March 22, 2018

SOTT’s Texans Seven Round Mock Draft 3.0

When reading this mock draft keep two things in mind.

First, this mock draft was put together with the players I would like to see the Texans select, not necessarily who they will take.

Second, to determine which players that would be available for each pick, I used the prospect rankings from CBS Sports. Their draft guys Rob Rang and Dane Brugler do great work and trying to guess on availability for each pick would have been a nightmare.

For a scouts take I brought back Jayson Braddock. He’s a scout, NFL draft analyst, and a great follow on twitter. In particular his tweets busting the Clowney work ethic myth were very good and should put that non-sense to bed. Read that article compiled here and check below my selections for Jayson Braddock’s take. Jayson and I don’t agree in our evaluation of every player but I thought it was important to get more than just my own opinion when posting this mock draft.

I also used the opinion from a few other draft guys that I respect like Lance Zierlein from The Sideline View.


Jadeveon ClowneyFirst Round, 1st Overall – Jadeveon Clowney (DE/OLB South Carolina, 1st overall prospect)

Quarterback is not only the most important position in football, but the most important in any sport in my opinion. If there was a quarterback in this class that I loved, I wouldn’t even consider another position, but sadly that isn’t the case. Of the quarterbacks available, Teddy Bridgewater is the closest to being that guy, but questions about his size, arm strength, and ceiling have me worried enough to go in a different direction. If I had to take a quarterback number one, it would be Bridgewater.

With Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans are getting the best overall prospect in the draft and an impact player on the defensive side, where they had more holes going into this off-season. Coach O’Brien has said Clowney will move around and play different positions if the Texans select him. I expect most of his snaps will come as a stand up rush linebacker, but he’ll likely also spend a decent amount of time with his hand on the ground when the Texans go into their nickel package or some sort of 3rd down special pass rush package.

The brilliance of J.J. Watt has hidden some of the Texans flaws, but there’s no doubt that they need another pass rusher. No other player besides Watt has gotten more than 7 sacks over the last two seasons.

No matter how great Watt is, a one-man pass rush isn’t effective because it’s too easy to game plan against. Double team Watt and have a tight end or running back chip him, and no matter great he is, his production will slow down if the entire offense focuses on him. By adding maybe the best pass rushing prospect over the last decade, you not only add his individual talent, but with attention going to Clowney, more one on one situations will open for other teammates to exploit, including Watt who should face fewer double and triple teams.

For my thoughts on Manziel, click here.

Other Option – Trade back

Scouts take by Jayson Braddock:

Crennel’s recent defense in Kansas City isn’t the ideal fit for JJ Watt or Jadeveon Clowney. It doesn’t have to be. It’s April! After meeting and being around Watt on the practice field and IF they draft Clowney, he’ll dig into his bag of tricks and pull out mismatches. What does that mean? Glad you asked. It means that the team will have Clowney with his hand down at times, standing on occasion, move him into the center of the defense or “floating” / “roaming” to dictate to the offense how they’ll play defense. Wade Phillips shortcomings came at the hands of not being willing to adapt. Crennel’s strength is to put pressure up front on the offense in a multitude of way and demand his “centerfielder”, or the free safety in this defense to band-aid the back end. Having 10 men in the vicinity of the action allows Crennel to dictate what he wants to do with any of his players. Great coaches adapt to the talent that they’re provided with, instead of asking the talent to adapt to a scheme.

Too much is made of 3-4 or 4-3 in today’s NFL. It’s a pass happy league. At the end of the day, you need a player that can stress the quarterback quickly, stop the run, and allow players on the back to take risks due to limited coverage time. Jadeveon Clowney fits that role, perfectly.


ncf_g_tuitt1x_576Second Round, 39th Overall (TRADE BACK) – Stephon Tuitt (DT/DE Notre Dame, 47th overall prospect)

This spot is a great place for a trade down. The draft is so deep that it will reward teams with multiple picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds; currently the Texans have just two during those rounds. If Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, or Minnesota pass on quarterback in the first round, they’ll be calling the Texans to talk about a trade. Having a full day to look over the board and which prospects fell will not only help the Texans make a decision if they pick at 33, but will likely create some urgency amongst the other teams that need a quarterback.

