• Houston Texans NFL Draft analysis: Was WR DeAndre Hopkins the right pick at No. 27?

    First Round: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

    In last week’s blog I made a case for Terrance Williams as a better candidate for the wide receiver role in Houston than Hopkins. It was a minority opinion, but I still stand by it. However, that does not mean Hopkins was a bad selection. Hopkins was a great selection.

    The Texans needed a wide receiver to fill the role left open by the release of Kevin Walter, and DeAndre Hopkins should be able to exceed it. As one of the most dynamic receivers from the ACC, Hopkins will be expected to become the complimentary threat to Andre Johnson that Lestar Jean and DeVier Posey have so far failed to become.

    If Hopkins can fulfill those expectations, the Houston Texans will have their most effective wide receiver core in their short history. Keshawn Martin would be dedicated primarily as a third/slot receiver; and if Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels can remain healthy, Matt Schaub will have plenty of options.

    Second Round: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

    It would have been a wasted opportunity if Houston did not draft a safety to back up Ed Reed. Not only did they need depth at the position, but a team does not always have a future hall of famer on their roster to mentor those at his position. Houston took the opportunity by drafting Swearinger.

    I don’t know what it is about Houston and drafting defensive backs from South Carolina (Dunta Robinson, Fred Bennett), but it has worked out so far. With two interceptions in the 2012 season, including a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown against Arkansas, Swearinger has playmaking ability. Known for his physical play, that should help him translate into Wade Phillips’ man coverage defensive schemes.

    Swearinger probably won’t show up on the starting depth chart for a few seasons, but he could become an impactful nickelback in the meantime.

    Third Round: Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina / Sam Montgomery, OLB, LSU

    The Texans offensive line was both outstanding and struggling. The whole left side of the line was elected to the Pro Bowl. The right side struggled for consistency with the injury of right tackle Derek Newton and the shuffle at right guard between Ben Jones and Antoine Caldwell.

    Brennan Williams will be expected to strengthen that right side, providing Schaub more consistent protection and less reliance to run to the left side of the ball.

    With the injury to Brian Cushing last season, the Texans found they needed some depth. By selecting Montgomery (and even Trevardo Williams in the fourth round) the Texans now have an option of moving Brooks Reed to the inside. Montgomery will have a similar role to Whitney Mercilus’ last season. But in the future, if Montgomery can fulfill expectations, he will be able to take over Reed’s position and allow the move.

    Fourth-Sixth Rounds: Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn / David Quessenberry, OT, San Jose State / Alan Bonner, WR, Jax State / Christopher Jones, DT, Bowling Green / Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn

    Trough the rest of the draft, the Texans reiterated their needs at wide receiver, offensive line and outside linebacker. But with the selection of Christopher Jones, Houston also gave some support to the nose tackle position.

    Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell have played adequate roles in the line’s center. NFL teams do not strive for adequacy. Since it was not a large issue, a nose tackle was not selected in the earlier rounds. As MAC Defensive Player of the Year with 12.5 sacks last season, Jones just may be a steal for the Texans.

  • Longhorns sign guard Martez Walker, giving them four Class of 2013 signees

    The Longhorns signed Pershing (Detroit, Mich.) guard Martez Walker to a letter of intent, Texas announced Thursday.

    Walker, a three-star prospect, according to rivals.com becomes the fourth player to sign with the Longhorns this year, joining fellow guards Demarcus Croaker, Isaiah Taylor and Kendal Yancy. Walker averaged 20.4 points and seven rebounds per game as a senior last season, earning a spot on the Detroit Free Press Class A All-State First Team. Pershing went 46-4 over the past two seasons, including a 22-0 record in conference play and a 25-1 mark last year, when Walker led the Doughboys to the Michigan Class A state quarterfinals.

    "Martez is an unorthodox player who has a knack for scoring," head coach Rick Barnes said. "The thing that gives him a chance to be really good at our level is his competitive nature. Like most young guys, he'll have to get stronger. When he does, his ability to score the basketball along with his mental toughness and passion to compete will allow him to be very successful."

    Three of Texas' five sophomores from last season have since left the program, with Myck Kabongo declaring for the NBA Draft and Sheldon McClellan and Jaylen Bond electing to transfer. Jonathan Holmes and Julien Lewis, who also contemplated transferring, are the only two rising juniors on the Longhorns' roster, which included six freshmen on scholarship last season. Texas will be a young team again next season and may need some of its four freshmen (Walker, Croaker, Taylor and Yancy) to contribute immediately.

    "When you take a look at this four-player class as a whole, we obviously made a concerted effort to improve our skill and athleticism on the perimeter," Barnes said. "We also believe we've added some natural scoring ability to our team. Our staff is excited to begin working with these four young men on campus this summer and see them mesh with our returning players, who have really worked hard and improved this spring."