Tag:Houston Texans
Posted on: December 23, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Memphis DT Poe announces that he's heading to NFL

In the history of Memphis Tigers football there have been only two first round picks. The Carolina Panthers selected running back DeAngelo Williams 27th overall in 2006. The Kansas City Chiefs a decade earlier used the 28th overall pick on safety Jerome Woods.

Junior defensive tackle Dontari Poe is hoping to join these former Tigers as soon as possible, announcing via Twitter Friday that he is foregoing his senior season to enter the 2012 NFL draft.

Wrote Poe, under the handle @bigpoe74, "Big decision know I chose right.... NFL here I come."

The news, initially reported by John Taylor of CollegeFootballTalk.com, does not come as a surprise. Listed at 6-5, 350 pounds, Poe had emerged as one of the elite defensive line prospects in the entire country this season and was prominently featured in both my own first round projection, as well as that of NFLDraftScout.com's new analyst, Dane Brugler. Each of us, in fact, are projecting the Houston Texans to make Poe the 26th overall pick.

Despite being constantly double-teamed whether he played inside or out, Poe registered 33 tackles, including eight tackles for loss this season for the Tigers. He was voted the team's defensive MVP following the season and was known in scouting circles to be strongly considering taking advantage of the relative lack of top senior defensive tackles available this year.

With his incredible size, Poe is an obvious candidate for 3-4 teams looking for nose guards, thus Dane and I's projection with the Houston Texans. Poe, however, is remarkably light on his feet for a man of his huge size and therefore will also be strongly scouted by teams using the more traditional four man front, as well.

Poe is currently listed No. 19 on my Big Board rankings. The Second Team All-Conference USA pick is currently ranked fourth among defensive tackles graded by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 32 player, overall.


Posted on: December 1, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Rookie QB T.J. Yates could surprise with Texans

NFL teams have been impressed thus far with the development of the class of 2011's quarterbacks. Cam Newton has already emerged as one of the league's most exciting players and Andy Dalton has the Bengals in the thick of the playoff hunt. Though wins and big plays have been tougher to come by for Christian Ponder (Vikings) and Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) thus far, each have shown flashes.

The relative success of his young peers bodes well for the Houston Texans and their rookie quarterback, T.J. Yates.

Yates, graded as a sixth round pick last year by NFLDraftScout.com, was the Texans' 5th round pick (No. 152 overall).

A year earlier, the idea of Yates being drafted at all would have been considered a long shot.

As a junior Yates completed barely 60% of his passes and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns on the season (14) despite being surrounded by a lot of NFL talent, including current Cleveland Browns' rookie Greg Little and rising 2012 prospect Dwight Jones, among others.

Yates, however, showed remarkable poise a year later during the scandal that eventually led to year-long suspensions of Little, defensive tackle Marvin Austin and defensive end Robert Quinn, among others.

While everything around him was crumbling, Yates developed into a legitimate pro prospect, completing 66.% of his passes for 3,418 yards and a 19-9 touchdown to interception ratio. For his improvement, Yates was named an honorable mention All-ACC pick and helped lead the Tar Heels to a dramatic double overtime victory over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

When Yates entered last Sunday's game against the Jaguars, he did so with the same poise and leadership he'd demonstrated while at UNC. The moment wasn't too big for him -- a testament to the calm he's gained as a three-year starter while at UNC.

Certainly there are other quarterbacks with greater talent. Yates, in fact, will be playing opposite one this week in Atlanta's Matt Ryan. Like Ryan, however, Yates is more than the sum of his parts. While he doesn't have a howizter or great mobility, he's already a savvy enough player to spread the ball out to Houston's playmakers and manage a game.

For the AFC-South leading Texans, that may be all he has to do to help them reach the playoffs.


 

Posted on: May 16, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Safety

Over the last two weeks I have been highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Here are the links for the other positions:
The 2011 safety class was as poor as I've seen it in 12 years of professional scouting. Much of this has to do with the fact that the 2010 safety crop was as good as I've ever seen it -- and was highly fortified by underclassmen, leaving the cupboard very bare this year. As expected, UCLA's Rahim Moore was the first safety selected, but even he wasn't drafted until No. 45 overall -- and some view him as a possible cornerback in the NFL.

