Matt will be reviewing each team's pre-draft analysis by talking about the draft range of targeted players.
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Houston Texans (Last Year: 8-8)
The Texans are a fringe playoff team next year. You can't count them in, but I don't think you can count them out with talent such as Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, DeMeco Ryans, Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye.
I thought Mario Williams was an amazing draft pick (not a year later - on Draft Day). Amobi Okoye provided great value at No. 10 last year, but someone needs to get Schuab some help. Andre Johnson can't do it all by himself. I'm all for defense winning championships, but that doesn't mean you have to go there in the first round of every draft.
Right to the Texans' range with the No. 18 pick:
After doing some late-night film study of Oregon vs. Arizona State, I don't see the cutting ability or vision necessary for the zone-blocking system. You also need a burst of acceleration, which Stewart doesn't have. He could be Shaun Alexander, but I also get a sense that there might be a bit of Cedric Benson in there as well. Texans will not draft Stewart.
No mention of Rashard Mendenhall because Denver, Chicago, Detriot, Arizona, and potentially Carolina all could use a running back. He's not going to be on the board at No. 18.
Chris Williams/Ryan Clady:
Because Denver and Chicago have so many needs, they could pass up on both these guys, in which case the Texans could make a big upgrade at left tackle (in a tackle class with not much depth; they don't pick again until the third round, remember). Williams and Clady have the agility and acceleration to fit the zone-blocking scheme.
ZBS teams don't typically draft offensive linemen early, but this year (when the depth is weak for tackles) they might.
Limas Sweed /James Hardy:
Take your favorite wideout of these four and get the quarterback some help. I know Kevin Walter looked good last year, but I think he is more of a No. 3 than a No. 2. Get the double teams off Andre Johnson and the points will start rolling.
Why no DeSean Jackson or Devin Thomas? Andre Davis was re-signed, and he is a solid deep threat and a great return specialist. The Texans should consider a possession receiver in the first round.
Houston doesn't pick again until No. 79, where a lot of tempting running backs could be on the board to fill a huge need. I think it is unrealistic to expect Jamaal Charles to still be on the board, and I think the Texans could wait another round or two before addressing running back. Steve Slaton, Allen Patrick, and Justin Forsett are in their Round 4-5 range. Dantrell Savage and Rafael Little (the best hands at the RB position in the draft) are going to be on the board very late in Day 2. Houston might look to get a sleeper in the seventh round for depth.
There isn't much at left defensive end, and I believe it will be addressed in the mid rounds as well. Jeremey Thompson, Chris Ellis and Jason Jones would be taken into account in Rounds 4 and 5. The sleeper of this defensive end class could be Brian Johnston from Gardner-Webb. He is 6-5, 275, and runs a mid 4.6 40.
Interior offensive line depth is a big need. Jeremy Zuttah would be a steal for a zone-blocking scheme team like the Texans in the third round. Sam Baker's 5.50 40 time at the USC Pro Day pushed his stock down into mid-third round draft range. Oniel Cousins is a versatile player that displays a lot of physical ability, but needs to polish his technique. Drew Radovich, Eric Young, and Donald Thomas would be solid additions in the fifth round. A player who is extremely athletic, but doesn't get much publicity is Eric Scott, a center from Kentucky. A former tight end, he is 6-3, 305, and runs a sub 4.95 40. He is a prototypical ZBS center. Look for him in the seventh round.
If they are interested in finding the next Tanard Jackson, then Terrell Thomas could be him. Like Jackson, he is physical and has good instincts, but below average timed speed. I think Thomas could learn strong or free safety. He's just the player in this draft (like Jackson), that I think everyone is overlooking in the shadow of the first-round cornerback class.
With the health of Dunta Robinson in question, the Texans could be looking corner early on, but not in the first round because I feel like they need to invest more into the offense. I think they will be looking at athletic cover corners such as Tracy Porter, Justin King, Charles Godfrey, Patrick Lee, Antwaun Molden, and Tyvon Branch fit their defense in the third round.
Arizona Cardinals 2008 Offseason Needs
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