Ben Tate

Training Camp Preview: Texans

Biggest Question Mark: Duane Brown
The Texans reached for Brown in the 1st round of the 2008 draft, and it’s a selection they may already be regretting. As their starting left tackle Brown struggled last season, allowing seven sacks and 11 hits. He must improve this season if Matt Schaub is going to lead the Texas to their first playoff berth.

HOUSTON - JULY 31:  Running back Arian Foster #37 of the Houston Texans rushes with the ball during practice on July 31, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Undrafted in 2009, Foster could be the opening day starter at running back

Position Battle to Watch: Running Back
Steve Slaton was one of 2009′s biggest disappointments and the Texans seem resigned to the fact that he’s nothing more than a change-of-pace back. While Slaton will still get his carries, the battle figures to be between Arian Foster and rookie Ben Tate – both bigger running backs that can carry the full load.

Impact Rookie: Kareem Jackson
Jackson will be inserted into the starting lineup immediately, taking the place of Dunta Robinson. Those are big shoes to fill, especially for someone than many feel was chosen too early. The Texans passed on Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson and Patrick Robinson and Jackson’s career will always be measured by how he compares to those three.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Texans 1 Comment

Early NFL Rookie of the Year Predictions

It may only be May, but it’s never too early to look ahead. By glancing through some projected depth charts we’ve come up with an early rookie of the year prediction. We’ll track each player’s progress and update our rankings on a weekly basis throughout the season.

OFFENSE
1. Ryan Mathews, Chargers

Offensive Rookie of the Year typically goes to a running back, and often to a player on a good team. Mathews may not be the most talented of this year’s rookies, but he is in the best position to succeed. He’s the feature back in San Diego and should cruise to 1,200 yards and 10+ touchdowns.

2. Ben Tate, Texans
Tate will have to beat out Steve Slaton for the starting job, but he certainly will enter training camp with an excellent shot to be the Texans’ feature back. Unlike Slaton, Tate has the size to carry the load and put up impressive numbers throughout the year.

3. Golden Tate, Seahawks
Tate will likely be used as an all-purpose receiver in Seattle much like Percy Harvin was used in Minnesota last year. He isn’t their No. 1 target, but they’ll find ways to get him the ball.

4. C.J. Spiller, Bills
While Spiller was the top-rated running back on most draft boards, he didn’t land in a great situation in terms of finding immediate playing time. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson still deserve to get their fair share of the carries (assuming they’re still around) which will limit Spillers ability to put up ROY-type numbers.

5. Jimmy Clausen, Panthers
If Clausen beats out Matt Moore he’ll be in an excellent position to succeed as a rookie. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams will carry the load on offense, limiting the amount of work Clausen needs to do.

DEFENSE
1. Eric Berry, Chiefs
The Chiefs defense won’t be very good, meaning plenty of chances for Berry to show off his skills. He’ll clearly stand out as the best player in their secondary from day one, and should be the DROY favorite.

2. Derrick Morgan, Titans
Morgan will start from day one on an already respectable defense in Tennessee. He’s surrounded with enough talent that should allow him to rack up 7+ sacks this year.

3. Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas will start immediately for the Seahawks and should be an instant-impact player. He’s a ball hawk, which means he should have no problem putting up the gaudy interception numbers that will catch the eye of ROY voters.

4. Brandon Graham, Eagles
Graham likely won’t start in Philadelphia, but he’ll be used as a situational pass rusher. He’s one dimensional, but he’ll put up the numbers necessary to get noticed as a rookie.

5. Sean Weatherspoon, Falcons
Weatherspoon is one of the few defensive rookies who has been handed a starting job. He likely won’t put up the numbers to in the award, but he’ll be in the discussion simply based on having the most opportunities to show off his talents.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Chargers, Chiefs, Eagles, Falcons, Panthers, Seahawks, Texans, Titans 2 Comments

2010 Draft Grades: Texans

The Texans did a great job filling needs in this draft, but I think they reached a little too often to do so. They’re feeling the pressure to win now, which can sometimes lead to poor draft-day decisions.

I like Kareem Jackson, but he wasn’t worth a top-20 pick. They obviously looked at their starting cornerbacks (Brice McCain and Quin Glover) and panicked. With Ryan Mathews off the board, probably their only non-cornerback option in the 1st-round, they were dead-set on taking a corner. Unfortunately there just wasn’t anyone other than Haden worth a top-20 pick.

