Draft Day Priorities

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April 15, 2002
Draft Day Priorities

Now that we know David Carr will be the Texans’ first selection in Saturday’s draft, it’s time to turn our attention to the team’s remaining 12 picks.

With that in mind, The War Room breaks down the Texans’ entire 75-man roster, pinpointing both its strengths and weaknesses in an attempt to try and gain some insight into who the Texans might be targeting in this weekend’s draft.

Current Roster (projected starter in bold): Kent Graham, Mike Quinn, Ben Sankey
Draft Priority: 8

The Texans, of course, will draft David Carr first overall, addressing one of their bigger needs. But Carr might not be the only quarterback selected this weekend.

The current starter, Kent Graham, is signed through 2002 only and his back-ups (Quinn and Sankey) have combined to make just two NFL starts, meaning Houston might look for someone to bring in with the hope he might be able to stick around next year and be, at the very least, a third-string option in 2003.

Possible Target Round: 6-7
Possible contenders: ; Seth Burford (Cal-Poly, 6’2", 234; rounds 6-7); J.T. O’Sullivan (Cal-Davis, 6’2", 225; rounds 5-6)

Running Back
Current Roster: James Allen, Michael Basnight, Michael Jenkins, Frank Moreau, Charlie Rodgers
Draft Priority: 7

James Allen will be the starter in 2002, but he only signed a one-year deal. Basnight, Moreau and Rodgers all have some NFL carries under their belt, but none are likely to push Allen this year, nor do any figure prominently into the Texans’ future plans, meaning the team is likely going to look for a back they can groom for 2003 and beyond.

Fortunately, several good ones should be available on the draft’s first day.

Possible Target Round: 2-3
Possible contenders: Ledell Betts (Iowa, 5’10", 212; rounds 3-4), DeShaun Foster (UCLA, 6’0", 212; round 2), Lamar Gordon (North Dakota State, 6’0", 212; rounds 2-3), Clinton Portis (Miami, 5’10", 204; rounds 1-2), Luke Staley (BYU, 6’1", 229; rounds 2-3)

Current Roster: Clif Groce, Matt Snider
Draft Priority: 3

Don’t expect fullback to be a priority — traditionally, fullbacks in Chris Palmer’s offense do little more than block, and currently, Clif Groce can fill that role without any problems. But if a talent like Najeh Davenport falls into the Texans’ laps, they may pull the trigger in rounds 3-5. Davenport could play fullback this year and then step in for Allen in 2003 at running back — he has that much potential.

Otherwise, Palmer is likely content to start the season with Groce, who’s big and tough and has plenty of NFL experience.

Possible Target Round: 3-5
Possible contenders: Jarrod Baxter (New Mexico, 6’0", 237; rounds 4-5); Najeh Davenport (Miami, 6’2", 245; rounds 2-3)

Wide Receiver
Current Roster: Avion Black, Corey Bradford, Eric Chew, Larry Davis, Sherrod Gideon, Trevor Insley, Duante Jones, Jermaine Lewis, Tony Simmons
Draft Priority: 8

Wide receiver figures to be a day one priority; in fact, it’s likely the Texans will look to use one of their second round picks on a receiver. And don’t be surprised if they spend two picks among their first seven on the position.

Undoubtedly, they’ll be looking for ones that combine size with game-breaking speed, two features prominently missing from the current roster.

Possible Target Round: 2-4
Possible contenders: Tim Carter (Auburn, 5’11", 188; round 2); Terry Charles (Portland State, 6’3", 207; round 4); Andre Davis (Virginia Tech, 6’0", 198; round 2); Kahlil Hill (Iowa, 6’1", 199; round 2-3); Antwaan Randal-El (Indiana, 5’9", 190; round 2-4); Marquis Walker (Michigan; 6’2", 214; round 3-4)

Tight End
Current Roster: Johnny Huggins, Sean McDermott, Billy Miller, Jake Moreland, Rod Rutledge, Kaseem Sinceno
Draft Priority: 6

Chris Palmer likes to use the tight end (they’ve averaged 42 receptions a year the last four in his offense), so, like receiver, the Texans figure to be on the lookout for one during the draft’s first day; preferably one that can both block and catch. Fortunately, quite a few solid prospects should be available in the middle rounds.

Possible Target: Rounds 2-4
Possible contenders: Chris Baker (Michigan State, 6’3", 257; round 3-4); Doug Jolley (BYU, 6’4", 251; round 4); Darnell Sanders (Ohio State, 6’5", 266; round 3-4); Jerramy Stevens (Washington, 6’6", 255; round 2)

Offensive Tackle
Current Roster: Tony Boselli, Jimmy Herndon, Robert Hicks, Jerry Wisne, Ryan Young
Draft Priority: 5

In a perfect world, Tony Boselli and Ryan Young would have the Texans’ two tackle spots nailed down for years — but things are not always perfect.

Boselli is coming off of major surgery and has been oft-injured of late. He’s 29 and while it’s likely he’ll be productive (when healthy) for many more years, it’s never too early to prepare for the day he’s no longer an elite tackle. Thus, the Texans will no doubt look for insurance as well as a possible long-term replacement for him in the middle rounds.

