AFC Draft Recap - Houston Texans

The easiest way to the playoffs is to win your division. The Jaguars seem poised to challenge for their first division title since 1999. A team that the Jaguars will have to contend with is the Houston Texans, who split the season series with Jacksonville in 2007. JagNation is going to take a closer look at what the Texans did in their draft.

The Houston Texans haven't been an especially successful NFL franchise, as they have a .333 winning percentage which includes no winning seasons, and they've finished .500 just once, in 2007. Despite the lack of success, Houston has a winning record against the Jaguars (7-5), and appears to be a team on the rise, that is led by quarterback Matt Schaub and defensive end Mario Williams.

In the first-round of last month's draft, the Texans addressed a major need on their offensive line by selecting former Virginia Tech offensive tackle, Duane Brown (#26 overall). The Texans have always had a difficult time protecting their quarterbacks and creating room for their rushing game, and they are hoping that Brown can compete for and subsequently win the starting job at left tackle in training camp. With just one pick on the first day of the draft, and a run on offensive tackles already occurring, the Texans may have reached for Brown to fill a desperate need. NFL Draft Expert Tom Marino, who has better than 35 years scouting experience weighed in on the Texans first-round pick—

A former tight end who started two seasons on the right side before moving to the left side as a senior. Never saw him finish inline (didn't show playing strength or much in the way of toughness). Really struggled with big people. I did like his feet and body balance on pass protection, but was bull rushed and had problems with his anchor. Not as good as he should be, but has too much athletic potential to throw in the scrap heap. Round 6- 7.

The Texans next selection was in round three, and they decided to go with former Eastern Kentucky University cornerback Antwaun Molden (#79 overall). Houston has been looking for a reliable corner to team up with former first-round pick Dunta Robinson, and they may have found that player in the speedy Molden. Molden stands a shade over 6'0" tall, and weighs 198 lbs., and runs the 40 in the 4.3's.

Here's what Tom Marino had to say about Molden—

Toledo transfer who has lined up at both corner and safety. Also has run the sprints and track. Has excellent size and speed to go along with excellent quickness and excellent athletic ability. Equally impressive in press and when working off. Showed explosive hips, quick feet, and the speed to match up with speed receivers. Just didn't see A-1 ball skills and play making ability. Is not there yet, but has too much physical talent not to play. Round # 3 to 4.

With their second of two third-round picks, the Texans looked to catch lightning in a bottle by selecting the ultra-productive former West Virginia Mountaineer running back, Steve Slaton (#89 overall). Last season, the Texans signed free agent running back Ahman Green to be their featured back, but Green struggled with various injuries as he has during his entire career. Houston saw that they needed to get younger and more talented at the position, and when Slaton was available in round three they decided to pull the trigger on the 5'9", 197 lb. speedster, who runs consistently in the 4.4's.

Tom Marino gave his take on Slaton—

A patient runner with subtle moves, who showed the ability to read blocks and react (very good feel). Quicker then fast, although has the speed to get the corner. Liked his ability to see the backside cutback. Confident receiver who can adjust catch the ball down the field. Not as elusive as expected (more of a 1 cut and go guy, but judges distances well. Production has declined over the last three seasons which is a concern, but is a steady dependable back. Rd # 3.

The Houston Texans may have uncovered a real steal in the fourth-round, as they were able to grab former Virginia Tech linebacker, Xavier Adibi (#118 overall). Adibi was slated by many as a first-day selection, and the linebacker was a very productive player as he led his Hokies in tackles. Expect Adibi to contribute right away on special teams, and he could challenge either Danny Clark or Morlon Greenwood for a starting spot. The hard hitting Hokie stands 6'2" and weighs 232 lbs., and ran his 40 as low as the 4.6's.

Here's what Tom Marino said about Adibi—

Can range to the boundary, but doesn't make enough wow plays. I liked his energy and playing character. Undersized, doesn't take on or play through the ball to the ball. Inconsistent to the key, and diagnose and locate the football (problem with miss direction and play action). Can range in pass coverage, but made few plays on the ball. In zone appeared unaware. Not enough production to consider on day one, but should get a lot of attention at the top of rd # 4.

With their fifth, sixth, and seventh-round picks, the Texans selected former University of Texas defensive tackle Frank Okam (#151 overall), former University of Minnesota safety Dominique Barber (#173 overall), and former Washington State quarterback Alex Brink (#223 overall). These late-round selections should be mostly special teams and depth type of contributors, and both Okam and Barber should have a legitimate shot of making the roster due to the lack of depth at their respective positions. Brink will more than likely have an uphill battle, as the Texans already have three experienced quarterbacks in Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels, and former Jaguars signal caller, Quinn Gray.

Here are some of Tom Marino's scouting reports on the Texans late-round selections—

Frank Okam is a big, wide body (6'5", 315 lbs.) who showed body control & quicks. Plays high, but teams still had a difficult time moving him on the inside. Is very smart (both on and off the field) and experienced, but has no heart or playing character. An underachiever in my opinion. Just not a nasty rub your face in the dirt type (no edge). Overall, you just don't know what you are going to get with this player. Wouldn't consider in day 1, but recognize his talent and physical tools. Rd 4.

Dominique Barber is a tough guy with size (6'0", 210 lbs.), but wasn't sudden in his movement, lacks long speed and did not show particularly good ball skills. Just adequate quickness and playing range. I really liked his physical toughs and competitiveness (playing character), but is in my opinion strictly a two down box safety. Will also give a club top special teams play, but is quite frankly a liability in coverage (man or zone). Has late second day (6th to 7th round) draft potential.

Whereas the Texans may have reached with their first-round selection of Duane Brown, they were able to grab seemingly good value with the rest of their picks, as well as address some major areas of need. Houston is clearly a team on the rise, and they will be a tough match-up for the Jaguars in 2008, as they have been during every year of their existence.

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