April 24, 2002
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
by Keith Weiland
The Texans drafted twelve players last weekend, executing on two years’ worth of planning, scouting and evaluating. Now comes the fun part: this is our chance to take a look back at who was drafted where and when, applying hindsight and snap judgments.
Each of the selections will spell out who the Texans could have taken but left on the table, who I would have taken had I been calling the shots in the war room, and then whether the Texans should have done anything differently with the pick. So let’s get started
Round 1, #1 overall: David Carr, QB, Fresno State
Coulda: Well, with the first overall pick, the Texans coulda taken anyone. They set their sights early on Carr, and never lost focus. That’s determination. They left Joey Harrington on the board as the only other legitimate choice at quarterback. If Carr becomes this franchise’s starting quarterback for the next decade, then this draft deserves an A regardless of who else was drafted.
Woulda: Initially, I thought the smart choice woulda been to take LT Bryant McKinnie and hold off until 2003 to take a franchise quarterback, knowing that next year’s QB class would be deep. I’ve reconsidered that position over the past couple months. Carr is a special player, and it is more risky to bank on something a year away that the Texans have little control over.
Shoulda: The Texans made their choice known far too early, and I don’t mean the announcement Casserly made on April 2. They fawned all over the kid at the Senior Bowl in January and made it too obvious that they were sold on him. The NFL Draft is a giant chess game with 31 other players. Gary Kasparov doesn’t tip Big Blue by holding his chess pieces long before moving them, even if he has the first move of the game. Better draft management shoulda been to try and trade down – even just a couple spots – and still land Carr, netting an extra pick in the process.
Round 2, #33 overall: Jabar Gaffney, WR, Florida
Coulda: This was the most anticipated pick for Texan fans. Several players with first round talent slipped down to #33, and the Texans had an opportunity to either make a statement on offense or defense with this pick. They left OLB Kalimba Edwards, guards Andre Gurode and Toniu Fonoti and DT Larry Tripplett on the board. The Texans had high ratings for Gaffney, a receiver they feel can be a big playmaker for their offense.
Woulda: I was excited that Edwards was still on the board at this point. Questions may still exist regarding his health and whether he could play OLB in the 3-4 scheme. Prior to that injury, Edwards was considered a top-15 type of pick. With ample WR talent still on the board, and lingering concerns about prior Florida receivers, I would not have taken Gaffney at #33. Without health concerns, Edwards woulda been my pick, but it woulda been tough to pass on Gurode.
Shoulda: The Texans were smart not to trade up with this selection into the latter half of the first round. This pick is a valuable one, and despite any preconceptions that exist with Florida receivers, Gaffney is a first-round-quality wideout. The Texans must have been able to explain to themselves how Gaffney is different from those earlier Gators.
Round 2, #50 overall: Chester Pitts, OL, San Diego State
Coulda: The Texans coulda taken a variety of players with this pick, including RB Clinton Portis and WR Antonio Bryant. Portis did not carry a consistent grade by all the teams, and he may not have been the type of back that will fit the Texans’ offense. The Texans did take extra time in evaluating Bryant, and by passing on him twice in the second round, they obviously had questions about him beyond his on-field talent.
Woulda: DL Anthony Weaver looked mighty appealing to me at #50, as did Bryant. Notre Dame has not produced many solid NFL players in recent years, so his collegiate coaching might be a concern. The Texans did take several defensive linemen later in the draft, so it is a little peculiar that they passed on Weaver at #50.
Shoulda: Regardless of whether Pitts develops into a longtime starter for the Texans, all indications are that he shoulda been available with a later pick, thus making Pitts a “reach” in the middle of the second round. If the Texans were that sold on him, Casserly shoulda moved down 30 spots, 10 spots, heck even one spot and gained something extra in the process.
Round 3, #66 overall: Fred Weary, OL, Tennessee
Coulda: The Texans surprised everyone by selecting a second consecutive offensive lineman with this pick. The team stayed true to their draft board, and that is commendable. The Texans left another DE/OLB, Will Overstreet, on the table, plus LBs Rasheed Saleem, Ben Leber, Rocky Calmus and James Allen.
Woulda: Weary is an interior lineman that had second round value, and I admire the selection. Taking a linebacker at this spot woulda been very tempting though, as Overstreet and Saleem might have thrived in a 3-4 system.
Shoulda: The Texans did fine in selecting Weary, a versatile lineman who may have been one of the top guard/centers in the draft. Trading down any farther would have jeopardized their ability to land someone else of Weary’s value.
Round 3, #83 overall: Charles Hill, DL, Maryland
Coulda: WR Maquise Walker, who drew too many comparisons to former Michigan teammate David Terrell, slipped to the latter half of the third round and coulda been a nice pickup for the Texans. The team also passed on offensive linemen Terrence Metcalf and Seth McKinney, RB Lamar Gordon and TE Chris Baker.
Woulda: Walker might develop into a nice possession receiver for Tampa Bay alongside Keyshawn Johnson. With Corey Bradford signed and Gaffney already drafted, the Texans woulda been able to give Walker time to develop as a third or fourth receiver. Metcalf woulda been a very good pick, too.
Shoulda: If the Texans selected either Metcalf or McKinney as their third consecutive interior lineman, they might have instigated a riot. Like Pitts, Hill was another player that might qualify as a first-day reach. In all likelihood, Hill would have still been around in the fourth round.
