Backward Glance

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March 16, 2006
Backward Glance
by Bob Hulsey

It’s time again for that three-year check-up, comparing my Texans’ mock draft from 2003 to the one that actually happened. In terms of predicting the inscrutable mind of Charley Casserly, this has been my best effort. In terms of the actual result, let’s just say we both left a lot on the table that day. So here’s how the comparison stacks up between my draft and what really took place. Keep in mind, this was our second year and we were still getting comp picks from the NFL for rounds three through seven although I seem to have misplaced the one in the fifth round.

Round 1 (3rd overall)
Texans Pick: Andre Johnson, WR, Miami (Fl)
Bob’s Pick: Andre Johnson, WR, Miami (Fl)

Reality check: As so often is the case, there was no mystery who the Texans were taking in the first round. It’s a good thing the Texans didn’t get the chance to take the wide receiver I really wanted, Charles Rogers, who went to the Lions with the second overall pick. Clearly AJ has had a better start to his career. A better question might be whether Johnson has been worth his lofty draft position. Despite one Pro Bowl season, Johnson hasn’t shown the ability to consistently get open that the upper echelon receivers do and his hands are still unreliable. Would we have been better served with OT Jordan Gross or DE/LB Terrell Suggs? Perhaps the future Hall of Famers from the first round will eventually become S Troy Polamalu (16th) and RB Larry Johnson (27th).

Round 2 (36th overall)
Texans Pick:
Traded to New England along with the 117th pick (fourth round) for a second (41st overall) and a third (75th overall). The second was used to select Bennie Joppru, TE, Michigan and the third was used to select Seth Wand, OT, N.W. Missouri St.
Bob’s Pick: Lee Suggs, RB, Virginia Tech

Reality Check: Ewww. Casserly made a great trade but then mined fool’s gold with his two selections. If you look up "injured reserve" in the dictionary, there is likely a picture of Joppru next to it. In three years, he has not played a down in anger for the Texans. Wand remains the Project from Hell. Perhaps new coaches will get some value out of him but the old ones simply gave up trying. Suggs, meanwhile, lasted until the fourth round where he was snagged by the Browns. He had a breakout year in 2004 but was more Brokeback in 2005. His career appears to be as a reserve.
Verdict: Me, slightly.

Round 3a (67th overall)
Texans Pick:
Antwan Peek, LB, Cincinnati
Bob’s Pick: Antwan Peek, LB, Cincinnati

Reality Check: Peek has been the epitome of what you get from a third-round draft choice. Great sometimes; frustrating at others. He has great speed off the edge and a mean streak but sometimes can be too fast (getting caught out of position) or too mean (picking up cheap fouls). With a Wonderlic score of 13, Peek seemed to take a long time to learn the 3-4 defense. Wonder how TE Jason Witten (69th) or WR Nate Burleson (71st) might have looked instead?

Round 3b (83rd overall)
Texans Pick:
Traded to Oakland along with the 262nd choice (seventh round) for their 2004 second-round choice, later used to select Tony Hollings, RB, Georgia Tech in the 2003 Supplemental Draft.
Bob’s Pick: Traded for a 2004 second-round choice.

Reality Check: Yes, I correctly predicted this and was starting to believe I was really channeling Rasputin. Of course, I had no idea who the trading partner would be or how it would turn out. I’ll save my review of the Hollings pick until next year.

Round 3c (88th overall)
Texans Pick:
Dave Ragone, QB, Louisville
Bob’s Pick: Nicolas Eason, DT, Clemson

Reality Check: This pick came from the Falcons for a fourth-rounder in 2002. Eason wound up being a fourth-rounder who was cut by the Broncos and is now with Cleveland where he finally recorded the first two sacks of his NFL career. Ragone had two disastrous starts in his rookie year and can’t seem to get on the field since then despite being the 2005 MVP in NFL Europe. Both careers could still have upside but they really haven’t had the chance to tell.
Verdict: Incomplete. How can you fairly judge?

Round 4a (101st overall)
Texans Pick:
Domanick Davis, RB, LSU
Bob’s Pick: Robert Johnson, TE, Auburn

Reality Check: Clearly, I took the wrong Tiger from the SEC. Davis has been the best value pick of Casserly’s tenure in Houston. Odd, then, that he’s about to become a part-timer when the Texans add Reggie Bush. Johnson was an undrafted free agent signed by the Bears, picked up by the Redskins last year and recorded the first catch of his career against the Chargers in November.
Verdict: Texans, big time.