Possible Target: Rounds 3-6
Possible contenders: Reggie Coleman (Tennessee, 6’5", 302; round 5); Marc Colombo (Boston College, 6’8", 292; round 3); Chester Pitts (San Diego State, 6’4", 318; rounds 5-6)

Current Roster: Matt Campbell (G), DeMingo Graham (G), Jim Jones (G), Chris Lorenti (C), Jeremy McKinney (G), Steve McKinney (C/G), Mike Newell (C), Chad Overhauser (G), Ryan Schau (C)
Draft Priority: 1

Unless a certified stud unexpectedly falls into their laps, it’s doubtful the Texans will use a pick in this draft on an interior lineman, at least, not on the first day — their current roster is dotted with talent, depth and youth. In fact, the offensive line’s interior would have to rank as the team’s biggest strength right now.

Defensive Line
Current Roster: Dorian Boose (DE), Jerry DeLoach (DT), Devon Finn (DE), Jabari Issa (DE), Jason Nikolao (DT), Seth Payne (DT), Corey Sears (DE), Gary Walker (DT)
Draft Priority: 7

Seth Payne and Gary Walker will start; Jabari Issa and Jerry DeLoach are both young and full of potential, but have thus far been NFL disappointments.

Considering Dom Capers will likely use as many as five defensive lineman during the course of a game, he’ll almost certainly be looking for at least one starter in the draft, and could begin that search as early as the first pick in round two. All told, it wouldn’t shock if the Texans emerged from the proceedings with two, possibly three defensive lineman.

Possible Target: Rounds 2-4
Possible contenders: Ryan Denney (BYU, 6’7", 276; round 2); Dorsett Davis (Mississippi State, 6’5", 306; rounds 2-3); Nate Dwyer (Kansas, 6’2", 312; rounds 3-4); Kalimba Edwards (South Carolina, 6’5", 264; rounds 1-2); Eddie Freeman (Alabama-Birmingham, 6’4", 309; round 2); Dennis Johnson (Kentucky, 6’6", 258; round 2) and Larry Tripplett (Washington, 6’1", 300; rounds 1-2)

Current Roster: Brian Allen, Shane Elam, Troy Evans, Billy Granville, Greg Jones, Jason Lamar, Khari Samuel, Jamie Sharper, Casey Tisdale, Kailee Wong
Draft Priority: 5.5

After this weekend, we should have a pretty good idea whether or not the Texans think they have a shot at signing Jeremiah Trotter. As it currently stands, Wong and Sharper will start and Greg Jones will likely enter camp as the other starting outside linebacker opposite Wong, meaning they lack an inside starter to pair with Sharper.

If they reach for one early, Trotter will likely be playing elsewhere next year; if they don’t address the position until late, or not at all, they likely have Trotter penciled in. Trotter or no Trotter, this is one of the few spots on the roster with solid depth.

Possible Target: Rounds 5-7
Possible contenders: James Allen (Oregon State, 6’2", 240;rounds 2-4); Algie Atkinson (Kansas, 6’5", 240; rounds 5-6); Ben Leber (Kansas State, 6’3", 244; rounds 5-6)

Current Roster: Marcus Coleman, Aaron Glenn, Anthony Malbrough, Jacoby Shepherd, Jason Simmons, Jason Suttle
Draft Priority: 4

The Texans landed two starting cornerbacks in the expansion draft (Coleman and Glenn) and gave up a conditional 2003 draft choice for Shepherd. He and Simmons figure to play prominent roles in nickel and dime packages.

Cornerback probably isn’t a top priority at all, but then again, Glenn’s deal is up at the end of this year, so if a corner they think can play should fall into their laps, they might pull the trigger.

Possible Target: Rounds 4-7
Possible contenders: Tony Beckham (Wisconsin-Stout, 6’0", 195; rounds 3-4); Sheldon Brown (South Carolina, 5’9", 189; rounds 4-5); Andre Goodman (South Carolina, 5’10", 182; rounds 4-5); Derek Ross (Ohio State, 6’0", 197; rounds 3-4); Kevin Thomas (UNLV, 5’10", 181; rounds 4-5; Roosevelt Williams (Tuskegee, 5’11", 202; rounds 4-6)

Current Roster: Hakim Akbar, Chris Carter, Leomont Evans, Toya Jones, Josh Phillips, Matt Stevens, Kevin Williams
Draft Priority: 7

The Texans currently have quantity, but not a lot of quality at the safety position. Their two projected starters (Stevens and Williams) were, respectively, left unprotected in the expansion draft despite youth and a favorable contract and a street free agent that was still unsigned as late as last December.

The draft is deep with safety talent behind Ed Reed and Roy Williams, who figure to be selected among the top 40; look for a run beginning late second/early third round, which may force the Texans’ hand with their mid-round picks. It’s possible the team could finish the draft’s first day with a safety in tow.

Possible Target: Rounds 3-5
Possible contenders: Marques Anderson (UCLA, 5’10", 212; rounds 3-4); Kevin Curtis (Texas Tech, 6’1", 212; rounds 3-4); Marquand Manuel (Florida, 5’11", 208; rounds 3-4); Willie Offord (South Carolina, 6’1", 215; rounds 4-5) Steve Smith (Oregon, 6’0", 195; rounds 3-4) Tank Williams (Stanford, 6’2", 219; rounds 3-4)

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