Just like there were at every position, however, there was talent to be found in 2011.
Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Quality Fits:

Chris Conte, Chicago Bears: Conte played cornerback for the first three years of his career at Cal, so when he made the switch to free safety as a senior, he flew a bit under the radar for most. However, while Moore earned most of the attention in the Pac-10, Conte was the more reliable tackler and coverage defender despite his limited experience. The Bears have experimented with undersized safeties for years under Lovie Smith, but in the 6-2, 197 pound Conte, they get a rangy centerfielder with a legitimate combination of size and speed. The learning curve will be steep considering his lack of experience at the position, but Conte will prove a starting caliber free safety early in his NFL career.

Shiloh Keo, Houston Texans: I have my reservations about how well Keo will be able to cover NFL speed, but the primary issue in the Houston secondary the past few seasons hasn't been speed -- it has been a lack of instincts and reliable open-field tackling. In these areas, Keo ranks among the elite safeties in the entire 2011 draft. Keo's initial impact will almost certainly be felt on special teams - where he could prove to be a demon. A playmaking punt returner in college, watch for Keo to make the adjustment to special teams coverage, rather than returning. One might argue that in the fifth round, the Texans should have been looking for a future starter (which I don't know that Keo will ever become), but at pick No. 144, there were few players more guaranteed to make a more immediate impact on special teams, so I see the pick as having good value.

Mark LeGree, Seattle Seahawks: LeGree, a free safety at Appalachian State, could be asked to play a hybrid safety in Pete Carroll's scheme as the Seahawks used the No. 14 overall pick last year on another free safety -- Earl Thomas -- and loved his playmaking skills as a rookie. LeGree, who intercepted 22 passes and was a three-time All-American at Appalachian State, has similar ball skills as Thomas and good speed. He could play the deep middle and free up Thomas to attack the line of scrimmage as the Steelers do with Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. Like Keo, LeGree simply offered too much value in the fifth round (No. 156 overall) to fall further.

Questionable Fit:

Chris Prosinski, Jacksonville Jaguars: It is perhaps a little unfair to characterize Prosinski as a questionable fit considering how badly the Jaguars needed help at safety and the former Wyoming standout's unique athleticism. A three-year starter for the Cowboys, it was a bit of a surprise when Prosinski wasn't invited to the Combine considering his high level of play and the relative weakness of the position. He answered all questions about his athleticism at his Pro Day when he registered a 4.39 40, 39 1/2-inch vertical, 4.28 short shuttle, and 11-foot-2-inch broad jump. That said, I do have some concerns about his ability to transition to the NFL. Jaguars' general manager Gene Smith might be the NFL's most aggressive draft-day talent evaluator. This pick might turn out well like some of his past selections, but in my conversations with other teams' scouts, this was viewed as a legitimate reach.





Posted on: May 14, 2011 4:46 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Cornerbacks

Over the last week and a half I have been highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Here are the links for the other positions:
Perhaps not surprising considering that I had LSU's Patrick Peterson as the No. 1 player in this draft, I was higher on this year's cornerback class, as a whole, than most. The three corners taken in the first round deserved to be so -- and that isn't always the case. Kareem Jackson (Texans), Kyle Wilson (Jets) and Patrick Robinson (Saints) were all selected in the first round last year and struggled as rookies. I don't believe this year's first round class will experience the same growing pains.

The 2011 corner class, however, wasn't just talented up top. There were a few middle round fits that I believe could pay off quickly, as well. A couple of other fits that I liked, but didn't make the final cut below were the Chargers plucking Shareece Wright in the third round, the Panthers, Chiefs, and Packers adding Brandon Hogan, Jalil Brown and Davon House, respectively in the fourth round.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants: The day before the draft I started hearing rumors that Amukamara could slip out of the 13. Detroit, at No. 13, had previously been the furthest most thought the All-American would slide. I didn't understand it. I remain an Amukamara fan and love the fit in New York. His length, strength and speed will serve him well and he'll have the advantage of playing behind a disruptive pass rush. One of the reasons for Amukamara slipping, I've been told, is that as scouts watched more tape, they saw returning senior Alfonzo Dennard making just as many impressive plays as Amukamara.

