Charley and Me

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February 12, 2005
Charley and Me

by Bob Hulsey

One of the things I can’t stand about media punditry is that, like weather forecasters, they can be wrong more often than they are right and nobody remembers, much less calls them to task for it. Each year, I have presented for HPF readers a mock draft (known going forward as the Chance Pearce Memorial Mock Draft) of Texan draft selections which, while never claiming to be as good as the pros, allows me to match my forecasting skills against the reality of what eventually took place and ask who made the better judgements. Three years is a good interval to grade Texans GM Charley Casserly and myself on our work. So, here’s my comparison of the 2002 draft with my mock and the real world:

1 (1st overall)
Texans pick: David Carr, QB, Fresno St.
My choice: David Carr, QB, Fresno St.
Reality Check: It was already known who Houston was going to select but there were three other names mentioned as possibilities, OT Bryant McKinney, QB Joey Harrington and DE Julius Peppers. While Peppers has probably had the best career of the four, he would not have been used well in a 3-4 scheme. Harrington seems to have more detractors in Motown than Carr does here. McKinney had that nasty holdout and hasn’t quite lived up to expectations up north. All things considered, Carr was the best choice.

2a (33rd overall)
Texans pick: Jabar Gaffney, WR, Florida
My choice: Larry Tripplett, DT, Washington
Reality Check: Tripplett was taken by Indy with the 42nd choice so he would have been available. He has not been as dominant with the Colts as I would have thought but then Gaffney has been somewhat disappointing with the Texans. If the Texans do, as some claim, see Gaffney now as no better than a third receiver, he wasn’t worth this high a choice. His play did improve in 2004 however and I’m not as down on him as some seem to be.
Verdict: Even

2b (50th overall)
Texans pick: Chester Pitts, G-T, San Diego St.
My choice: Cliff Russell, WR, Utah
Reality Check: I dubbed Pitts a "reach" on draft day but he developed nicely at LT in Tony Boselli’s absence although he regressed last season while having to learn a new position (LG) and a new blocking scheme. Russell lasted until the 87th pick by the Redskins where he was IR’d the first year, caught two passes in ’03 and one last year with the Bengals while his niche became kickoff returns. Ouch.
Verdict: Big Edge to Texans

3a (66th overall)
Texans Pick: Fred Weary, C-G, Tennessee
My Choice: Ben Leber, OLB, Kansas St.
Reality Check: Weary has shown he is a borderline pro player and has been strictly backup material the last two years after getting pummeled as a rookie in 2002. Leber, who was chosen by San Diego five picks later, has been exactly as advertised – steady but not spectacular. A starter all three seasons, he even made a nice switch to 3-4 LB when the Chargers changed defensive schemes last season. As a strongside backer, he is good value at this point in a draft.
Verdict: Edge to Bob

3b (83rd overall)
Texans Pick: Charles Hill, DT, Maryland
My Choice: Maurice Morris, RB, Oregon
Reality Check: Hill was a headscratcher when his name was called and turned out to be a bust, getting cut in training camp the second year. Morris was already gone in the draft by this point, taken by Seattle in the second round. He’s done as much kick returning as running with the Seahawks but then how do you unseat Shaun Alexander? Both of us probably wish we had tabbed a RB taken soon afterwards by the Eagles named Brian Westbrook.
Verdict: Edge to Bob (at least mine stuck)

4a (99th overall)
Texans Pick: Jonathan Wells, RB, Ohio St.
My choice: Andre Lott, CB, Tennessee
Reality Check: Wells is a Dom Capers type of back who has had good days and bad days in Houston. He’s also been good on special teams. For a fourth-rounder, that’s all you can expect. Lott stayed on the board until the fifth round where he was chosen by the Redskins. His playing time in D.C. has diminished each of his three seasons.
Verdict: Edge to Texans

