New Coach, New Talent in Houston

Will Colts fans even recognize the Houston Texans this year? A new coach, substantial free agent additions, and new talent fresh out of college for both the offense and the defense will make the Texans a more formidable foe in 2006.

After a 7-9 season, the Houston Texans took a big step backwards in 2005 with a league worst 2-14 record. As a result, the Texans fired head coach Dom Capers and replaced him with former Broncos' offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. The Texans stirred up major controversy in the 2006 NFL draft by passing on USC star Reggie Bush with the number one pick.

FREE AGENCY

The most significant move in free agency by the Texans was the acquisition of wide receiver Eric Moulds through a trade with the Buffalo Bills. With the 30th ranked passing offense and only one receiver breaking the 500 yard mark (Andre Johnson), this addition was desperately needed.

Unfortunately, beyond Moulds and Johnson, the Texans have little depth at wide receiver due to the loss of Jabar Gaffney and Corey Bradford in free agency. As it stands, newly acquired Kevin Walter and Derick Armstrong, both with little NFL experience, will battle for the number three wide receiver position.

The Texans bolstered their offense by signing center Mike Flanigan (Packers), who should help the struggling offensive line, tight end Jeb Putzier (Broncos), running back Antowain Smith (Saints) and fullback Jameel Cook (Bucs).

Defensively, the loss of safety Marcus Coleman (Cowboys) will hurt the Texans' secondary, leaving young and unproven C.C. Brown and Glenn Earl as the starting safeties.

The Texans improved their defense by adding veteran linebacker Sam Cowart and defensive end Anthony Weaver, who will both start for the defensive unit. Weaver will likely shift to defensive tackle for the 2006 season.

2006 DRAFT ANALYSIS

Round 1, Pick 1 – DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State
Aside from potentially becoming one of the greats at his position, the selection of Reggie Bush would have put the Texans on the map, generated revenue and stolen some of the state's attention from the Cowboys.

However, the selection of Mario Williams wasn't a bad pick. With the 31st ranked defense in 2005, the Texans got themselves an instant impact player who can make an opposing quarterback's life miserable. Williams' freakish size, quickness and explosiveness will make the Texans' front four, which also added Anthony Weaver, markedly improved and one of the quickest in the NFL. As Colts' fans know, pressure on an opposing quarterback can make the entire defense look much better.

All of the hype about Bush made everyone forget what a special talent the Texans' have in running back Domanick Davis. Last year he ran for 976 yards (4.2 per carry), catching 39 passes for another 337 yards. Also, the addition of running back Antowain Smith and fullback Jameel Cook, solidified the Texans' running game.

Round 2, Pick 33 – OLB DeMeco Ryans, University of Alabama
This may have been the spot to select USC offensive tackle Winston Justice, but the Texans stuck with defense. By doing so, they got themselves a terrific player in outside linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

Ryans' performance during his senior year, 76 tackles and 5 sacks, earned him All-American and All-SEC honors.

While he is a bit undersized at 6'1, 235 pounds, Ryans makes up for it with his quickness, tackling and intelligence (he graduated from Alabama cum laude). An excellent defender in pass coverage, Ryans has a legitimate chance to earn a starting spot at one of the outside linebacker positions.

Round 3, Pick 65 – OG Charles Spencer, University of Pittsburgh
Round 3, Pick 66 – OT Eric Winston, University of Miami

Texans' fans, and quarterback David Carr, breathed a sigh of relief when the team selected offensive linemen with their back-to-back third round picks. The Texans gave up a league high 68 sacks last season and these selections should help to improve that statistic.

Charles Spencer played both tackle and guard in college and has great size at 6'5, 350 pounds. He is quick off the ball and good in pass protection.

Most experts had Winston off the board well before the third round, and the Texans' got themselves another great talent on the offensive line. Winston is very quick and agile, but at 6'7, 310, he may need to pack on a few pounds to dominate in the NFL.

Spencer and Winston will both have an opportunity to win a starting position on the Texans' offensive line this summer.

Round 4, Pick 98 – TE Owen Daniels, University of Wisconsin
With safeties Darnell Bing, Calvin Lowry and Ko Simpson still on the board, this pick was a head-scratcher considering the Texans' need for a safety and the fact they picked up Jeb Putzier, an above average tight end, this offseason.

Owen Daniels was the number two tight end his senior year at Wisconsin and is undersized at the position (6'3, 243 pounds). He is very versatile and a good receiver. Daniels will likely serve as the Texans' number three tight end in 2006.

Round 6, Pick 170 – RB Wali Lundy, University of Virginia
With the Texans showing no interest in resigning running back Jonathan Wells and only three running backs on the current roster, sixth round pick Wali Lundy has a chance to make the team.

Lundy had the fewest rushing yards of his career his senior season, but came on strong late in the year, running for 10 touchdowns in Virginia's last 5 contests. Lundy racked up 52 touchdowns rushing and receiving during his college career.


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