Rashad Carmichael, Houston Texans: I could have just as easily listed the Texans' second pick -- former Miami cornerback Brandon Harris -- in this space, as I like both selections. Like Harris, Carmichael is a good -- but not elite -- athlete who projected nicely as a zone cornerback due to his instincts and tackling. Houston, you had a problem. In drafting Harris and Carmichael (and hiring Wade Philllips as defensive coordinator), the problem is being fixed. 

Chris Culliver, San Francisco 49ers: Having evolved from wide receiver to free safety to cornerback throughout his career, Culliver enters the NFL still learning the intricacies of the position. He is an impressive athlete who had been enjoying a solid first starting season at cornerback after having earned Second Team All-SEC honors (behind Eric Berry) in 2009. A torn pectoral ended his senior season after only eight games, however. Culliver also is a standout special teamer (South Carolina record 2,464 career kick return yards). I projected the 49ers taking a cornerback in the first round in my 2012 early mock. Culliver is a little raw, but he is an ascending talent who could allow the team to look elsewhere.

Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals:
The fact is, Peterson was my top-rated player in the 2011 draft, so the fact that he "fell" to the Cardinals at No. 5 already makes him a rare value. Value doesn't necessarily equate to schematic fit in some cases, but it does in this one. The Cardinals ask their cornerbacks to play a lot of press man coverage, which is Peterson's strength. With another premier talent opposite him in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a starting-caliber corner in Greg Toler slipping inside to nickel, the Cardinals' secondary is formidable. Against the relatively weak passing games in the NFC West, Peterson is all the more likely to impress early.

Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens: Say what you will about Smith's off-field issues, the man can flat play some football. Smith's length, physicality and speed make him an ideal press corner. Smith also gets the advantage of going to a very good defense. He turned some off when boastfully praising his own ball skills to that of Nnamdi Asomugha. With this defense forcing wild throws, Smith might very well get the opportunity to prove his playmaking ability.


Questionable Fit:

Demarcus Van Dyke, Oakland Raiders: In all honesty, it isn't fair to characterize Van Dyke as a poor schematic fit, as he certainly possesses the size (6-1, 176) and straight-line speed (4.25) that Al Davis has always placed a premium on at cornerback. "DVD" as he was called at Miami, obviously has a unique combination of size and speed, but he rarely demonstrated the physicality, toughness and technique while with the Hurricanes to stand out. As such, I and scouts I've spoken with, thought that Van Dyke was a significant reach at No. 81. Quite frankly, I believe that the Raiders will ultimately be more pleased with the play of 4th round pick, Chimdi Chekwa (No. 113 overall), than they will with Van Dyke, taken in the third. At that point in the draft, I belive the stakes were too high to make this gamble.

Posted on: February 7, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Prince Amukamara plans to do all Combine workouts

Like his former Nebraska teammate Ndamukong Suh, Prince Amukamara is not going to rest on his laurels at the Combine. He plans to participate fully, according to source close to him.

The 6-0, 205 pound Amukamara turned down an opportunity to partipate in the Senior Bowl, but his level of play wasn't questioned. The All-American provided lock-down coverage and physical run support in 2010. Like Suh, Amukamara entered the  year as the top-rated senior prospect by several scouting organizations, including National Football Scouting which helps NFL teams coordinate the annual Combine and NFLDraftScout.com.

Despite his reputation, Amukamara has a lot riding on his workout. Questions about his true speed have been rampant ever since Oklahoma State redshirt sophomore Justin Blackmon beat him for five catches, 157 yards and two touchdowns in a showdown between the two stars October 23. See the video here.

Getting beaten by Blackmon, who won the Biletnikof Award as a redshirt sophomore, is hardly a reason for shame. Amukamara had provided his typically stellar coverage for most of the game, but was beaten for an 80-yard score in the second quarter when Blackmon fooled him with a slow release, before bursting upfield. Earlier in the game Blackmon had beaten Amukamara downfield on a go-route, forcing a pass interference penalty from the Nebraska cornerback. With college rules, the penalty gave the Cowboys 15 yards. In the NFL, of course, the penalty would have been for the yardage lost by the interference -- a difference of 35-40 yards.

