The top ten picks are done, and it’s time to move onto the Houston Texans, who pick eleventh in this draft.
Houston is looking for those final pieces than can turn them from an also ran into a playoff team for the first time in franchise history. They came off what was a promising 2009 season, and struggled in 2010 namely because their defense tanked.
The main reason for that tank was because of atrocious secondary play. They thought they wouldn’t lose much by not re-signing Dunta Robinson, and they were wrong. And to make up for that mistake, I think they will select Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara with their top selection.
Last year’s top pick Kareem Jackson struggled, and the team really needs help in the secondary. They still are high on Jackson, but getting another corner into the mix would definitely help things, and allow them to move Glover Quin to free safety, a position he may be better suited for and another weakness on the roster.
LSU corner Patrick Peterson is going to be long gone by the time the eleventh pick rolls around, but if he does slip out of the top five, the Texans will probably entertain the idea of going up and getting him in the draft via trade. But a more likely scenario is the team targetting Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara with this pick. Amukamara is an intriguing talent on the outside, and gives the team a solid press corner that they had with Robinson.
To fix their ailing defense the team also hired Wade Phillips to install a 3-4 defense. While not your traditional fit up front and contrary to popular belief, Mario Williams should be a pretty solid defensive end in the 3-4. Throw in Antonio Smith, and you are solid at defensive end. The Texans will look at players like Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt or Cal’s Cameron Jordan, but it’s not a need. Instead, their need up front is at nose tackle with Amobi Okoye their top option. But there isn’t a nose tackle in this draft class that merits this high a selection.
So instead, the Texans will focus on the linebacking corps. If the season started today, their starters on the outside would be Jesse Nading and Connor Barwin. Not a terrible pair, but clearly they need more help. It’s why the Texans would love to walk away with Von Miller or Robert Quinn in this draft, but it’s doubtful either player will fall this far in the draft. But if either one slips out of the Top 5, again it’s a possibility they might trade up for him. But their need at linebacker isn’t quite as glaring as their need in the secondary.
The Texans could use some help on the offensive side of the ball but they have no pressing needs. If Alabama’s Julio Jones is available at No. 11, he would be a tempting pick because it would give them a No. 2 receiver that is potentially as physical as Andre Johnson. But it’s unlikely the Texans will neglect their obvious needs on the defensive side of the ball to take a wideout.
So in the end, unless one of those pass rushers fall to this point in the draft, the team will likely snag Amukamara. It’s improbable, but certainly possible that the Texans could be stuck holding the bag at No. 11 with Amukamara, Jones, Miller, and Quinn on the board, and the only one of the “Big 11″ left would be Cam Newton. They aren’t going to take a quarterback despite some doubts still lingering about Matt Schaub. But if Newton is the only one left, then you’ll likely see the Texans finding a willing trade partner for some team like Miami or Seattle trying to leap frog the VIkings at No. 12 to snag Newton. And if they were to trade down, their needs wouldn’t change and they’d switch focus to some of the corners and outside linebackers to be had in the latter half of the first round. If they cannot find a trade partner, then the one player not in the Big 11 that they can probably snag this high in the draft and get almost comparable value is Missouri pass rusher Aldon Smith and move him to outside linebacker.