Trying Them On For Size

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Trying Them On For Size
by Warren DeLuca

In previous drafts, the Texans were able to come away with first-round picks that became immediate starters. This year could be different, as the team’s first pick isn’t quite so high, the Houston roster is deeper so the staring lineup is harder to break into, and the overall draft class isn’t considered one of the best in recent years. Charley Casserly has already said that the Texans’ first pick probably won’t step right in and start.

So how would the prospects most often mentioned as candidates to be the Texans’ top pick this year fit into the team? For each of those players, we took a look at which current Texans would be impacted if the Texans drafted him, how he’d fit into the team as a rookie, and, just for fun, which number he’d wear if he were to don the deep steel blue, the liberty white, and, up to twice a season, the battle red jersey.

RB Cedric Benson, Texas
Texans Affected: Domanick Davis, Jonathan Wells, Tony Hollings, J.J. Moses, Jason Anderson, Adam Matthews
How He’d Fit: Benson would force Davis out of the starting lineup and into a third-down/change-of-pace back role, as Benson is the type of workhorse runner that Dom Capers would love to feature. This would allow Davis to take over as the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner.
Jersey Number: 34. Benson’s college number, 32, belongs to Wells. The comparisons to another Texas high school legend and Longhorn back who was a first-round pick of a Houston team would be inevitable regardless of his jersey number, so Benson may as well embrace them by taking the hallowed 34. Benson should be used to those types of comparisons after replacing Ricky Williams at Texas.

RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Auburn
Texans Affected: D. Davis, Wells, Hollings, Moses, J. Anderson, Matthews
How He’d Fit: Because of durability concerns with both backs, Williams and Davis would split the carries fairly equally, at least until Williams showed that he deserved the bulk of the load due to his superior big-play ability. Between the two of them, the Texans would also have some flexibility as to who would return kickoffs and punts as both are capable in that department.
Jersey Number: 24, his college number.

WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina
Texans Affected: Jabar Gaffney, Derick Armstrong, Corey Bradford, Kendrick Starling, Moses, Sloan Thomas, Allen Suber, Nick Narcisse
How He’d Fit: The starting wide receiver spot opposite Andre Johnson would be Williamson’s to lose. Defenses would have to respect Williamson’s deep speed, which would help draw attention away from Johnson. Williamson starting would allow Gaffney to stay in the slot, where he’s most effective, and Armstrong and Bradford would battle it out for the fourth spot. Williamson could also return kickoffs, although that’s unlikely if he’s a starting wideout.
Jersey Number: 89, since Billy Miller already has 82, Williamson’s college number, and 89 is the only 80 number available.

OT Alex Barron, Florida State
Texans Affected: Seth Wand, Garrick Jones, Chad Beasley
How He’d Fit: He’d compete with Wand for the starting left tackle job. If he didn’t win it, Barron would be a backup since he’s not a drive blocker who could also contribute at guard. He’d play on the field goal/extra point unit and because of his rare athleticism for an offensive lineman, could also block on the kickoff return team.
Jersey Number: 74, since Fred Weary already has 70, Barron’s college number.

DL Shaun Cody, Southern Cal
Texans Affected: Corey Sears, Jerry Deloach, Junior Ioane, Jason Davis
How He’d Fit: The Texans’ starting defensive line is set, but Cody could be in the rotation at each of the three positions. His quickness would make a nice change of pace to the starters’ power, and could earn him playing time at the tackle positions in the nickel and dime packages. Cody blocked five field goal attempts at USC so he could contribute on the field goal/extra point block unit and the punt return team. As a freshman he also returned a short kickoff, so he also has experience on the kickoff return team.
Jersey Number: 74, since his college number, 84, isn’t an NFL defensive lineman’s number and all of the 90s are already taken.