I would trade back with Jacksonville who I believe will take either Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack with their first round pick and will want to jump ahead of the other quarterback needy teams in the second round. According to the draft trade chart, that would be worth their fourth round pick (105th overall); well worth it. My favorite choice for mid round quarterbacks should be available in the third round so I don’t mind waiting. If he’s not, the Texans won’t be a playoff team anyway this year so they can afford to wait on quarterback and build up the rest of the team.

There are work ethic questions about Tuitt that will drop him out of the first round and into the second round where I believe he’s a great value with his potential and upside. Tuitt is listed as a defensive tackle but I think he’d be a great fit as an every down five technique with his good combination of size (304 pounds) and length (6’6″). He’ll also provide nice versatility by being able to slide over to the defensive tackle position in special pass rush packages like Antonio Smith did in previous seasons.

For a description of the different defensive line techniques, click here.

Other Options – Morgan Moses (OT – Virginia), Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – Eastern Illinois), Derek Carr (QB – Fresno State), trading up for Louis Nix (DT – Notre Dame)

Scouts Take by Jayson Braddock:

The Texans are lacking for a true defensive end in a 3-4 scheme that can utilize the 2-gap that Romeo Crennel has ran predominantly in Kansas City. Tuitt is a first round talent, in my opinion. He definitely can hold the point of attack and uses his strength / arms well to bench press the offensive lineman off him to create separation to tackle the ball carrier. He’s agile for 300+ pounds, but what sticks out in his game is how he uses his 34 ¾” arms to dictate the trench battle.

Tuitt has a great swim move that catches offensive linemen off guard. He didn’t show great balance on getting the edge as a pass rusher at Notre Dame, but that wouldn’t be a concern with the Texans for the bulk of his reps. Tuitt is a great fit for the Texans as a talented 5 tech that can set the edge and force running back to the holes he dictates, allowing his linebackers to make plays. There’s just two big problems. 1) I don’t think Stephon makes it to pick #33. 2) His best position in my mind is as a 3 technique in a 4-3 scheme. His ability to penetrate a gap and disrupt in the backfield, combined with the ability to hold the point, makes him a difficult player to pass on for a 4-3 team. However, if he’s there at #33, Houston would definitely have to kick his name around in the bullpen.


Third Round, 65th Overall – Zach Mettenberger (QB LSU, 101st overall prospect)

Has prototypical size (6-5, 224 pounds) and arm strength; he definitely looks the part. Mettenberger made huge strides during his one year with former NFL coach Cam Cameron as his offensive coordinator and I think he has big upside if paired with another quarterback guru; Bill O’Brien is that guy. At Penn State O’Brien took a below average college quarterback named Matt McGloin and turned him into a quarterback who made six starts in the NFL last year. McGloin completed 54% of his passes with 8 TD/5 INT and a 118.3 QB rating during his junior season, the year before O’Brien arrived. The next season, McGloin completed 60.5% of his passes with 24 TD/5 INT and a 137.7 QB rating during his senior season with O’Brien as his coach. Mettenberger showed flashes of being a very good quarterback last season, I think O’Brien can get the best out of him.

All that said, there is a reason he’s ranked as a third round prospect. Mettenberger is a statue in the pocket, only had one good season of production, and is recovering from an ACL injury in December. The injury may work some in his favor by forcing the team who drafts him to be patient and let him stand on the sideline for maybe a half a season; I don’t think he’d be ready to start day one even if he was fully healthy. Ryan Fitzpatrick will most likely be the starter going into the season but I think Mettenberger could take his job by November if O’Brien is open to it being a true competition.

Other Option – Phillip Gaines (CB – Rice)

Scouts Take by Jayson Braddock:

This draft screams draft a quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd round. If I were to take a quarterback in the first round, it would be Teddy Bridgewater. The problem is, I believe you can find players of a higher caliber or at least equal to Bridgewater in the next 2 rounds at quarterback.

Mettenberger has been my #4 quarterback since early February. He has great size and frame. He doesn’t lack for arms and routinely showed the ability to throw from the far hash to the field sideline. Throws with anticipation outside of the numbers. The velocity and anticipation prevent defensive backs from jumping these routes. At LSU, Zach took a ton of reps from under center, ran a bunch of play action and is comfortable with his back to the defense.

