentary on the Texans’ last three picks right here.

The Texans have three picks remaining today: No. 152 in the fifth round and Nos. 214 and 254 in the seventh.

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Texans draft Va. Tech DB Carmichael at No. 127

Posted by Nick Scurfield on April 30, 2011 – 11:34 am

With the 127th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Texans have selected Virginia Tech defensive back Rashad Carmichael.

Carmichael (5-10, 192) started 27 of 54 career games at Virginia Tech, recording 10 interceptions and 16 passes defensed. He was first-team All-ACC in 2010. Nicknamed “Rock,” he ran a 4.43 and 4.45 in the 40 at his pro day and had a 33-inch vertical jump.

Carmichael is the Texans’ third current player from Virginia Tech, joining left tackle Duane Brown and linebacker Xavier Adibi.

We’ll be hearing from Carmichael via conference call soon. A Texans coach will address the media about him in a press conference at Reliant Stadium in just a few minutes. Watch that presser live right here. (UPDATE: There won’t be a presser until after the Texans’ two fifth-round picks, since they’re coming up shortly.)

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