Their 2nd-round selection of Ben Tate also reeks of them locking in on one positions and insisting on filling it with that pick. They simply couldn’t enter 2010 with Steve Slaton as their starting running back. After missing out on Mathews in the 1st round, they had to address the need in the 2nd. Tate can be a nice compliment to Slaton but he wasn’t worth the 58th overall pick in the draft. They should have rolled the dice that Tate or a comparable running back would be available in the 3rd round.

Once again in the 3rd round they reached to fill a need. Their defensive tackles have all been career underacheivers, especially starters Amobi Okoye and Shaun Cody. I don’t disagree with addressing the need, but Earl Mitchell is too raw to have an instant impact. He has upside, but it will take some time to develop him into a starter. This just wasn’t a good fit for Mitchell. He’s the type of player that would have benefited from playing behind a proven veteran for a year or two.

In the 4th round they reached again, this time to add depth at linebacker. Darryl Sharpton is a versatile linebacker who can backup DeMeco Ryans on the inside or compete for playing time at the weak-side position. By the 4th round reaches don’t look as bad, but it doesn’t change the fact that there were better players on the board.

I love the selection if Garrett Graham in the 5th round. He is a very similar player to fellow Badger Owen Daniels. No one will be expecting Graham to see much playing time as a rookie, but he’ll provide insurance behind Daniels who missed nearly the entire 2009 season with an ACL injury.

Sherrick McManis has limited upside, but they needed to add more depth at cornerback. He’ll play special teams and be a 4th or 5th option at cornerback if the makes the roster.

I was surprised that the Texans waited until the 6th round to address their interior offensive line. Shelley Smith doesn’t have much upside, but he could see playing time as a rookie if for no other reason than the Texans don’t have many other options.

Trindon Holliday will be an interesting player to watch in 2010. Given his size (5’5″, 159 pounds), its hard to imagine him doing anything other than returning kicks and punts. But can he even win that job over Andre’ Davis and Jacoby Jones? I hope he does just for the entertainment factor of seeing the NFL’s version of Earl Boykins returning kicks.

I was absolutely shocked that Dorin Dickerson fell to the 7th round. The issue is obvious that he doesn’t have a true position. He’s too small to play tight end or wide receiver. He’s built like a running back, but has no experience there. But despite all that, he’s too athletic not to give a shot to play somewhere. Even if he plays a very limited role, plays can be designed for him to create mismatches. I think the Texans got themselves a steal, so long as they’re willing to work him into the game plan.

This was a make-or-break draft for the Texans. Either Jackson and Tate make an immediate impact and push the Texans over the top and into the playoffs, or Gary Kubiak will be pushed out the door. The Texans have been just on the outside of legitimately competing for a few years now and they’re starting to grow impatient with Kubiak’s inability to get them into the playoffs. You have to give them credit for takings risks, but if they don’t work out, the next regime will look at this draft as the reason why they’ve been set back 2-3 years.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Texans Comments Off

Clinton Portis Returning to Washington?

redskinsIn an interview on ESPN’s First Take this morning Clinton Portis opened up about his “rough” 2009 season, and seemed to indicate that he expects to return to Washington in 2010. (see transcript here)

Given his injury-plagued and generally unproductive season, it would seem unlikely that Portis’ prophecy comes true. Oh, and then there’s the $6.34M he’s owed in 2010.

In reality, Mike Shanahan just isn’t going to keep the washed up running back who’s work ethic he has criticized and who he once traded away while in Denver. The more likely scenario will be for Shanahan to add a running back somewhere between the 2nd and 4th rounds of the draft.

ACC Championship  - Clemson v Georgia TechIn our latest mock draft we have the ‘Skins selecting Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer in the 2nd round.

Dwyer’s the type of downhill runner that Shanahan covets. His style is similar to former Broncos running backs Terrell Davis, Reuben Droughns, Selvin Young and even comparable to Portis. Other options in the 2nd or 3rd round may be Tennessee’s Montario Hardesty, Auburn’s Ben Tate, Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon or Stanford’s Toby Gerhart.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Broncos 1 Comment