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Old 05-13-2004   #1
bckey
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Default Rob "Boomer" Rang interview about Texans draft

I thought some of the fans that don't visit houstonprofootball.com might like to read this.

May 4, 2004
Once, Twice, Three Times a Draft Pick
by Warren DeLuca
HoustonProFootball.com

The third draft in Houston Texans history is in the books. After two offense-heavy drafts, Charley Casserly turned his sights to the other side of the ball. Did he find the defensive playmakers that the Texans need? We asked Rob “Boomer” Rang, owner and editor of West Coast Draft Services (www.westcoastdraft.com), to continue what has become a War Room tradition and give us his thoughts on how the Texans fared in this year’s draft.

Media outlets across the country, including ESPN, USA Today, CBS Sportsline, and The Sporting News have all made use of Rang’s work in the past. In preparing his columns for NFL.com, former Dallas Cowboy vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt often supplements his own information with Rang’s material.

HPF: How does Dunta Robinson compare to other cornerbacks taken in that same range in the last few years, such as DeAngelo Hall, Marcus Trufant, Chris McAllister, and Duane Starks?

Rang: He is as athletic as any of the cornerbacks on this list, but is a rawer prospect due to the fact that he has only really played this position for two years. He does not have the ball skills or return ability of DeAngelo Hall or the size of Chris McAllister. He also lacks the superior speed (4.3) of Duane Starks, though his legitimate 4.4 speed is more than enough to be quite successful. He isn't as polished a cornerback as Trufant, but is a similarly reliable tackler in the open field. He has shown more improvement over the past two seasons than any of the cornerbacks listed above showed in any two-year span and some feel that he has a higher upside than any of those listed above because of it.

HPF: Robinson is being handed the starting cornerback job opposite Aaron Glenn, with incumbent Marcus Coleman moving inside to free safety. How do you think he will handle that challenge, and what are the areas in which he must show the most improvement?

Rang: Robinson should be up to the challenge immediately, though he might struggle some with teams looking to pick on him playing opposite the proven, playmaking Glenn. Expect some inconsistency, of course, but by mid-season I expect him to have erased any doubts about his ability to start in the league, and by the middle of his second season, possibly established himself as one of the top young shut down corners in the league. Some things he still needs to work on, of course, are his ball skills and recognition in zone coverage.

HPF: Trading up to select Jason Babin was the hottest topic of the draft among Texan fans. What did you think of the move, and how well do you think Babin projects to the outside linebacker position in a Dom Capers/Vic Fangio defense?

Rang: I'm not a huge Jason Babin fan. He does have the pure speed to be successful as a linebacker in coverage, though I question his change of direction skills. He does have good instincts and plays to the whistle every time. He has some pass rush technique due to his time at defensive end, but I, unlike the ESPN commentators, was there for each practice at the Shrine Game, and while Babin showed well, he didn't dominate to nearly the level they described. He has some speed off the edge and might be too hard of a worker not to be successful as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but I felt he could have been selected later.

HPF: Charley Casserly has said that Glenn Earl would have been the second best safety in the draft had he been fully healthy. What do you think of that assessment, and what does a healthy Earl bring to the Texans' defense?

Rang: He would have been a Day One safety, but he would have been the fourth or fifth safety on my board if healthy, not the second. Depending on whether you list Michael Boulware as a safety or not (I didn't, but that is where Seattle is going to use him) I would have had Sean Taylor, (Michael Boulware), Sean Jones, and Bob Sanders ahead of him. He is a solid strong safety prospect who plays better as he gets closer to the line of scrimmage. He is a big hitter, but over commits, at times, and will whiff. He isn't as reliable in coverage as some of the other safeties on this list and the injury obviously raises even more concerns about his speed – which wasn't exactly his strongest suit to begin with. He is essentially an extra linebacker in the defensive backfield and would make an improvement quickly in the Houston run defense.

HPF: How do you see Earl's Notre Dame teammate, cornerback Vontez Duff, fitting in with the Texans?

Rang: I was quite surprised to see how poorly he played at the Shrine Game. He not only looked slow, but un-aggressive, and might struggle to find a niche for Houston. He does have ball-hawking skills, but will be beat deep if left on the island for long.

HPF: Jammal Lord has a big transition ahead of him, not only from college to pro, but also from quarterback across the line to safety. How do you think that move will play out?

