It is time for the NFL Combine to take shape and for NFL teams to find future contributors for their franchises. What are the Texans trying to accomplish at the NFL Combine to ensure they are ready for the pro days leading up to the draft?
The Texans will have baseline meetings with all NFL draft prospects - mainly background checks to have information on them, just in case.
The Texans will get up to 60 formal interviews that are 15-minutes in length and can have informal interviews with as many players as they wish. That number could easily reach up to over 100 players that the team will come in contact with and most will never dress in a Texans uniform.
What are these baseline meetings about? Personal information, contact information, and background checks to start building even more in-depth profiles on draft prospects for the now as well as for further down the line when they have a chance to possibly sign them at a later date.
For example, two current Texans players Akeem Hunt and Robert Nelson were poked and prodded by the organization and the team showed high levels of interest in both players. The Texans initially passed on them and both went different routes with other franchises before getting phone calls that the Texans wanted to sign them almost a full year into their respective careers. The ground work for signings down the road also start at the NFL Combine.
The Texans scouting staff is part of what is called “The National” that includes 17 other organizations besides the Texans since 2015. The Texans, at one point, were part of BLESTO but it appears they have changed alliances over the recent years. Dues range over $100k per season and it is a joint effort to scout as many players as they can. The scouting organizations help grade players and start a foundation on initial rankings for prospects, then teams can put their own “in-house” evaluations along with that information and adjust their boards accordingly. This organizational scouting goes beyond the NFL Combine and extends from freshmen in college all the way through their pro days prior to the draft before being drafted by their respective teams. Either way, this service that the Texans use is for the foundation of players and not used as the end all be all when it comes to prospects. The Texans build off these initial reports to develop their own scouting reports and build their draft boards.
Keep an eye on who the Texans formally meet with as that news will leak out during the week. Those reports have some bearing on which position groups the team is monitoring as the combine week carries on.
The NFL Draft Order has Been Set
Official draft order set by NFL for the Texans:
6-188 (from Chicago for trading them tight end Khari Lee)
Texans Decision Makers to Meet with the Media
Every year, the NFL requires both general manager and head coach to address the media and discuss their organizations. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien will meet with the media on Wednesday (March 1) at 3:30 pm, while GM Rick Smith will meet with media on Thursday (March 2) at 11 am.
A word of caution, both O’Brien and Smith will have 15 minute press conferences and there will be not much coming from these discussions. Expect normal run-of-the-mill answers with no hint of any direction the team is headed in either free agency or the NFL Draft.
Find the Direction of Current Free Agents
Rick Smith and his group will start meeting with free agents from their current teams and will focus particularly A.J. Bouye’s camp to start figuring out what exactly is needed to bring back their rising cornerback. The Texans will determine what Bouye wants and, more importantly, Bouye’s agent can get a feel for what is coming in the direction of his client.
There will be a good feel for Bouye’s future with the Texans this upcoming weekend at the combine. The Texans free agent group does not officially hit the market until March 9th but do not count out anything with the team’s own free agents until that clock strikes midnight and players get on planes to their new teams.
What is a little bit different this season than most, teams and agents will meet just a few days prior to the opening of the legal tampering period which starts March 7th. Call it a jump start on finding out which players could potentially find a new home with so much information trading hands and various discussions taking place.
It will be hard to curtail much of the talk in Indianapolis but it will be the soft opening of the 2017 NFL season with little time before the legal tampering window opening.
What Will the Texans Find at the Combine
This NFL Draft, to many analysts, is littered with defensive talent, especially at cornerback and edge rusher positions. Some feel that the cornerback group is so deep in talent that solid players could be selected all the way into the 3rd round, while 8-9 edge pass rushers could be selected in the 1st day, making it a bountiful crop of prospects.
There are some questions regarding the talent at offensive tackle and quarterback positions, both of which have been oft labeled as the two weakest position groups of the draft class. The top offensive tackle in this year’s draft, Ryan Ramczyk, would not have even been in the top three of the 2016 offensive tackle class. Also, the quarterback group has many questions surrounding it and none are ready for day one action in the NFL.
This is the year the Texans could be in the market for a young tight end with Ryan Griffin close to hitting free agency and with talent in the group reaching into the 3rd round. The Texans have already started taking a closer look at the tight end group during the Senior Bowl week and expect that to continue heading into the combine and pro days.
What are the Texans priorities at the NFL Combine? Continue to interview any quarterback who is available, vet the safety and offensive tackle positions, and assess the cornerback position group which appears to be an area of needing an infusion of youth due to many issues: the possibility to A.J. Bouye bolting, Kevin Johnson’s foot issues the past two seasons, Johnathan Joseph’s age, and a possible position change for Kareem Jackson.
This Time a Year Ago
The direction of the Texans at this point in 2016 was in the incubation stages of what would be an aggressive off-season which saw the Texans cut big checks for Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, and Jeff Allen, moves which were out of the norm for the organization. The Texans played the first two off-seasons in the O’Brien era as short deals to help fill holes while continuing to add in the draft.
The team swung big and initially looked solid with the addition of rookies Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, and Tyler Ervin, which would lead to a totally revamped offense heading into the 2016 season. The lesson was learned, once again, that big changes take time to develop and that flipping the entire offense does not mean early returns in year one.
With the Texans sitting at #25 overall, the team has an open door to multiple possibilities to which they can turn in the draft. Either way, the off-season moves and draft picks from the past season should remind many that early success from day one is rare and it takes time to see how draft classes pan out.
Remember when everyone wanted to run Jadeveon Clowney out of town?
Related Articles: A.J. Bouye Remains Wanting to Stay with the Texans | Texans Announce Their Coaching Changes for the 2017 Season | J.J. Watt Has a New Fire In Him | Top 5 Takeaways from Bob McNair's Press Conference at the Super Bowl | Texans Eye the Draft for Quarterback Help | DeAndre Hopkins Would Welcome Adrian Peterson to Houston | Nick Martin Focuses on Getting Ready for OTAs | Jadeveon Clowney Wants More in 2017 | Rick Smith Holds Court on the Texans Current Situation | Patriots Tried to Trade Jamie Collins to the Texans | DJ used Houston Inspired Music for Super Bowl Pregame | Texans Should Stay Away from a Tony Romo Trade | Texans Need To Extend Two Current Veterans | The Texans Intrigue Tony Romo | Do the Contract Numbers Work for Tony Romo? | The Silver Lining With Brock Osweiler's Contract | Draft Talk: Texans Can Locate the Pass Rushers