Mettenberger places the ball on the outside shoulder on sideline routes from 20-45 with ease. He can scan partial to the full field when going thru progressions. I believe the offense held him back as he showed tremendous growth from 2012 to 2013 and should be a much better pro that collegiate quarterback. Has the ability to fit the ball in closing windows and showed touch and/or velocity throws. Has controlled touch in the red zone.

Negatives, Zach sometimes doesn’t show up big in key moments. He tends to make crucial mistakes that lead to an unfavorable outcome. During some games, I saw unexplainable inaccuracies on quick slants that came out of nowhere. His pocket awareness was lacking, as was his mobility and these traits led to unnecessary sacks.


Fourth Round, 101st Overall – Jack Mewhort (Tackle/Guard Ohio State, 105th overall prospect)

The Texans need improved play out of their left guard and right tackle going into next season. I’m not sure which position Mewhort will ultimately play but his versatility makes him an interesting option. Mewhort started games at both guard positions and left tackle at Ohio State. Starting Ben Jones at left guard scares me so I’d like to add a player to at least compete with him. Hopefully either David Quessenberry or Brennan Williams will step up during training camp and take the right tackle job from Derek Newton; if not, Mewhort could compete there as well.

With Mewhort the Texans’ would be getting a versatile lineman with good power and the ability to get up to the second level in the running game. Scouts love his sound technique and think he’ll quickly become a starter. He started 39 games at Ohio State, a major team in a major conference; very impressive. He lacks in a few measurables like arm length which likely limit him to right tackle or offensive guard, but that’s not a concern since the Texans already have their left tackle.

Other Option – Robert Herron (WR – Wyoming)

Scouts Take from Lance Zierlein of The Sideline View:

Solid in many areas but isn’t noticeably strong in any one area. Mewhort flashes power in his hands lacks explosive power as a run blocker. Shows good body control as a second level run blocker changes directions well enough to play tackle in the NFL. Might be best suited to play guard. Despite average athleticism, he has enough foot quickness and function strength to fit into all schemes at guard.


Fourth Round, 105th Overall (from Jaguars trade) – Christian Jones (ILB/OLB Florida State, 125th overall prospect)

A Swiss Army Knife at the linebacker position. Can play as the rush linebacker or an inside linebacker giving his defensive coordinator room to get creative; very scheme diverse. Jones is very athletic, great in coverage, and might be the best tackling linebacker in the draft. Where would I play him if the Texans draft him? I would start him off as an inside linebacker next to Brian Cushing, but I wouldn’t be shy about moving him around. If Brooks Reed moves to inside linebacker, then they could rotate Jones with Whitney Mercilus at the outside linebacker spot opposite of Clowney.

For more on his tackling, check out this article from John Harris of The Sideline View.

So why is he rated as only the 4th best inside linebacker by CBS? Scouts have concerns about his strength, reaction/recognition speed, along with the concern about where to play him. I’m willing to live with those weaknesses for a guy with his upside; especially as a fourth round pick.

Other Option – Lache Seastrunk (RB – Baylor), Shayne Skov (ILB – Stanford)

Scouts Take by Lance Zierlein from The Sideline View:

Some teams will call Christian Jones a “tweener” because he’s been moved all over the field and they will look at that as a knock.  We tend to look at it as a strength in this day and age of hybrid football and hybrid athletes.

As a LB, Jones is aggressive and gets downhill quickly to attack running plays near the line of scrimmage.  He doesn’t just sit back and wait.  Jones is one of the best tacklers in this draft with a tackle efficiency rating of 96.2% and he is well-schooled the art of shedding blockers and proper hand usage.

Jones might be able to add more weight to his frame, but he doesn’t have the body type to be a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE and his most likely destination will be 3-4 ILB or 4-3 WOLB.  While Jones doesn’t have as much thickness as some teams want out of a LB, he makes up for it with aggressiveness, a nose for the ball and an ability to explode to ball.

Jones’ biggest impact would be as an ILB in the 3-4 where he can run and chase and make plays.  His ability to rush the passer is an added bonus for teams who like to blitz with their ILBs and he can also bump outside and rush off the edge if a defensive coordinator wants to give an offense a different look.  Jones probably won’t go until the 2nd round, but he’s a rock-solid prospect with high football character and a great fit for teams looking for scheme-flexible talent.

