Kareem Jackson

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

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

There could be a run on cornerbacks in the 1st round

Just about every year there is a run on players from a certain position. This year we know a good number of offensive tackles and defensive linemen will go in the 1st round. Joining them, could be a number of cornerbacks.

Back in my first post-regular season mock draft in January I had only one cornerback in the 1st round – Joe Haden. Since then, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson, Patrick Robinson and Kareem Jackson have all entered the conversation. While I don’t believe all five deserve to be 1st-round selections, its not out of the question that they could all sneak into the top 32 picks.

Runs on a specific position happen when teams need to fill a position and are worried that they’ll be left with a significantly worse player by the time they’re on the clock again. For example, if the Eagles want a cornerback in the 1st round they may reach for Kareem Jackson rather than settle for Perrish Cox in the second round.

Just a few weeks ago it seemed reasonable to assume that only two cornerbacks would come off the board in the 1st round. So lets run through a scenario in which all five could come off the board.

10. Jaguars – Joe Haden
The Jaguars are definitely in the mix to land Haden. They need someone opposite Rashean Mathis, who turns 30 in August.

17. 49ers – Devin McCourty
There are reportedly a number of teams in the top 20 that have an interest in McCoury, and the 49ers are likely one of them. Nate Clements has been a huge disappointment, and was benched at one point in 2009. McCourty could allow them to part ways with him and enormous contract.

24. Eagles – Kyle Wilson
The Eagles traded arguably their best cornerback, Sheldon Brown, to the Browns in an effort to get younger on defense. However, it depleted their depth at cornerback in the process and left them with with Ellis Hobbs as their best option to start opposite Asante Samuel.

25. Ravens – Kareem Jackson
Both Lardarius Webb and Dominique Foxworth are coming off ACL injuries and may not be ready for the start of the season. Having two key injuries in their secondary has the Ravens worried, and they’ve done their homework on the majority of the top cornerbacks in this year’s class.

31. Vikings – Patrick Robinson
Robinson is the long shot of the group, but if the top four cornerbacks are off the board by No. 31 the Vikings may take chance on him. Depth at the position was a weakness of the Vikings in 2009 and to make matters worse Cedric Griffin’s season ended with a serious knee injury which could cause him to miss the start of the 2010 season. They’re desperate for help in the secondary and may not haveĀ  a choice but to add someone in the 1st round.

This is just one of multiple scenarios in which five corners could come off the board. Other teams such as the Titans, Steelers and Packers are also interested in cornerbacks early in the draft.

If a scenario such as this plays out, the real winners will be the teams drafting early in the 2nd round. A number of 1st-round talents will fall if teams start to reach for guys at a specific position. It could cause multiple big names to still be on the board on Friday.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Eagles, Jaguars, Packers, Ravens, Vikings Comments Off