4b (116th overall)
Texans pick: Traded to Atlanta for a third in 2003
My choice: Justin Bannan, DT, Colorado
Reality Check: Still on the board by this selection, Bannan has been a reserve defensive tackle for three seasons in Buffalo. Last year he played sparingly but that was probably due more to the signing of Sam Adams to play his position. Decent value for this part of the draft. The Texans used the third-rounder for third-string QB Dave Ragone the next year.
Verdict: Incomplete – depends on what becomes of Ragone

5a (136th overall)
Texans pick: Jarrod Baxter, FB, New Mexico
My choice: Coy Wire, S, Stanford
Reality Check: Baxter showed promise as a rookie in 2002 but injuries and Moran Norris have sidelined him ever since. Wire was nabbed by Buffalo with the 97th pick so he was long gone by the time the fifth round began. Wire, too, had his best season as a rookie and has seen his playing time drop ever since. Given how early Wire was selected, it doesn’t seem now like a fair comparison.
Verdict: Scratch

5b (153rd overall)
Texans pick: Ramon Walker, S, Pittsburgh
My choice: Grant Irons, DE, Notre Dame
Reality Check: Walker was regarded as a second or third-rounder by many draftniks. If I had guessed he’d still be around this late, I’d have chosen him too. Irons was chosen by (who else?) Buffalo but has moved on to Oakland as a reserve. Walker, meanwhile, has been a reserve who spent all of last year out of action.
Verdict: Even

6a (173rd overall)
Texans pick: Demarcus Faggins, CB, Kansas St.
My choice: Keith Heinrich, TE, Sam Houston St.
Reality Check: Heinrich was taken by Carolina with the very next pick and both were good picks for so low in the draft. Both were quite raw as rookies but have been brought along slowly and appear to be making progress towards being solid contributors. Faggins did well as a nickel corner and Heinrich, picked up by Cleveland, has been a backup tight end with potential to be a starter someday. I’m high on both but Faggins has accomplished more so far.
Verdict: Edge to Texans

6b (190th overall)
Texans pick: Howard Green, DT, LSU
My choice: D’Andre (D.D.) Lewis, ILB, Texas
Reality Check: Green was just that and, after a season riding the pines for Houston, he was cut and picked up by the Saints. Lewis became an undrafted free agent who stuck with Seattle. He played well in 2003 but was IR’d last season. In my mind, this was where Lewis should have been drafted.
Verdict: Edge to Bob

7a (229th overall)
Texans pick: Greg White, DE, Minnesota
My choice: Joe Hall, FB, Kansas St.
Reality Check: I’ll admit my seventh rounders are where I lean toward comedy. White didn’t catch on with Houston although his forced fumble in the Texans’ first ever win (a pre-season game in New Orleans) set up the winning field goal. Hall was a 320-lb. fullback who is probably now working at an all-you-can-eat-buffet somewhere in Kansas.
Verdict: Even

7b (261st and last overall)
Texans pick: Ahmad Miller, DT, UNLV
My choice: Patrick Crummey, OG, Youngstown St.
Reality Check: Neither made it past training camp.
Verdict: Even

Overall, both the Texans and myself did okay but could have done better. I had a big whiff in the second round while Casserly had two whiffs in the third. The Texans came away with five players (Carr, Gaffney, Pitts, Wells and Faggins) who appear to be making significant contributions, yet with all the extra picks they had, this seems a little disappointing. I would have provided three definite contributors (Carr, Tripplett and Leber) and three others (Bannan, Heinrich and Lewis) capable of being solid contributors who were there when it was our time to pick.

I’ve learned more about drafting for a 3-4 defense since then and have been able to see trends in Casserly’s drafting style that I wasn’t aware of back in the beginning. I’m not one to cherry pick and call somebody out for, say, not taking Clinton Portis. Those things happen. This is not an exercise in Casserly-bashing or claiming that I’m "just as good."

Finding three starters and two solid backups would normally be a great draft. With all the extra picks and all the open jobs in an inaugural season, however, I think more could have been achieved.

Bob Hulsey has a bumper sticker on the back of his pickup that says "Ask me about Chance Pearce."

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