Tag Archives: Wisconsin

NFL Draft Review: Houston Texans

Ed: Welcome back, readers. The NFL draft has come and gone, so we’re going to be doing something a little different on GASB for the next month or so.

Normally when you read NFL draft coverage, you’re reading straight-laced un-biased appraisals of the teams and their players. Not here. Each of our draft reviews will be coming from a fan of a given team, which will give you a chance to get an idea of what that fanbase thinks about the direction the team is headed in and how the new players will fit with that vision.

It won’t be the perspective of a journalist, it will be the perspective of you. The perspective of the fan.

First up, the Houston Texans.

1 (11): JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

Immediately after this pick talk radio shows around town were full of people calling, furious over the choice go to with Watt over Auburn’s Nick Fairley.

Not only are Fairley’s talents (limited body of work, stockpiling stats against garbage opponents) debatable, but he simply does not fit the most pressing needs of the Houston Texans, who desperately need pass-rushing capabilities.

In Wade Phillips’ 3-4, which will feature multiple looks including 4-3 and hybrids, versatility is vital. Unfortunately, those people calling do not understand that in this system players who can play both DE and DT are just as important as those who play OLB/DE.

Watt will play DE in the 3-4, but can also slide inside to play DT in 4-3 formations and will provide ample pressure on the quarterback as well as support against the run game, and has the strength to tie up blockers for the men behind him.

Additionally, Watt has zero character issues, never gives up on a play and his tangibles are through the roof (please do me a favor and compare them to Fairley’s). Fans of college football will recognize that though the Big 10 (12) is certainly a shell of its former self, the league is still well known for its massive lineman on both sides of the ball. Watt faced these types of players weekly as a Badger and excelled against them.

Hopefully this means that Amobi Okoye’s days are done and fans of this franchise can move on from that debacle.

2 (42): Brooks Reed, OLB/DE, Arizona

As mentioned above, Houston drafted a DE/DT in the first round and in the second round they drafted an OLB/DE. As a result of this combination, the Texans gained two players who can play four positions.

Reed is all over the field and many analysts had him listed as a first-round talent. Reed should complete the Texans’ LB corps in the 3-4 set. He will be largely responsible for pass rush in either set, however. This is likely the best “value” pick of Houston’s entire draft.

Reed is tenacious, a good tackler, and has great game speed. The announcement late last week that Mario Williams will line up as an OLB in the 3-4 makes this pick even smarter.

With Reed and Williams on the outside, Connor Barwin is freed up to provide depth at the OLB position.

3 (60): Brandon Harris, DB, Miami

It could be argued that the Houston Texans’ secondary of 2010-2011 was one of the worst in the history of the NFL.

The youthful group gave up play after big play that cost the Texans big and that need was a priority in this season’s draft. The Texans were in place to draft Prince Amukamara, but passed on him.

That was likely also a good choice.

Harris provides a similar skill set, but in the third round. He runs a 4.4 and has the capability to guard WRs in a man-to-man scheme. Fans of the college game might recall that he occasionally looked out of place and lost at The U. This cannot be blamed solely on Harris.

After all, he played during the Randy Shannon era.

4 (127): Rashard Carmichael, DB, Virginia Tech

As a Texans fan I cannot tell you how happy I was when this selection is made.

It’s not that I think Carmichael is the second coming of Charles Woodson, but it is apparent to me that Wade Phillips is in charge of this draft. That is precisely was this team needs.

The duo of Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith has been below average as talent evaluators. What’s the result of below average talent evaluation? A 6-10 record. The Texans have focused entirely on the defensive side of the ball through the first four rounds, which is exactly what they should be doing.

Carmichael was the best player in a Virginia Tech secondary that was outstanding last season. He’s physical with WRs at the line of scrimmage and is not afraid to tackle. He will likely make a living playing in nickel and dime packages.

5 (144): Shiloh Keo, DB, Idaho

For those asking “damn, does Houston need that many defensive backs?” the answer is a resounding, “YES!”

The Texans apparently love Keo’s playing style. He’s not going to cover anyone man-to-man and it is doubtful he will get significant starting time at any point in his career. But he will be a special teams player and a backup safety.

Wade Phillips is reportedly enamored with his willingness to play the run and take on blockers and believes he has a real chance to be a good NFL player. I’m willing to accept Phillips has forgotten more about football than Mel Kiper, Jr. and I have ever known.