Fourth Round, 135th Overall (Compensatory) – E.J. Gaines (CB Missouri, 136th overall prospect)

Johnathan Joseph has reached age 30 and Kareem Jackson is in the last year of his contract; the Texans have to add another cornerback or two in this year’s draft. Gaines’ versatility with experience outside and in the slot makes him an attractive option. The Texans will need him in the slot to start but there will be an opening on the outside by next season most likely. His experience playing both press and off coverage will also be useful and allow the Texans to mix up their looks. Physical corner who played well in the SEC; like his upside.

Other Option – Gabe Ikard (C – Oklahoma)

Scouts Take from Rob Rang of CBS:

Gaines sports a well-defined build for the position. The combination of his broad-shouldered, long-armed frame and very good overall athleticism makes him a tough draw for any pass-catcher. Has alternately lined up in press or off-man on most snaps, showing the fluid hips to turn and run with receivers, as well as very good lateral agility and balance and speed to burn. He anticipates routes well, under-cutting receivers to remain between them and the quarterback and has quick, active hands. Gaines is a classic grab and drag tackler, only occasionally dropping his shoulder to provide an impactful hit. Scouts would like to see him turn more of his many career passes broken up into interceptions.


Storm-Johnson-USA-Today-Sports-ImagesFifth Round, 141st Overall – Storm Johnson (RB Central Florida, 161st overall prospect)

With Ben Tate gone and Arian Foster coming off back surgery, the Texans would be wise to add a young running back to their roster. Hopefully Foster comes back and produces like he did in 2010 and 2011, but he’s most likely reaching the end of his prime. I hope I’m wrong, but running backs at age 28 with as many high-carry seasons as he’s had, usually start to decline.

Johnson is a powerful runner with good vision according to scouts. I also like the fact that he wasn’t run into the ground during his college career. Johnson had more than 200 carries just once and only totaled 335 carries for this career; plenty of tread left on the tire.

Other Option – Max Bullough (ILB – Michigan State)

Scouts Take by Jayson Braddock:

He’s a scheme diverse and a perfect blend of speed and power. He’s sneaky fast and surprisingly shifty. Storm has a great lateral step and dangerous in the open field. When I think of what the Patriots do with their running backs, I think of Storm Johnson. He also scored 2 touchdowns against Bill O’Brien’s Penn State team. He’s a better LeGarrette Blount.


Sixth Round, 177th Overall – Jalen Saunders (WR Oklahoma, 211th overall prospect)

Coach O’Brien has said publicly that the Texans need to add a slot receiver. The previous regime hoped that Keshawn Martin would develop into that player but after a promising performance during his first training camp, he’s been a no-show ever since.

Saunders led Oklahoma in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season while playing primarily in the slot. He’s super quick (4.37 40-yard-dash) and has great hands; the Texans should rush to the podium to draft him if he’s still available at this spot.

Scouts Take by Jayson Braddock:

He’s everything you would want in a slot receiver…if he would go the a buffet every meal for the next 3 months. He’s only 163 pounds and that scares me. He has great routes, good hands, good acceleration, very shifty and elusive after the catch. He’s willing to go over the middle. His size just keeps me up at night.


Sixth Round (from Oakland), 181st Overall – Brett Smith (QB Wyoming, 258th overall prospect)

Coach O’Brien has said that they would probably take two quarterbacks during this draft and I agree with that strategy. None of their current quarterbacks are their future at the position and they likely won’t take a quarterback in the first round, so why not throw more than one dart at the board later in the draft?

Smith is obviously a long shot being a sixth round rated quarterback, but he has many plus traits that make him appealing. Smith is very athletic and pretty accurate, on the down side he has an awkward throwing motion and has good but not great arm strength in my opinion. Some have compared him to Philip Rivers but with more athletic ability; that’s worth the risk in the sixth round.

Scout Take by Jayson Braddock:

Brett Smith has the elusiveness of a Johnny Manziel, albeit not to the same extent, obviously. He showed the arm strength slightly below a Derek Carr. The ability to go through progressions like a Teddy Bridgewater. So, why isn’t he getting more publicity?

Brett Smith has an awkward delivery that I’m not so thrilled with and his frame needs to add bulk. Sounds familiar? It should, it’s the exact same discussion we had about Colin Kaepernick a few years back. He also didn’t take a lot of reps from under center, same as one young Kaepernick.

