Mocking the Draft wants to introduce you to a new article series taking a closer look at each team's draft workings. The WarRoom articles will give you a glimpse at the recent draft history and the decision-making structure of each NFL team. We will also include our thoughts about the structure and draft history.
Offensive Scheme: The Texans have their version of the three-headed monster similar to the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1990's. QB Matt Schaub has improved every year since being acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons. He surpassed the 4,000 yard passing mark for the second straight season. RB Arian Foster a virtual unknown before the 2010 season had a breakout year. He led the NFL in rushing yardage with 1,616 yards and 16 td's. WR Andre Johnson had another great year with 86 receptions for 1,216 yards. The third consecutive year he has gone over 1,000 yards receiving. All three had exceptional seasons under the direction of new play-caller Rick Dennison. The 2011 season should be the same old song with these three guys on offense.
Defensive Scheme: Houston ran a 4-3 scheme in 2010 and it produced some bad results. Houston ranked last in the NFL in pass defense allowing 33 passing td's and also allowing opponents to score 27 points or more 11 times. Shortly after the 2010 season the Texans hired Wade Phillips to be the new defensive coordinator. He is known to run a 3-4 base defense and the Texans will probably no doubt follow suit. Wade has some talent in place with the front seven to work with. Pro-bowler DE Mario Williams will likely be moved to play rush linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme. Brian Cushing and Demeco Ryans will probably play the two MLB positions. They drafted DE J.J. Watt in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft to play as one of the down lineman. They only need to find a true nose tackle to have success in the front seven. The secondary is where the problems are and need to be addressed. When the new CBA deal is done and free agency starts, the Texans need to be the first team in line to sign CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Veteran leadership is needed badly in the secondary.
Thoughts: The Texans offense finished third in total yards, seventh in rushing and fourth in passing. Gary Kubiak has done a tremendous job in building this offense since becoming the head coach in 2006. The offense has four guys capable of making the pro bowl in 2011: QB Matt Schaub, WR Andre "the Giant" Johnson, RB Arian Foster, and TE Owen Daniels. If Houston can find a talented playmaking wide receiver to play opposite of Johnson this offense would be virtually unstoppable. Houston has been chasing the Colts and the AFC south division crown since Kubiak's arrival. The reason they have not conquered that mountain yet is because of the defense primarily the issues in the secondary.
Wade Phillips should bring a more aggressive attacking defense that should allow the secondary to make more plays on the ball. The theme of the 2011 NFL Draft for the Texans was defense. They selected DE J.J. Watt with the 11th pick overall. He should give the Texans a strong interior presence playing the five technique in Phillips 3-4 scheme. DE/OLB Brooks Reed was selected in the 2nd round to play the hybrid rush linebacker opposite DE Mario Williams. He has the foot quickness and strength to have an impact on ideal passing situations. In the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds Houston drafted prospects to challenge for starting jobs and to add depth in the secondary. Drafting in order CB Brandon Harris, CB Rashad Carmichael, and DB Shiloh Keo. The Texans must improve in this area in 2011 if they have any intentions of finally surpassing the Colts as top dog in the AFC south.
Recent History: GM Rick Smith has had some hits and misses trying to build the team through the draft. The best draft in team history was in 2006 the year before Smith became GM. Charlie Casserly, who has a great eye for talent, was the GM who pretty much set up the Texans to be successful in the future. He drafted DE Mario Williams with the number one overall pick. He was scrutinized by the media and other so called draft experts for passing on talents such as RB Reggie Bush, QB Vince Young, and QB Matt Leinart. Well, Mario Williams is the only one of the group to be named to a Pro Bowl so far. He also drafted MLB DeMeco Ryans, RT Eric Winston, and TE Owen Daniels all whom have become key starters.
Rick Smith and Kubiak's best draft class so far is the 2009 class. This class produced the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, LB Brian Cushing, who was voted to the Pro Bowl. DE Connor Barwin who had four sacks in a reserve role. Antoine Caldwell who saw exstensive action at right guard and should be the starter in 2011. CB Glover Quinn started the last 12 games of 2010 and played well against the run and pass. TE Anthony Hill and TE James Casey provided backup roles as blockers and help on special teams.
The most recent draft class of 2010 was hit by the injury bug so the jury is still out. CB Kareem Jackson selected in the first round struggled all year. Wade Phillips new defensive system should do wonders for him. Second round pick RB Ben Tate injured his ankle and had his season ended before it even began. Most football analyst had Tate penciled in as the starter, including myself, but the injury he suffered opened the door for Arian Foster. He responded with a breakout season. LB Daryl Sharpton replaced Zach Diles and started 6 games before injury an accumulating 34 tackles. Kick returner Trindon Holliday was put on injured reserve after pre season thumb surgery.
Five Year Record: 37-43
Coach: Gary Kubiak
GM: Rick Smith
Draft History: Click Here to see a complete draft history
Best Pick (Past Five Drafts): LB Brian Cushing: The Texans got their money worth from this talented 2010 first round selection. Cushing started at outside linebacker from day one and did not disappoint. He was voted at the end of the season as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and made his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He has outstanding athleticism, strength, and foot quickness. Cushing playing next to MLB Demeco Ryans gives the Texans two Pro Bowl caliber linebackers to go along with super stud DE Mario Williams. The future is bright for this defensive unit. Cushing gives the Texans a versatile athlete who can play well in a 4-3 or 3-4 system.
Worst Pick (Past Five Drafts): DT Amobi Okoye: This young man entered the league at the age of 19. He had a pretty good rookie season in 2007 recording 23 tackles and 5.5 sacks. The next three seasons his production fell off. Okoye is entering his 5th season and is still only 24years old. The Texans need Okoye to turn the corner and show why he was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. As of right now this looks like a bad fit for the Texans and the bust label may get attached to him. Playing in a new defensive scheme and having a new defensive coordinator may just be what the doctor ordered to get Okoye playing at a higher level consistently.