5 (152): T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

I have no problem with this pick.

So long as Matt Schaub stays healthy, his job is safe, but that’s not what this pick was about. Though he’s certainly a developmental player, Yates can play and is 6’4”, 225 lbs. The fact that he was able to accomplish anything behind that North Carolina offensive line speaks to his potential.

He has outstanding accuracy, as evidenced by his performance in the Texas vs. the Nation college post-season game (which Texas won by the way). I think the Texans likely chose him in hopes that he develops and they can trade him to a QB-hungry team in a couple of seasons. If they can turn this late fifth round pick into a second round pick, I will be thrilled.

This reminds me of a couple of horror stories I need to share with this blog’s readers. These incidents occurred during the Texans’ Charley Casserly era, a truly miserable era in the franchise’s history.

First of all, in 2003, the Houston Texans drafted Dave Ragone out of Louisville in the third round. That doesn’t sound so terrible if that’s all the information you’re provided. But consider the Texans drafted David Carr No. 1 overall that year. Forget about what a disaster Carr was and just consider this: Casserly used a third overall pick on a player who, if the rest if the draft (specifically the No. 1 overall pick) worked out, would NEVER set foot on the field for the Houston Texans.

I have no issue with a team taking chances like this in the fifth round, but the third?! No wonder Carr was running for his life for so long.

But Ol’ Charley wasn’t done. NO! He had more tricks where that came from! In that same 2003 draft, Casserly picked Drew Henson in the sixth round. This had the potential to be a brilliant pick (largely because it was in the 6th round). Henson had skills that were coveted by many teams and the size (6’4” 240) to back it up, but he was playing baseball at the time.

In 2004, the Dallas Cowboys traded the Texans a third round pick for the rights to Drew Henson, who retired from baseball and joined them that season. So this sounds great, right!? The Texans essentially traded a sixth-round pick for a third-round pick! Well, Charley couldn’t leave well enough alone and he packaged a second-round pick and that third-round pick (that represented Drew Henson, essentially) and sent them to the Oakland Raiders for Phillip Buchanon in 2005.

Yes. Phillip Buchanon.

It was widely reported at that time that no other team had even considered offering Oakland a fourth-rounder for Buchanon’s services. So, apparently Charley Casserly outbid himself and the result was getting the short end of the stick on a trade with Al Davis and the Raiders. That’s how bad he was.

But I haven’t even mentioned the best part! After it was painfully obvious that the Buchanon trade was a disaster, Casserly appeared on a local radio show and, when questioned about the trade he said something to the effect of, “well, we got that third-round pick from the Drew Henson deal, so we shouldn’t have had that in the first place. We look at it as if we gave up only a second-round pick.”

I was livid.

Was Charley saying “if I find $100 on the sidewalk and spend it on a $10 novelty toothbrush it’s ok because, I simply found that money anyway!” What a jackass. I hope Smithiak (or their successors should they go 6-10 again) handles T.J. Yates a little better.

7 (214): Derek Newton, OL, Arkansas State

Obviously, in the seventh round basically every pick is a crapshoot. Newton is 6’5” and could offer depth at right tackle or the interior line. He excels in the run game, which means he might find a home in Houston assisting Arian Foster.

7 (254): Cheta Ozougwu, OLB, Rice

If “Mr. Irrelevant” never sets foot on a NFL field I don’t care.

He is the type of player the Texans should have chosen with the last pick in the draft. He does not project to ever be much of a run-stopper, but he is extremely athletic and is a project with pass-rushing capabilities. As usual, the Texans took no chances regarding character issues. The man went to Rice and by all accounts is as decent of a person as there is.

– No Legs 2011

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Five burning college football questions

There’s a lot going on in the world of college football this weekend, so I’m not going to waste any time in getting to the five most pressing issues of the 2009 season.

1. Will Florida leave Death Valley undefeated on Saturday night?

That is the one overarching question that will captivate the nation on Saturday, but there’s a lot of sub-questions there too.

Will Heisman winner and unquestioned Gators leader Tim Tebow play? If he can, should he? How different does the offense look under sophomore John Brantley? Does any of this matter against LSU’s streak of 21 straight home night victories?

There is no question that Tim Tebow means the world to the Florida Gators. Everyone knows what a unique skillset and what an unparalleled level of competition he brings to a game, but is one game worth the potential of further injury?