Round 4b (117th overall)
Texans Pick:
Traded in the New England deal (see Round 2)
Bob’s Pick: Walter Young, WR, Illinois

Reality Check: I liked Young’s 6’5” height and basketball skills. He was drafted in the seventh round by Carolina where he caught two passes as a rookie. He’s moved on to the Steelers but is a fringe player at best.
Verdict: Even. Neither got much return on investment.

Round 5 (138th overall)
Texans Pick:
Traded to New England before the draft for OT Greg Randall-Robinson.
Bob’s Pick: Jimmy Wilkerson, DE, Oklahoma

Reality Check: Randall-Robinson played right tackle for one season in Houston and made Todd Wade seem like a huge upgrade. What will really make you puke is that the Patriots traded this pick to the Colts who then used it to select DE Robert Mathis. Wilkerson is no Mathis but he has been a backup defensive end and special teamer for three seasons in Kansas City after being selected in the sixth round.
Verdict: Even.

What became of our supplemental choice in the fifth round eludes me but we didn’t have it by the time I did my mock. Our regular sixth-rounder was used to select OG Milford Brown in a special 2002 supplemental draft.

Round 6a (192nd overall)
Texans Pick:
Drew Henson, 3B, Columbus Clippers.
Bob’s Pick: Willie Pile, S, Virginia Tech

Reality Check: Henson, of course, was the former Michigan QB who chose the New York Yankees over football only to find he couldn’t hit a curveball and made too many errors afield. Casserly parlayed this pick into a 2005 third-rounder from Dallas which became RB Vernand Morency. Pile, less spectacularly, was a seventh-rounder for Kansas City and became a special teams contributor for the Chiefs and, later, the Cowboys. This is another one that’s tough to weigh.
Verdict: Texans, slightly. Morency certainly seems to have more upside if nothing else.

Round 6b (214th overall)
Texans Pick:
Keith Wright, DT, Missouri
Bob’s Pick: Ivan "Ike" Taylor, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Reality Check: Wright was a training camp cut who kicked around some other camps. It’s a bit unfair to compare him with Taylor, though, who Pittsburgh took in the fourth round and is now their starting corner. Back when I wrote my mock, however, Taylor was considered a late-round "sleeper." Looks like the Steelers weren’t sleeping. That’s why they’re champs today.
Verdict: Even. Who knows what I would have taken instead since Taylor was long gone?

Round 7a (217th overall)
Texans Pick:
Curry Burns, S, Louisville
Bob’s Pick:
Langston Moore, DT, South Carolina
Reality Check:
Curry Burns, who always made me think of a plate of Indian cooking gone bad, stayed on the practice squad for the Texans then played some in 2004 with the Giants. Moore actually went at the top of round six instead of round seven and has played for Cincinnati and Arizona. The squatty nose tackle has had two sacks and two forced fumbles in a thankless job.
Verdict: Me, slightly. Even though he didn’t fall this far, it’s close enough for me to claim credit.

Round 7b (233rd overall)
Texans Pick:
Chance Pearce, LS, Texas A&M
Bob’s Pick:
Darrell Rideaux, CB, USC

Reality Check: See below.

Round 7c (262nd overall, aka "Mr. Irrelevant")
Texans Pick:
Traded in the Oakland deal (see Round 3b)
Bob’s Pick:
Chance Pearce, LS, Texas A&M

Reality Check: I said at the time, "All we are saying is give Pearce a chance," and the Texans sure did, much to my perpetual amusement. In gratitude, I’ve named my mocks in Chance’s honor. Another one will be coming out next month before the April 2006 draft. Man, I hope we finally have one of those "nailed it" sort of drafts but who am I kidding? For every Domanick Davis or Jerome Mathis, this organization drafts a bunch of Jopprus and Wands. With any luck, we at least won’t have to grumble about dealing multiple first-day picks for less-than-stellar talent as in years past. You can bet owner Bob McNair will have his lasers focused on the War Room this year.

Overall Verdict: Texans, largely because of Davis.

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