Round 4, #99 overall: Jonathan Wells, RB, Ohio State
Coulda: The Texans left Fresno State widebody Alan Harper out there, as well as DE/OLB Alex Brown, OG Martin Bibla, WR Ron Johnson, CB Keyou Craver and S Kevin Curtis to name a few. Brown as an OLB was certainly a risky pick, and Bibla coulda been another pick at guard.
Woulda: Wells was a nice pick, but my favorite running back, Chester Taylor, woulda been on the board with a later pick. Wells does fit the big back profile that Casserly likes, though, and he might be a better fit for their offense. Tough to choose between Harper and Johnson, but Harper woulda fit well into the D-line rotation. I did like Johnson’s productivity at the college level though.
Shoulda: Casserly carefully evaluated offers to trade down from the first pick on the second day. If he did though, he ran a big chance of missing out on Wells, so sticking at #99 was a smart decision. Casserly did bite on an offer from the Falcons to take a third round pick in 2003 for a mid-fourth rounder (#116) this season. The trade was nice upgrade for a team looking to build its foundation.
Round 5, #136 overall: Jarrod Baxter, FB, New Mexico
Coulda: A couple defensive linemen were passed here, including Justin Bannan, Rocky Bernard and Kenyon Coleman. Also left on the board were S Mel Mitchell and LB Andra Davis.
Woulda: This might have been a nice spot to take a local college player like Bernard, but Baxter was the top fullback available.
Shoulda: Out of all the Texans draft picks (save for possibly Carr), this was the one where Casserly may have taken a need over best player available. By trading out of the fourth round, the Texans may have been biting their fingernails as the Cowboys selected FB Jamar Martin, followed closely by the Packers taking FB/RB Najeh Davenport.
Round 5, #153 overall: Ramon Walker, FS, Pittsburgh
Coulda: The Texans continued to stick to their board and ignore needs at tight end by passing on Robert Royal and Keith Heinrich.
Woulda: Another great second day pick. Walker will be a good special teams player this season that may push his way into the starting lineup before all is said and done.
Shoulda: Though a tight end might have been nice, safety is a position that needed attention. Walker was a player that slipped from a third round selection to the fifth, and he will be a good gamble for the Texans.
Round 6, #173 overall: DeMarcus Faggins, CB, Kansas State
Coulda: The Texans coulda chosen UNLV corner Kevin Thomas with this pick. The team also passed on taking LB Nick Rogers and WR Kahlil Hill.
Woulda: My pick was Hill. Good size (over 6’1″ and almost 200 pounds) and loads of potential. There might be some maturity issues present with Hill, but he woulda been a steal in the sixth round, and he gets an excellent shot at finding playing time in Atlanta.
Shoulda: Faggins did not have a good finish to the season. If the team wanted a corner, Thomas shoulda been the selection, but Hill was the player with the most upside at this pick.
Round 6, # 190 overall: Howard Green, DT, Louisiana State
Coulda: RBs Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor and Brian Allen were drafted after Green. As for defensive linemen, Derrius Monroe went in the early part of the seventh round, followed closely behind by OL Joaquin Gonzalez.
Woulda: Gonzalez woulda been my pick. Borderline first day selection, Gonzalez is a smart player who at worst woulda been a backup for the Texans.
Shoulda: Green was not a productive player at LSU, but his size gives him potential to be a good player in a defensive line rotation for Dom Capers. By taking Gonzlaez, however, Casserly shoulda put his stamp on the 2002 draft as being one for the 21st century of Hogs.
Round 7, #229 overall: Greg White, OLB, Minnesota
Coulda: The Texans coulda given Carr a gift in selecting his fellow Fresno State alum, WR Rodney Wright. It was somewhat surprising to see OT Victor Rogers slip this far in the draft, and DE Carlos Hall, like White, was another ‘tweener possibility at this pick, too.
Woulda: Rogers may have been the best value, but Wright woulda been the security blanket for Carr to learn the Texans offense. From their days at Fresno, Carr and Wright developed a rhythm and knew exactly what to expect from each other.
Shoulda: Texans fans shouldn’t forget that K Kris Brown was added to the roster for the first seventh round selection (plus a nice guaranteed payday). Considering the lack of talent still on board at this point, the pick lost in obtaining Brown does not appear that costly. By drafting White, the Texans rolled the dice in finding another outside LB to play opposite of Kailee Wong. It’s a good gamble this late in the draft. If nothing else, White will be given a shot to make a name for himself on special teams.
Round 7, #261 overall: Ahmad Miller, DT, UNLV
Coulda: The Texans chose to completely ignore traditional linebackers in this draft, leaving Trev Faulk, D.D. Lewis and Jashon Sykes seeking employment as free agents. WRs Kelly Campbell and Brian Poli-Dixon and OG Antwan Kirk-Hughes also went undrafted.
Woudla: Poli-Dixon is an intriguing prospect, and woulda been my pick. The LBs may not be ideal prospects in a 3-4 defense, and Campbell reportedly tested positive during the combine.
Shoulda: It’s Mr. Irrelevant for crying out loud! The Texans can’t go wrong with this pick, and shoulda already been preparing for the 2003 draft.
Keith Weiland thanks readers for making it through this article when they coulda, woulda, and shoulda been doing something else.