Draft Central: Texans' first-round options
Whether or not the Texans take a wide receiver with the 27th pick in the NFL draft, the fact is, that whichever player they select has to make an impact right away.
Many feel that a receiver is the only option for the Texans in the first round and it’s a fair assessment. The injury to DeVier Posey, who looks to be a mid-season return, along with the fact that any player currently on the Texans’ roster hasn’t been able to step up as a No. 2 receiver behind Andre Johnson, shows that finding a receiver to line up opposite Johnson is a priority.
But this is a deep draft in terms of receiver and the Texans have several needs to address. For argument’s sake, here are five players that don’t play wide receiver that could possibly go to the Texans with the 27th pick.
Jesse Williams (Alabama) NT: 6-3, 323 pounds
In a class that is short on nose tackles, Williams is the best by far. The Brisbane, Australia native has been rumored to be able to lift over 600 pounds and would be a huge load in the middle of Wade Phillips’ defensive line. Shaun Cody is a free agent and underwent back surgery this offseason. Earl Mitchell is set to be the starting nose tackle for the Texans this season and played well last year. But if Williams lands with the Texans, Mitchell would most likely move to a backup role. Additionally, Williams is athletic enough to play multiple positions in a 3-4 scheme.
Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) TE: 6-5, 250 pounds
Eifert won the Mackey Award (Nation’s top TE) last season and is the best tight end in the draft. The Texans do have Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham. Daniels is still very effective but is aging and his salary could come off the books after this season if the Texans make a move for Eifert. Graham has shown great hands but is essentially just a younger Daniels.
Eifert has great hands and has the ability to break arm tackles to get extra yards. He’s an underrated blocker that can make catches in tight spaces. Eifert finished at Notre Dame as the schools all-time leader in catches and receiving yards for a tight end and he left a year early.
Jarvis Jones (Georgia) LB: 6-2, 245 pounds
Jones is a monster. The Texans need a linebacker after the departure of Connor Barwin and the injury issues that have plagued the Texans at middle linebacker. If Jones comes to Houston, OLB Brooks Reed could move inside next to Brian Cushing and Jones would excel on the outside. The likes of Whitney Mercilus, Cushing, Reed and Jones on the field at the same time is scary good. Jones played in the minor leagues for the NFL, the SEC and dominated. The consensus All-American led the SEC and the country in tackles for loss (24.5), sacks (13.5) and forced fumbles (7). Fills a huge need and would make an impact from Day 1.
D.J. Fluker (Alabama) OT: 6-5, 339 pounds
The Texans struggled to find consistency on the right side of the offensive line in 2012 due to injury and performance. They did re-sign Ryan Harris and Derek Newton could return from knee surgery in time for camp, but the combination of Fluker and Brandon Brooks immediately bolsters the right side. This pick would also allow Ben Jones to rotate at both guard spots and further hone his craft as the future center of the team.
Kevin Minter (LSU) ILB: 6-0, 246 pounds
Linebacker is a clear area of need for the Texans and drafting the 2012 LSU team MVP to play inside allows Brooks Reed to stay at his customary position on the outside. The consensus All-SEC first teamer is a big hitter who could start right away. He significantly improved his combine 40-yard dash time (4.81) at his pro day (4.67) and is all but guaranteed to be on the board at No. 27.