Rang: Lord is a good enough athlete to make this transition, but the real work will be done in his head. It will take years for him master the intricacies of the position enough to compete for a starting role, though he might make an immediate impact on special teams. Lord is an excellent developmental candidate for the practice squad.

HPF: Both being undersized defensive ends who will be moved to outside linebacker with the Texans, Charlie Anderson and Raheem Orr have been lumped together ever since they were drafted. What is the main difference between these two players?

Rang: Orr is the more explosive pass rusher, but struggles when operating in reverse. Anderson might lack the pure quickness off the snap, but plays with more technique in his pass rush and both recognizes and reacts in pass coverage better. Anderson is better versus the run, as well, though both have to use their hands better.

HPF: Sloan Thomas was primarily a third receiver in college. What does he have to do to make it in the NFL?

Rang: Thomas has a good combination of size and speed, but doesn't stand out in any one area of play. He is an adequate route-runner who lacks explosiveness in his cuts and the deep speed to challenge cornerbacks for the big play. He does have good hands and shows some toughness going over the middle. Houston will definitely have him working on his routes, as University of Texas doesn't run a very complicated offense in terms of their passing attack, often leaving their receivers (and quarterbacks) needing a lot of work once they arrive in the NFL.

HPF: What do you think of the long-term potential of B.J. Symons?

Rang: I think Symons has a shot. Of course, the general consensus is that the Texas Tech offense could be run by a chimpanzee, but in reality, it takes an intelligent, accurate quarterback to be successful in this scheme. Symons has better arm strength than most give him credit for and is a good athlete, too. I think he could surprise.

HPF: Overall, did you see any differences in approach or philosophy from Casserly this year as opposed to the first two drafts of the team's existence?

Rang: I certainly see Houston as having grabbed players they think will make a more immediate impact, as opposed to the developmental players they looked for in years past. From a potential shut down corner to several pass rushers, there seems to be more urgency to create turnovers and develop the defense to match the potential of the offense. Despite their record, Houston was closer than a lot of people realize to being a legitimate playoff contender last year and with the addition of players who can make an immediate impact, the playoffs now seem like a distinct possibility.

Thanks to Rob Rang for his insight.
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Old 05-13-2004   #2
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On Babin, the main reason everyone has a right to question all those draft picks we gave up to get him is that we very likely could have got him anyway if we just stayed put with the high second round pick we had. Of course we'll never know for sure if he would have still been there for us but what we do know already is we paid a ton just to move up a few measly spots to get him.
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Old 05-13-2004   #3
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Originally Posted by geofb
On Babin, the main reason everyone has a right to question all those draft picks we gave up to get him is that we very likely could have got him anyway if we just stayed put with the high second round pick we had. Of course we'll never know for sure if he would have still been there for us but what we do know already is we paid a ton just to move up a few measly spots to get him.
There is a zero % chance he would have lasted to #41. And we didnt pay that much to get him. I guess the season will prove if he was worth it.
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Old 05-13-2004   #4
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There is a zero % chance he would have lasted to #41. And we didnt pay that much to get him. I guess the season will prove if he was worth it.

You don't know that for sure. It is ok to question the trade and still think Babin is going to be great and worth it. Some people question the trade up because it was only from 40 to 27 and do think Babin would have been there.

You can't say we didn't pay that much to get him either. Randy Starks, Matt Ware, Donnell Washington, Bernard Berrian, and Will Poole are some of the 3rd rounders that were available.

Bo Schobel, Isaac Sopoaga, Nathan Vasher, Will Allen, PK Sam, and Jason Shivers all were there for our 4th round pick.
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Old 05-13-2004   #5
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Well, I guess we will have to wait till the season open's up to figure that one out.
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Old 05-13-2004   #6
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Originally Posted by bckey
You don't know that for sure. It is ok to question the trade and still think Babin is going to be great and worth it. Some people question the trade up because it was only from 40 to 27 and do think Babin would have been there.

You can't say we didn't pay that much to get him either. Randy Starks, Matt Ware, Donnell Washington, Bernard Berrian, and Will Poole are some of the 3rd rounders that were available.

