Draft Grader: Houston Texans

The Texans recently strung together back-to-back playoff appearances, and their solid drafting from 2008 through 2012 is a good reason why.

| 4 years ago

Draft Grader: Houston Texans

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft class of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade. Up next? Well, that’s the Houston Texans.

Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes has earned a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:

• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors, such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for

Let’s take a look at how Houston drafted.


+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round

Maybe T.J. Yates will one day be the fifth-round version?


+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!

Duane Brown, T (26th overall pick in 2008): Brown was viewed as something of a project when he was selected as a first-round pick, and given how he performed in his rookie year, you wondered just how much development he needed. But he’s got better every year and finished 2012 with his finest season to date. One of (if not the) most complete offensive tackles in the game, he’s coming off a year where he earned a +35.6 grade. Great pick.


+1.0: The scouts nailed it!

Brian Cushing, LB (15th overall pick in 2009): The star of an excellent 2009 draft class, Cushing has quickly become one of the league’s best linebackers. Our third-ranked inside linebacker in 2011 missed most of 2012, but he’s done enough to warrant this grade.


+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor

Glover Quin, S (112th overall pick in 2009): One of the most versatile defensive backs in the league, Houston didn’t put up a huge fight to keep him this offseason. That’s something of a surprise given how well he’s performed.

James Casey, TE/ FB (152nd overall pick in 2009): Spent his early career buried on the depth chart, but when a fullback role opened up he duly delivered as a dangerous weapon out of the backfield. Another player to leave the team, but Houston got plenty in return.

Brice McCain, CB (188th overall pick in 2009): Looked out of his depth until a new coaching staff turned him into a slot corner. Looked the part in 2011 but was noticeably off the pace a year later. Re-signed for another three years where he’ll get a chance to regain that form.

Troy Nolan, S (223rd overall pick in 2009): Not cut out for starting, Nolan has carved out a role for himself as a sub-package safety. Had a cup of coffee with the Dolphins before returning to the Texans this year where he’s always offered depth and versatility.

Kareem Jackson, CB (20th overall pick in 2010): After a horrendous rookie year, took some strides in 2011 and stepped up to look like one of the league’s better No. 2 cornerbacks. His +9.5 coverage grade is a world away from the -8.8 he earned as a rookie.


0.0: It could have been worse

Steve Slaton, RB (89th overall pick in 2008): Back in 2008, the Texans looked like they’d hit the jackpot with Slaton as a late third-rounder, putting forth a season that earned him a +3.8 grade. However, things went south from there, as he couldn’t replicate his form and put the ball on the ground once too often. The rookie year means Houston got something out of him, but it threatened to be a lot more at one point.

Frank Okam, DT (151st overall pick in 2008): Houston gave up on Okam in 2010, after just 138 snaps which earned him a -7.6 grade. Just didn’t work out for them at all.

Dominique Barber, S (173rd overall pick in 2008): You wouldn’t want Barber starting for a prolonged period of time, but in addition to providing depth at the safety spot he’s also contributed with 24 special teams tackles over four years.

Alex Brink, QB (223rd overall pick in 2008): Spent a year hanging around Houston before the Texans finally cut the cord.

Connor Barwin, LB (46th overall pick in 2009): Barwin put up some decent numbers, but an inability to consistently generate pressure and some struggles in the run game make this pick something of a disappointment. No longer with the team.

Antoine Caldwell, G (77th overall pick in 2009): It may surprise some to realize Caldwell has managed 1,480 snaps over four years with the Texans. Rotating in at right guard regularly in his early career, the opportunity was there for him to make the starting spot his own in 2012 but he couldn’t replace Mike Brisiel and earned just a -8.1 grade.

Earl Mitchell, DT (81st overall pick in 2010): He’s a solid part of the defensive line rotation, but he’s never built on that to make himself more. Decent pick.

Darryl Sharpton, LB (102nd overall pick in 2010): Injuries in 2012 should have ensured that he saw more than the 285 snaps he got. They didn’t, and he didn’t exactly impress in late season action as he earned a -6.4 grade. Dangerously close to a negative grade for this pick.

Garrett Graham, TE (118th overall pick in 2010): Finally found the field in 2012 after the departure of Joel Dreessen and, while he was something of a downgrade, he still earned a positive grade. Could be penciled in for a bigger role next year.

Sherrick McManis, CB (144th overall pick in 2010): While he didn’t do a good job of getting on the field in a crowded defensive backfield (30 snaps on defense), he was a core special teamer until he left the team.

Shelley Smith, G (187th overall pick in 2010): Bounced on and off the roster as a rookie while missing all of 2011 with an injury and found himself starting for the Rams a year later.

Trindon Holliday, WR (197th overall pick in 2010): Meant to be a dynamite kick returner with upside on offense, but ball security issues in preseason meant that Holliday fair caught just three balls in his NFL career. Went onto be a special teams playmaker for the Broncos.

Dorin Dickerson, TE (227th overall pick in 2010): A developmental project, he struggled to adapt from college tight end to receiver in the pros. Waived after a year.


-0.5: That pick was not put to good use

Xavier Abidi, LB (118th overall pick in 2008): Abidi was given opportunities to start, but the former fourth-round pick never grasped them. Struggling before being waived in 2011, Abidi earned a -12.1 grade on just 474 snaps.

Anthony Hill, TE (122nd overall pick in 2009): The only dud from the 2008 class, Hill got on the field for just 20 snaps. Tearing his ACL as a rookie didn’t help, but Hill was always going to have a hard time catching on.

Ben Tate, RB (58th overall pick in 2010): Despite missing all of his rookie year, Tate impressed in Year 2. Unfortunately, the dominance of Arian Foster in the backfield has meant Houston hasn’t seen enough of Tate to warrant a second-round selection.


-1.0: What a waste!

Antwaun Molden, CB (79th overall pick in 2008): A real disappointment for the Texans, Molden managed just 32 snaps on defense. The former third-round pick was limited by injuries and excelled on special teams, but didn’t threaten a lineup that was particularly weak at corner.


-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!

Good job with the scouting — none here.


-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!

No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in this draft.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


  • Derrick

    Ben Tate has shown some talent. He should at least be a 0.0

  • r carr

    missed in this otherwise excellent analysis is the fact that they got Adrian Forster as an undrafted free agent in this period. That has to be somewhere in the +2.0 category.