DE Marcus Spears, LSU
Texans Affected: Sears, Ioane, J. Davis, Matt Murphy
How He’d Fit: Spears would be in the defensive end rotation as a rookie but would not start unless a starter were injured (which, based on Walker’s history, isn’t out of the question). Since he was an All-American high school tight end who also saw time at that position as a college freshman (with two catches for 20 yards), Spears could also serve as a jumbo tight end in short-yardage sets. He would play on the field goal/extra point block, punt return, and kickoff return units as well as block on the field goal/extra point team like he did at LSU. His ability to catch could be exploited by using him as a surprise receiver on fake kick plays.
Jersey Number: 74, since his college number, 84, isn’t an NFL defensive lineman’s number and all of the 90s are already taken.

ILB Derrick Johnson, Texas
Texans Affected: Kailee Wong, Troy Evans, DaShon Polk, Frank Chamberlin, Zeke Moreno, Shantee Orr, Quincy Monk, Dave Moretti
How He’d Fit: Capers and Vic Fangio would favor Wong’s experience (although he earned it as an outside linebacker, not inside) and leadership, so Johnson would have a hard time breaking into the starting lineup early on. His ability to blitz and cover would gain him reps in the nickel package and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he earned more playing time as the season progressed. He should excel on virtually all of the special team units.
Jersey Number: 55, since his college number, 11, isn’t an NFL linebacker’s number, and 55 is the only linebacker number available. At least 55 is a multiple of 11.

OLB Shawne Merriman, Maryland
Texans Affected: Antwan Peek, Charlie Anderson, Tim Cheatwood, D.D. Acholonu, Anthony Dunn, Tyreo Harrison
How He’d Fit: Merriman would battle Peek for the starting right outside linebacker spot. He played a defensive end-linebacker hybrid position as a sophomore at Maryland, so he may be able to make the transition from college end to NFL linebacker more smoothly than some. Merriman’s pass rush ability could also earn him snaps as a rush end in passing situations if he can’t overcome Peek’s experience advantage. He’d also play on nearly all of the special team units.
Jersey Number: 55, since his college number, 45, isn’t an NFL linebacker’s number, and 55 is the only linebacker number available.

OLB Demarcus Ware, Troy
Texans Affected: Peek, C. Anderson, Cheatwood, Acholonu, Dunn, Harrison
How He’d Fit: Ware would be in the same situation as Merrmian, battling Peek for playing time, although Ware lacks any experience at linebacker. Ware’s pass rush skills would make it tough to keep him off the field, though. He should help on all of the special teams except maybe the extra point/field goal unit. With Ware and Faggins, the Texans would lead the NFL in Demarcuses.
Jersey Number: 55, since Junior Ioane already has Ware’s college number, 94, and 55 is the only linebacker number available.

CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, West Virginia
Texans Affected: Demarcus Faggins, Lewis Sanders, Jason Bell, Moses
How He’d Fit: Jones would challenge Faggins and Sanders to be the cornerback in the Texans’ nickel and dime packages when Dunta Robinson shifts to nickelback. If Jones didn’t win that job, he’d battle for the dimeback position. He’s an experienced punt and kickoff return man and would take those duties from Moses, and would also play on the kickoff and punt coverage units.
Jersey Number: 29, since his college number, 9, isn’t an NFL defensive back’s number.

CB Antrel Rolle, Miami
Texans Affected: Faggins, Sanders, Bell, Moses, Ramon Walker, Jason Simmons, Jammal Lord, David Young
How He’d Fit: Like Jones, Rolle would battle Faggins and Sanders to be the cornerback in the nickel and dime packages vacated when Robinson moves inside to nickelback. If that didn’t pan out, he’d fight for the dimeback position. Rolle has the size and physical nature to also be a factor at safety, and some observers believe that will be ultimately be his best pro position. He returned punts as a junior so he could also make a run at being the Texans’ primary punt and kickoff returner, and should be a standout on the kickoff and punt coverage units.
Jersey Number: 24, since his college number, 6, isn’t an NFL defensive back’s number. Cedric Benson Vince Wilfork Home

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