Bo Schobel, Isaac Sopoaga, Nathan Vasher, Will Allen, PK Sam, and Jason Shivers all were there for our 4th round pick.
All the players you listed lasted till the later rounds for a reason. EVERY single team in the NFL passed on these guys till late in the draft. We only gave up ONE first day pick to select a starting outside linebacker. That is not much of a "cost" to me. Second day picks generally do not pan out at a high rate. Look at past NFL drafts if you do not believe me. www.drafthistory.com

In addition, I think it is safe to assume that Babin would be gone since there have been several articles saying that teams were trying to trade up to select him also. This draft was EXTREMELY thin in edge rushers this year, and if you want a guy, you just do not assume he will be there. Our cost was minimal when you consider he projects to start as a rookie in one of the most critical positions in the 3-4. In a normal draft, you make 3 first day picks. We made two....both top 27 players. Giving up pick 70 something and 100-something for a starter does not bother this fan the least bit.
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Old 05-15-2004   #7
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By most sources I followed Babin was considered the 3rd best DE in the draft. Now how he projects to his new position is the key. You could make a strong arguement that he was the #1 OLB prospect in the draft for a team using the 3-4 alingment, remember it all comes down to matchups & the Texans are convinced he presents the best possible mis-matches of any OLB in the draft which along with a young shutdown corner in Dunta, is what Dr. Casserly ordered
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Old 05-19-2004   #8
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"Robinson should be up to the challenge immediately, though he might struggle some with teams looking to pick on him playing opposite the proven, playmaking Glenn. Expect some inconsistency, of course, but by mid-season I expect him to have erased any doubts about his ability to start in the league, and by the middle of his second season, possibly established himself as one of the top young shut down corners in the league. "

On the Robinson note - does anyone else see about a zillion "fire.." and "should've gotten..." threads if Robinson follows the above mentioned process? Should be an interesting season regardless.
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Old 05-19-2004   #9
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I see that happening. Everyone expected AJ to do even better than he did. He had a very good rookie year. Patience seems to be dwindling from many of our fellow fans.
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Old 05-19-2004   #10
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I am not sure where all of this "Over payed" is coming from. If I remember correctly (allways an open question) we payed 85 point over based on the trade vaule chart for the move. The team moving allways pays more to move up and in this draft moving up was a premium, so 85 extra points of value doesn't seem to be much of an over payment. The claim that "Such and such" player was available if we had stayed, can be made for ANYONE who moves up (the old wouda, coulda, shoulda syndrom). The question is did you get reasonable value for your move, and in this case we did fairly well based on the trade value chart. How well remains to be seen by player action.
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Old 05-20-2004   #11
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On trades, I'm only really concerned about "first day" picks. We only had a net-loss of one first day selection. We managed to resolve 3 starting spots on our first day draft, and we have a ton of non-starting types on our roster (second day picks we gave to the Titans).
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Old 05-20-2004   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelBlue
On trades, I'm only really concerned about "first day" picks. We only had a net-loss of one first day selection. We managed to resolve 3 starting spots on our first day draft, and we have a ton of non-starting types on our roster (second day picks we gave to the Titans).
I agree. The hardest thing for a developing franchise to manage, in any sport, is OPPORTUNITY. A developing team can afford to hang in there with young players and give them a full shot. The mistakes can be tolerated somewhat, because you're not going to the playoffs anyway. It gets harder to give out that opportunity as they start winning more and become closer to a playoff team. They have to manage the transition and how they give out opportunity carfeully.

The Texans had an immediate OPPORTUNITY for a young CB and OLB. They managed the draft to get the best possible candidates, in their judgement, at these positions. They only gave up so much if they would only have been able to draft players who aren't better than those already on their roster. If they drafted a guard, for instance, and he isn't any better than Weary, or Brown, who they have to cut in order to keep the new draftee on the roster, what have they lost?

It makes no sense to say "The Titans drafted a TE and two defensive lineman the Texans could have drafted. In they work out, then the Texans lost." The missing ingredient in the development formula is OPPORTUNITY. Is there OPPORTUNITY for a Texans to develop a TE, or does Joppru have that spot? The same is true with the DL. What OPPORTUNITY is there behind Walker, Payne and Smith?

We can only hope that CC and company selected the right candidates and enjoy the development of Carr, Johnson, Robinson, Babin, Gaffney, Joppru & Pitts, etc.
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Old 05-21-2004   #13
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The key point that caused the Texans to trade up to get Babin was the low numbers of edge rushers as mentioned before. There were lots of DL and S availible, but CC stuck to the plan of getting our safety late. Now we have to sit back and watch the game unfold to see if the plan worked.
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