Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Quarterback
The Texans traded Matt Schaub to Oakland, while Case Keenum has a long way to go just to be a serviceable NFL backup. The organization soured on third-stringer T.J. Yates under ex-coach Gary Kubiak. Popgun-armed journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick currently sits atop the depth chart. New coach Bill O'Brien prefers his passers to have strong arms and prototypical size. They also must be able to function in spread offenses.
First day option: Blake Bortles, UCF - The dots have been connected with Bortles, thanks to O’Brien’s and George O’Leary’s history and that the Texans hired a position coach who worked with Bortles during his redshirt season. I truly think Bortles fulfills the NFL’s fantasy of a poster QB. Size, frame, smile, demeanor. There are flashes of Luck and Roethlisberger to his pocket movement, but the problem is the lack of sustained success on second and third reads. Lower body mechanics and a dip in velocity need fixing. If the Texans do not take Bortles, I have no idea where he will be selected. With that said, I expect them to pass on the UCF passer.
Second day possibility: AJ McCarron, Alabama - We have discussed how teams will attempt to mimic the Seahawks defensively, but what if they attempt to simplify the team’s offensive success and attempt to do the same? As in: a strong defense, a power running game, and a quarterback who minimizes turnovers to prevent short fields? Teams could view McCarron as this option. He is limited vertically and can get a bit chaotic if pressured early in games. His accuracy in the intermediate game is not great, but we know he works within a game plan, within his limitations, and is used to play action off of a successful running game.
Third day flier: David Fales, San Jose State - I actually prefer Fales to McCarron, but I understand the latter will be selected earlier. I trust Fales’ willingness to take risks. Fire into single coverage when his receiver has an advantage of some type. He also displays strong pocket movement and will work through reads. We could look back on his name and be surprised he was selected on the third day.
Video: Norris on Houston's top need
No. 2 Team Need: Outside Linebacker
New DC Romeo Crennel's two-gap 3-4 relies on its linebackers to get pressure as opposed to down linemen. We may see J.J. Watt do more block occupying as opposed to gap shooting under Crennel. Either way, the Texans badly need an explosive edge presence. 2012 first-round pick Whitney Mercilus has been a disappointment, while Brooks Reed would be best suited inside next to injury-riddled Brian Cushing. This team needs a franchise pass rusher.
First day option: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina - I am 95 percent sure Clowney will be the pick at No. 1. With the talent at the top, especially a rare one in this case, teams will not “talk themselves into” selecting a quarterback. Clowney converts speed to power better than anyone I have ever seen. His technique is still progressing, but he and JJ Watt will both win with inside swim moves as well as powerful hand use. Some will wonder how Clowney could transition into an odd man front. I know Crennel has been a traditional thinker in the past, but it is not difficult. Don’t drop him more than 10 percent of the game, leave it for certain situations. Allow him to be a glorified fourth defensive lineman. Let him attack the backfield. Disruption is production, and Clowney offers that.
Second day possibility: Marcus Smith, Louisville - It is a buzzword, but Smith also converts speed to power well. He lacks bend and was unblocked fairly often. However, Smith wants to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. His first step and first punch display that. He is a strong run defender and is a better football player than athlete.
Third day flier: Larry Webster, Bloomsburg - A true “flier,” Webster is all athlete after converting from basketball during the later portions of his career. In fact, some teams are looking at Webster as a tight end. He is not fluid or comfortable in his movements, but Webster does not mind getting physical at the point of attack, can close, and will finish.
No. 3 Team Need: Nose Tackle
The Texans have a lot more needs than it might seem. They could also use a No. 2 tailback, a left guard, right tackle competition for Derek Newton, and young secondary talent. Nose tackle is most pressing, as the only one on GM Rick Smith's current roster is Chiefs castoff Jerrell Powe. Crennel has long employed bulky nose tackles, from Orpheus Roye in Cleveland to Ron Edwards in Kansas City, and Powe and Dontari Poe in Crennel's final year with the Chiefs.
First day option: A nose tackle will not be selected by the Texans in the first-round.
Second day possibility: Timmy Jernigan, FSU - Jernigan is best as a zero and one-technique. I know he has been projected as a three-technique, but that is wrong. Jernigan has a natural anchor and can play in the opponents' backfield when winning off the snap. He played in a frog stance, which will almost certainly change, and he worked around blockers when pass rushing rather than through them. However, he would be more successful doing the latter. His upfield lateral skills are nothing to write home about.
Third day flier: Khyri Thornton, Southern Miss - I don’t think anyone else is saying this, but Thornton’s flashes are on par with Jernigan’s. His first punch and urge to play in the opponent’s backfield stood out to me. Yes, he absolutely lacks backfield vision, which takes him out of plays, and he can struggle to shed to make plays at the line of scrimmage. However, Thornton is a very, very explosive interior defensive lineman.
Texans 2014 Draft Picks (11)
First Round (No. 1)
Second Round (No. 33)
Third Round (No. 65)
Fourth Round (No. 101)
Fourth Round (No. 135)
Fifth Round (No. 141)
Sixth Round (No. 177)
Sixth Round (No. 181)
Sixth Round (No. 211)
Seventh Round (No. 216)
Seventh Round (No. 256)
Texans Current First-Team Offense
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB: Arian Foster
WR: Andre Johnson
WR: DeAndre Hopkins
TE: Garrett Graham
TE: Ryan Griffin
LT: Duane Brown
LG: Ben Jones
C: Chris Myers
RG: Brandon Brooks
RT: Derek Newton
Texans Current First-Team Defense
LE: J.J. Watt
RE: Jared Crick
NT: Jerrell Powe
ILB: Brian Cushing
ILB: Jeff Tarpinian
OLB: Whitney Mercilus
OLB: Brooks Reed
LCB: Kareem Jackson
RCB: Johnathan Joseph
FS: Chris Clemons
SS: D.J. Swearinger