Remember, the Gators were a one-loss team in 2006 before winning the BCS title and in 2008 before doing the same. Surely, losing on the road to the No. 4-ranked team in the country — with or without Tim Tebow — would not bump them out of the AP top-10. With USC and Virginia Tech already having losses and Oklahoma having two, the possible players in the BCS title game aren’t many. This is not a do-or-die game for the Gators.

INSURANCE PLAN

INSURANCE PLAN

And airing on the side of optimism, Florida is still a damn good football team without Tim Tebow. The defense is identical to the top-5 unit from last year and the run game — a three-headed attack featuring Jeffry Demps, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody — is No. 1 in the nation with 307.5 yards per game. John Brantley was one of the most hotly recruited quarterbacks in the country two years ago and his pocket presence would not only ensure the Tigers respect the pass, but ensure they’re unable to load the box.

Tebow or no Tebow, it’s going to be an electric matchup between two of the nation’s finest but Florida has too much offensive firepower to be slowed and too staunch a defense to allow LSU to put points on the board.

Florida stays undefeated.

2. How will Sam Bradford’s arm look against Baylor?

The Sooner senior and potential No. 1 pick in next April’s NFL draft will suit up for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury in Oklahoma’s season-opening loss to BYU.

Freshman Landry Jones has looked solid in going 2-1 in Bradford’s absence, but the game against perennial Sooners stomping mat Baylor isn’t so much about what will surely be a win as it is a gauge of how Bradford will be able to hold up the rest of the season.

'STACHE AND DELIVER

'STACHE AND DELIVER

Oklahoma’s schedule gets markedly more difficult after Baylor; Texas, Kansas and Nebraska will all take their shots at adding to the Sooners’ loss column within the next 30 days and Bradford will need to be at his best to pull through those games with victories.

3. Was all the Jevan Snead hype for naught?

After riding a wave of momentum into the 2009 season and parlaying it into a top-5 rank, the Rebels stumbled at South Carolina and looked less than impressive in beating SEC basement-dwellers Vanderbilt. Snead is 54-for-105 — just 51.4% — with nine touchdowns and five interceptions.

Those are not the numbers of a quarterback thought to be in the midst of a Heisman race and those are not the numbers of a quarterback thought to be the second best in the SEC behind Tim Tebow.

HIGH TIDE, LOW TIDE

HIGH TIDE, LOW TIDE

The news isn’t getting any better with No. 3 Alabama and its high-octane offense coming to town. Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy is looking every bit the player Snead was supposed to be in completing 65% of his passes for over a thousand yards and nine touchdowns.

Snead will have to play the best game of his career thus far to beat Alabama and re-insert Ole Miss into the race for the SEC West.

4. Why is nobody talking about Wisconsin?

I’ll be the first to admit it; I’ve slept on the Badgers.

Not just this season, but in plenty of seasons past. This prototypical Big 10 team is getting it done with a punishing run game and an offensive line capable of weathering the storm of any defense thrown at it. Their resume may not ‘wow’ the pollsters with wins over the likes of Wofford and Northern Illinois, but victories over Fresno State, Minnesota and Michigan State speak of a team that deserves to be taken seriously.

THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

Things will ratchet up in difficulty with a trip to Ohio State on Saturday but the Badgers will be a formidable opponent with ‘upset’ on the brain. John Clay and Zach Brown have combined for near 800 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground and quarterback Scott Tolzien has developed a rapport with receivers Nick Toon, Garrett Graham and Isaac Anderson.

This will be closer than people think.

5. Can Iowa put itself firmly in the Big 10 driver’s seat?

The three-game stretch that starts with Michigan on Saturday will be crucial for the Hawkeyes. The young-but-dangerous Wolverines come to town on Saturday and that contest is followed by trips to Wisconsin and Michigan State.

THE NEW BLACK AND GOLD

THE NEW BLACK AND GOLD

Much like their Big 10 brethren in Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes like to establish themselves on the ground. It’s not a pretty style of football, it’s not dynamic, but it’s successful. Adam Robinson is a stocky, bruising runner and Brandon Wegher was cut from an identical mold. The tandem works to wear defenses down and when the run game sputters, quarterback Ricky Stanzi can air it out.

A win over Michigan will keep Iowa tied with the Wisconsin/Ohio State winner atop the Big 10 standings.