Blackmon is a savvy route-runner with deceptive speed, but isn't expected to run in the 4.4s. The fact that he was able to get deep on Amukamara consistently is a concern. The two other big corners expected to be first round picks -- Peterson and Colorado's Jimmy Smith -- did not have a game this season in which they struggled as much as Amukamara did against Blackmon, making their respective speed in workouts potentially less important to their final stock.

With a strong showing in Indianapolis, Amukamara could all but lock up a spot in the top ten and perhaps even the top five. Some teams, in fact, like Amukamara more than Peterson. A poor showing, however, and he could slip behind Peterson and Smith and into the mid teens. I currently have Amukamara pegged to go to the Houston Texans with the 11th pick of the draft.

After scouts had questioned his competitiveness with the decision to not play in the Senior Bowl, they'll be pleased by his decision to participate fully at the Combine.

For the very best in NFL Draft content, be sure to keep the page refreshed at NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: January 8, 2011 4:49 pm
 

East-West Shrine Game posts roster

The East-West Shrine Game, the longest running senior all-star game in the country, has released their 2011 roster.

I've copied their roster below, but encourage you to check out their website and support the Shriners' cause, as well.

Dan Reeves will coach one team. Wade Phillips was slated to coach the other team, though it remains to be seen if he'll keep this position now that he's been hired as Houston's defensive coordinator.

It is an interesting roster, filled with NFL talent. I'm especially excited to see quarterbacks Pat Devlin (Delaware) and Nathan Enderle (Idaho) - two of the more underrated QBs in the 2011 draft -- get their opportunity with better talent surrounding them.

There is other exciting skill position talent in the game, as well, including Syracuse RB Delone Carter, Penn State RB Evan Royster and LSU WR Terrance Toliver.

North Carolina suspended defensive tackle Marvin Austin is another intriguing prospect to watch. In terms of pure talent, he is the elite prospect in this draft.

The 2011 roster features another rarity. Fresno State DE/OLB Chris Carter and UCLA DT David Carter are brothers.

The rosters are listed with the East Team first, West Team following.

Name Pos. College
Kyle Adams TE Purdue
Pierre Allen DE Nebraska
Marvin Austin DT North Carolina
JC Brignone C Mississippi State
Bryant Browning OG Ohio State
Delone Carter RB Syracuse
Akem Dent ILB Georgia
Patrick Devlin QB Delaware
Ricky Dobbs QB Navy
Ryan Donahue P Iowa
Charles Gantt TE Michigan State
Eric Gordon SS Michigan State
Christian Hairston OT Clemson
Jermale Hines SS Ohio State
Douglas Hogue OLB Syracuse
Randall Hunt OG Illinois
Zachary Hurd OG Connecticut
Brian Lainhart FS Kent State
Gregory Lyoyd II ILB Connecticut
Cliff Matthews DE South Carolina
Terrell McClain DT USF
Josh McNary OLB Army
Bruce Miller DE UCF
Jonas Mouton OLB Michigan
Martin Parker DT Richmond
Jah Reid OT UCF
Evan Royster RB Penn State
David Sims SS Iowa State
Greg Smith TE Texas
Tyrod Taylor QB Virginia Tech
Terrence Toliver WR LSU
Terrence Turner WR Indiana
Demarcus Van Dyke CB Miami
Lawrence Wilson ILB Connecticut

Name

Pos.

College
David Arkin OG Missouri State
Brandon Bair DT Oregon
Jordan Cameron TE USC
David Carter DT UCLA
Chris Carter OLB Fresno State
Chris Conte FS California
Ricky Elmore DE Arizona
Nathan Enderle QB Idaho
Adam Grant OT Arizona
Alex Green RB Hawaii
Virgil Green II TE Nevada
Trevor Hankins P Arizona State
Andrew Jackson OG Fresno State
Ben Jacobs ILB Fresno State
Jeron Johnson SS Boise State
Jerrod Johnson QB Texas A&M
Shiloh Keo SS Idaho
Karl Klug DE Iowa
Orie Lemon ILB Oklahoma State
Alex Linnenkohl C Oregon State
Dontay Moch OLB Nevada
Michael Mohamed ILB California
Jonathan Nelson SS Oklahoma
Caleb Schlauderaff OG Utah
Justin Taplin-Ross SS Utah
Vai Taua RB Nevada
Julius Thomas TE Portland State
Brandyn Thompson CB Boise State
Scott Tolzien QB Wisconsin
Winston Venable OLB Boise State
Ryan Whalen WR Stanford
Nate Williams SS Washington
Zachary Williams OG Washington State
Ryan Winterswke DE Boise State