Brett Smith takes a lot of chances with the ball and isn’t afraid to take risk by trying to fit the ball into an evaporating window. He showed tremendous growth from a sophomore to a junior and there is no reason to expect his learning to be capped after leaving Wyoming to head into an NFL training facility and learn from NFL coaching.

Smith has better command on his touch and velocity than any other quarterback prospect in this class. He’s an escape artist out of the pocket with 4.4 speed that allows him to beat defenders with his legs or with the accuracy of his arms that he displayed at Wyoming.

All of these quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft have huge weaknesses. I can’t come to terms with drafting one high that you’ll have to project development into, when there are prospects that should become better NFL signal callers and you don’t have to spend a day 1 or possibly day 2 pick on.

At worst Brett Smith will have a Jake Plummer type of career, in my opinion. At best, he could turn out to be in a similar class to Robert Griffin III.


NCAA Football: Arizona at OregonSixth Round, 211th Overall (Compensatory) – Colt Lyerla (TE Oregon, 293rd overall prospect)

Many have compared his on the field skills to Rob Gronkowski; that’s high praise. So why is he rated as a late round prospect? His rap sheet is a mile long, actually probably two miles long. He’s had issues with drugs, traffic tickets, not showing up when he’s supposed to and he abruptly quit the Oregon team last October.

The Texans will have to do their homework on him and see if he’s either already committed to changing his life or is willing to make changes going forward. I would take the chance. How many times do you get a chance at a player with Pro-Bowl talent this late in the draft? If he fails miserably, so what, he was just a sixth round pick. It would cost them nothing to be rid of him. There will be a NFL team willing to risk a 7th round pick on him, so the Texans should use one of their three 6th round picks to secure the talented tight end.

Scouts Take by Jayson Braddock:

Based on talent alone, he’s my #3 ranked tight end, a fringe first rounder. He has good hands, routes, and even blocking ability. He’s an athletic talent at the tight end position. He has all the talent that you could want at the position. Due to his off-field issues and how deep this overall class is, I’d expect someone to take a shot on him in the 5th round.


Seventh Round, 216th Overall – Victor Hampton (CB South Carolina, 234th overall prospect)

Physical corner who isn’t scared to help in the run game. Might need to move to safety, don’t trust him at this point in one on one press man coverage. Good athlete with a knack for pass breakups due to the way he keeps an eye on the quarterback while in coverage; gets him in trouble on double moves. Off the field issues have dropped him down a round or two.

Scouts Take by Jayson Braddock:

He’s an undersized outside corner in my opinion. He’s not shifty enough to cover NFL slot receivers. He does show a unique knack to get pass breakups. Hampton has great break and explosion back to ball and long arms to assist in coverage.


Lonnie Ballentine

Lonnie Ballentine

Seventh Round, 256th Overall (Compensatory) – Lonnie Ballentine (FS Memphis, 268th overall prospect)

The Texans need depth in the secondary, safeties usually make good special teams players, and they brought Ballentine to NRG Stadium for a visit so they’re clearly interested in him. Lonnie Ballentine should become Mr. Irrelevant.

Scouts Take from Nolan Nawrocki of

Exceptional size, length and closing speed. Can get over the top and leverage the field. Plays with emotion. Superb pro day workout, posting some sub-4.4-second 40 times and a 38-inch vertical jump. Flashes straight-line striking ability when he has a clean angle.

Pedals tall and does not play to timed speed. Not a strong, face-up, wrap tackler. Does not trigger quickly vs. the run and is late to see plays developing. Shaky hands — not a natural catcher and will mistime jumps. Marginal career production on the ball.
5 Responses to “SOTT’s Texans Seven Round Mock Draft 3.0”
  1. daytripper says:

    I like the Brett Smith pick.

  2. daytripper says:

    I like the Brett Smith pick.

  3. Manuel Posada says:

    think they’ll bpull the trigger for a qb sooner and when tuitt isnt there keith urban will pair with jj perfectly to make soem hockey loving bash brothers 😀

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] regular Houston Sports Talk podcast co-host Brian McDonald has his final 7 round mock draft.  Check out who Brian has the Texans picking 1st & what quarterback or quarterbacks Brian has […]

%d bloggers like this: