Houston Texans Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 27, 2013

Solid Starter

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson – Round 1
WalterFootball.com noted prior to the 2013 NFL Draft that the Texans loved Hopkins and he would be their pick if he was on the board. Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter was the fallback option, but Hopkins fell lower than expected and Houston was able to get its man. It sounded instantly like head coach Gary Kubiak has pegged Hopkins as the starter opposite of Andre Johnson.

Reports out of the Texans’ rookie mini-camp were that Hopkins was as smooth and polished as expected. He showed some superb hands with a number of difficult one-handed catches. While Hopkins isn’t a downfield burner, he has good football speed and quickness to get open.

I don’t think Hopkins will become a true No. 1 receiver and won’t be the long-term replacement for Johnson. However, Hopkins looks like he could be an excellent No. 2 receiver and could be one of the top secondary receivers in the NFL. The Texans were in desperate need for a receiver to play off of Johnson, and Hopkins could be a perfect fit.

Hopkins looks like he is going to be a good pro receiver and a solid starter for the long term.

Most Likely To Bust

Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU – Round 3
The Texans gambled that they can get Montgomery to reach his potential. There is no doubt that he has a good skill set. The rookie has the size, strength and quickness to be a good pro pass-rusher. However, Montgomery has a suspect motor and he admitted as much prior to the 2013 NFL Draft. Montgomery went all out against good teams like Alabama, but he took his foot off the pedal when taking on lesser opponents.

The Texans taking on lesser opponents in the NFL are few and far between. Sure, Houston gets two easy contests against the Jaguars twice a season, but Jacksonville could turn it around like any other team in the age of salary-cap parity. Montgomery won’t last long in the NFL if he gives suspect effort. Coaches have zero patience for that and a third-round pick isn’t enough of an investment to buy him a lot of patience.

Houston’s coaching staff feels it can get Montgomery to play up to his ability. That is an optimistic view and if the coaches aren’t correct, Montgomery could be a bust in short order.

Potential Boom Pick

D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina – Round 2
This was a tough call because I think third-round offensive tackle Brennan Williams could be a steal. He may need a year to develop, but Williams could form a dynamite right side of the offensive line with Brandon Brooks. Those are two big, strong linemen with freaky speed and agility. However, the talk of the Texans’ rookie mini-camp was Swearinger.

Houston was fortunate to land Swearinger in the second round. Many believed that he wasn’t going to be there for the organization’s pick. WalterFootball.com knows sources with other teams ahead of the Texans that loved Swearinger and almost pulled the trigger on him in Round 2.

The talented safety is a perfect scheme fit for Wade Philips’ defense. Swearinger played some cornerback for South Carolina last year, and Philips likes to have a safety who can play some man. That role had been occupied by Glover Quin, but he signed with Detroit in free agency. Future Hall of Famer Ed Reed was brought in to replace Quin, but Swearinger could prove Reed to be unnecessary after one season.

Swearinger was not only versatile and athletic for South Carolina; he was a chippy defender who never hesitated to get physical. Swearinger will pop receivers, running backs and any offensive player who gets in his way. I think he is going to be a real presence in the back end for Houston in a couple of years. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Swearinger turns into a Pro Bowl caliber safety.

Future Depth Player

David Quessenberry, OL, San Jose State – Round 6
The Texans landed a steal late in the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft with Quessenberry. The 6-foot-5, 302-pounder can play any position on the offensive line. His best fit would be as an interior offensive linemen.

Quessenberry will be a valuable backup on game days. Teams can only dress seven or eight offensive linemen, so they need to have backups who are capable of playing multiple positions. Quessenberry’s flexibility could give the Texans’ coaching staff some nice flexibility to dress a player at a different position because he can fill so many roles.

Houston doesn’t need Quessenberry to develop into a starter. The team has Pro Bowl caliber blockers in left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Wade Smith and center Chris Myers. Brandon Brooks and Brennan Williams should form the right side of the offensive line for years to come. However, injuries are always a part of every season and teams need starting caliber backups on the offensive line. Quessenberry could fill that void and prove to be a real advantage on the Texans’ bench.

Walt’s 2013 NFL Draft Grades:

27. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson: A Grade
Charlie and I were told the Texans would draft Justin Hunter – but only if DeAndre Hopkins was off the board. Hopkins was discussed to be a candidate for No. 14 overall to the Panthers, so we figured that he wouldn’t be available. Well, the Texans lucked out and got their man. Hopkins is a sound, pro-ready receiver who should be able to step in immediately as the starter across from Andre Johnson.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

57. D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina: B+ Grade
The Texans wanted a safety who can play both the free and strong positions, and D.J. Swearinger definitely qualifies for that. He’ll fill a big need vacated by Glover Quin’s departure to Detroit. Swearinger was seen as a late-second-round prospect, so this is the right range for him.

89. Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina: B- Grade
Brennan Williams has tons of potential, but has never lived up to it. This is a high-upside pick though and it helps fill a need for the Texans, who are terribly thin at offensive tackle.

95. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU: C- Grade
I have to say that I’m very surprised by this pick. The Texans are a team that is very high on character, so I’m not sure what they see in Sam Montgomery to make them change their mind. Sure, Montgomery is talented, but he flat-out quit for LSU this past season. He’s not a guy you want to have on your team.

124. Trevardo Williams, DE/OLB, Connecticut: B+ Grade
The Texans lost Connor Barwin in free agency, so they had to replenish depth at the rush linebacker position. Trevardo Williams could have gone a bit earlier than this, so I like the value.

176. David Quessenberry, OT/G/C, San Jose State: A Grade
It’s shocking to me that such a versatile offensive lineman fell this far. I thought David Quessenberry would be a Round 3-4 selection for sure. He can play anywhere up front.

195. Alan Bonner, WR, Jacksonville State: B Grade
It’s no surprise that the Texans selected a second wideout considering their glaring need at the position. Alan Bonner was seen as a Round 6-7 prospect, so he makes sense here.

198. Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green: C+ Grade
This is a slight reach for the Texans, but Chris Jones makes sense as the sort of undersized nose tackle whom Wade Phillips likes to have on his defense.

201. Ryan Griffin, TE, Connecticut: B- Grade
We were told that the Texans wanted to find some help at tight end after losing James Casey to the Eagles, so it’s surprising that they waited this long. Ryan Griffin was considered a seventh-round prospect, so this is pretty much the right range for him.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: A . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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