Posted on: December 3, 2010 12:55 pm
 

Elmore stars for Arizona in tough loss

With many sports fans tuning into LeBron's return to Cleveland or the Eagles-Texans game, an impressive showing by Arizona Wildcats' senior defensive end Ricky Elmore won't get the national attention it deserves.

While the Wildcats suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to their state rival ASU Sun Devils, Elmore, playing in his final home, posted eight tackles (including six solos) and three sacks.

The Wildcats' duo of Elmore and fellow senior Brooks Reed put constant pressure on Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler, who was forced to vacate the pocket and demonstrated much better running skills than one might anticipate given his 6-8, 242 pound frame.

Elmore hasn't generated a great deal of national attention throughout his career despite the fact that he's led the Pac-10 in sacks each of the past two seasons. Last season, Elmore racked up 9.5 sacks. With his three sacks against the Sun Devils, Elmore now has 11 this year with a bowl game still to go.

Elmore, 6-5 and 260 pounds, reminds me in some ways of former Washington Husky defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Like Te'o-Nesheim, Elmore has been productive throughout his career and achieves many of his sacks based on a relentless motor and good technique rather than an elite first step.

He is quick enough off the snap, however, to generate consistent pressure. If he's able to impress in post-season all-star games and/or workouts as Te'o-Nesheim did last year, Elmore could see a similar late rise up draft boards.

Te'o-Nesheim was drafted in the third round (No. 86th overall) last April by the Eagles.


Posted on: September 16, 2010 10:09 pm
 

Surprised by Arian Foster's success? I'm not...

By now, everyone with a fantasy football team knows the name of Houston Texan running back Arian Foster.

Tennessee Volunteer (and other SEC) fans knew his name long before his staggering 231 yard, 3 touchdown performance against the Colts in Week One -- second behind only O.J. Simpson (250 yards in 1973) in the history of the NFL for a season-opening performance. 

After all, for all of the talk of Foster onto the scene for the Texans, he was hardly an unknown coming from out of Tennessee. Foster left the Vols second on their career rushing list with 2,964 yards -- more than Jamal Lewis, Charlie Garner, Cedric Houston and Montario Hardesty. Only Travis Henry, with 3,078 yards, was more successful over his career than Foster.

I -- and more importantly NFL scouts were quite high on Foster early in his career. In fact, he was given a second round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee following his junior season.

Entering the 2009 season, in fact, I characterized him among the elite prospects in the SEC and wrote:

"A standout as a freshman, Foster rebounded from a disappointing sophomore year to enjoy his greatest success to date last season, earning Second Team SEC honors with 1,193 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Only 684 yards behind Travis Henry to be Tennessee's career rushing leader, Foster briefly considered leaving early for the NFL and was given a second-round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee. A strong senior campaign could push Foster to the top of the senior running back class."

Rather than enjoy a "strong senior campaign," however, Foster struggled mightily, fumbling often and losing carries to Hardesty (among others).

Foster initially intrigued me as a strong one-cut runner. Though his stock took a major tumble in 2009, I was nonetheless surprised to see him slip all the way out of the draft. Considering Houston's zone-blocking scheme, Foster was an ideal fit.

I recommended him as a potential late round pick for the Seattle Seahawks -- another team that features a zone-blocking scheme up front.

It will be interesting to see if the struggles with ball security that plagued Foster's late career at Tennessee will again show up with the Texans. Though I believe Foster is very much a starting caliber running back in the NFL in a zone-blocking scheme, don't be surprised if he's never able to match his spectacular Week One performance.

There will be few defenses he'll face this season smaller up front than the Colts. Certainly the Washington Redskins -- Houston's opponent Sunday -- should provide a significantly tougher matchups than the Colts were last weekend.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com