2015 Draft in Review: Houston Texans
The NFL draft is over and it suddenly seems like a long time to wait for the next meaningful event on the NFL calendar. But frankly we’re still excited trying to break down what it all means for each team and so we’re going to share some of that excitement.
We continue our look at how each team fared in the draft with the Texans. Houston favored defense early in the first two rounds, but also managed to find some big talent on offense at receiver and center.
Round 1: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Houston added to their defensive backfield taking Johnson, who held opposing Power 5 passers to a 58.1 QB rating when targeted, the sixth-lowest mark in this class. But we weren’t fans of taking him this high, seeing the Wake Forest product as more of a day two player after he finished 2014 with a negative overall grade, in part due to 10 missed tackles and vulnerability against double moves.
Depth Chart Fit: Behind starters Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, but should find snaps in sub-packages.
Round 2: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
Fits a big need at inside linebacker, but he was among the players we labeled as Buyer Beware before the draft. McKinney has exceptional size and straight line explosiveness for the position, using that to his advantage stacking linemen in run defense. At his best, he’s a very good downhill run stopper with an 11.8 Run Stop Percentage that led the SEC at the position. What we don’t like is his upright, lateral movement, which limits him in coverage where he allowed receptions on more than 75% of passes thrown his way.
Depth Chart Fit: Likely in the mix for immediate playing time on early downs.
Round 3: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Needs to improve his route running and hand usage against press coverage, but this is a player we expected to go much earlier. Exceptional at the catch point and in contested situations. Strong finished with a Top-5 overall grade at the position and bested his peers when playing from the slot, gaining 4.06 Yards per Route Run against Power 5 opponents.
Depth Chart Fit: Immediate starter opposite Deandre Hopkins.
Round 5: Keith Mumphrey, WR, Michigan State
Not heavily used in Michigan State’s offense, accounting for 10.7% of the team’s targets. But he gained a 15th-ranked 19 yards per catch and 22 of his 26 receptions resulted in either a first down or touchdown.
Depth Chart Fit: Still a fairly thin WR group even after adding Cecil Shorts, Nate Washington, and Strong, so Mumphrey should have a chance to stick.
Round 6: Reshard Cliett, ED, South Florida
Interesting athlete that finished with a respectable 11.7 Pass Rush Productivity rating, ranking 15th among draft eligible 3-4 outside linebackers. Won’t offer much as a run defender, though he improved in the second half of the season with one missed tackle and 12 stops after Week 6 compared to six MTs and eight stops over his first five games.
Depth Chart Fit: Has at least Whitney Mercilus and Jadaveon Clowney ahead of him, though there are issues with either lack of production or injury that could give Cliett a better chance to make the final 53.
Round 6: Christian Covington, DI, Rice
Graded extremely well in limited snaps with a 12.0 Run Stop Percentage that wasn’t too far from that of top interior defenders like Grady Jarrett. Has a good first step, but struggled against bigger guards and double teams.
Depth Chart Fit: Behind JJ Watt and Jared Crick, maybe a third down player to start. Could have a chance after the Texans didn’t see a single defensive lineman outside of Watt finish with a positive overall grade last season.
Round 7: Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU
Played just 162 snaps, but graded fairly well. Middle of the pack 41.0 Elusive Rating after forcing 15 total tackles and gaining an average of 2.6 yards after contact on his rushes.
Depth Chart Fit: One of several backs behind Arian Foster.
Greg Mancz, C, Toledo: Highest graded center in FBS by a wide margin with exceptional run blocking and just four pressures allowed. Injury concerns likely why he went undrafted.
Tony Washington, ED, Oregon: Sixth-best run defense grade against Power 5 opponents with 33 defensive stops.
Jake Cotton, OG, Nebraska: Position-high 10 penalties, but pretty good in pass protection. Allowed just five total pressures against the Power 5.
Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State: In conference play allowed a catch on 46.2% of targets while holding opposing passers to a 50.0 QB rating – the fourth-best mark among Big Ten safeties.
Brandon Ivory, DI, Alabama: Just 241 snaps on the season, but positive overall and in run defense. Didn’t miss a tackle all year.
Will Johnson, P, Texas State: Johnson led all draft-eligible FBS punters with an average net gain of 41.3 yards on punts
Kendall Lamm, OT, Appalachian State: Third-highest pass blocking grade among non-Power 5 left tackles. Would have been higher if not for nine penalties.
Khari Lee, TE, Bowie State: Didn’t face FBS opposition in 2014
Mike McFarland, TE, USF: Negative as both receiver and blocker, though bulk of red games came in the first half of the season. Was very good against SMU and Memphis late. Fourth-worst drop rate at the position with six drops in 33 catchable balls.
Cam McLeod, DI, Ohio: Positive grade in run defense with 15 stops to just two missed tackles.
Dan Pettinato, DI, Arizona: 24 defensive stops and perfect tackling record, but still finished the season with a negative grade in both run defense and rushing the passer. Overall grade ranked 143rd out of 153 defensive interior players.
Kevin Rodgers, QB, Henderson State: Didn’t face FBS opposition.
James Rouse, DI, Marshall: If not for five penalties, his overall grade would have been among the Top 20 at the position. His 7.5 Pass Rushing Productivity rating ranked second among non-Power 5 DTs in this class.
Chad Slade, OG, Auburn: Didn’t allow a sack last season.
Carlos Thompson, ED, Ole Miss: Only logged 216 snaps, but led all eligible 4-3 DEs in Run Stop Percentage at 12.8%.
Lynden Trail, ED, Norfolk State: Played one game against an FBS opponent (Buffalo). Trail graded positively overall, picking up four stops in run defense to go with a sack and two hurries rushing the passer.
Chandler Worthy, WR, Troy: Only 11 players forced more tackles than Worthy’s 14, though seven drops put him among the worst 20 receivers there.
Trey Williams, RB, Texas A&M: Limited snap count, though positive as a rusher and receiver. Williams caught every pass thrown his way.
Quinn Backus, S, Coastal Carolina: Didn’t face FBS opposition.
Follow Thomas on Twitter: @Maneyt