Houston Texans 2012 draft primer By Stephanie Stradley http://blog.chron.com/ultimatetexan...er/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter Thankfully, this years draft talk was postpone a little longer than it usually is. Which is better for me because it means less time I have to find content to fill the long, soon-to-be hot offseason. I enjoy looking at mock drafts and trying to figure out how the potential players might fit into the squad. I dont pretend to be a draftnik because I havent watched tape of the college players, and even if I did, I wouldnt be qualified to say what Im looking at. Much of the clips on the web are very edited in a way where you may see only the good or the bad stuff but not the body of a college players work. What is interesting to me about this draft is that the Texans have become a harder team to make for an incoming drafted player. For example, one of the things that Arian Foster looked at in his decision on where to go as an undrafted free agent was to see who the incumbent running backs were already on the roster, and where he might have an opportunity. A quality system and need at the position is likely why the Texans were able to acquire some of the best undrafted free agent wide receivers last season. One reason why the 2006 draft class for the Texans was so productive is that the team had so many blatant needs all over the roster, that talent plus fit plus opportunity gave those players early access to the field. I may not know a ton about the incoming draft class, other than it is supposed to be loaded given all the juniors coming out early, but what I do think I have a good feel for is what the Texans look for in their system, their players and what they may value more than other teams. Looking at the past to predict the future. Before reading any further, I strongly suggest reading my piece after the draft last year entitled, Welcome JJ Watt: The Most Texany Texan. To get a sense of who the Texans might draft this year, its worth looking at their past drafts. Usually after the draft, you can look at who the Texans took, and pretty much figure out why they took that guy instead of some other guy that might have been available. Things that the Texans value higher than other teams: Project to the NFL measurables. The Texans have taken players who may not be four year players, or who have switched positions, but who have athletic skills and size that players tend to need on the next level. They want to see success at that position, but they are not scared away from small schools or developmental players. Football Leadership. If you look at the players the Texans have drafted in the past, many were leaders on their teams. Often they were fan favorites from the schools they came from. (DeMeco Ryans, JJ Watt). Football Desire. They want players who love playing the game and who are self-motivated. Guys who have the strong motivation to be the best at their positions. Character/Intelligence. Related to football desire, they want players who make smart decisions in life and in football. Thats not to say that the Texans have only drafted and acquired choir boys because thats not true. They want to see something going on behind a players eyes. A desire to do the right thing. Coachability. Special Teams Ability. Kubiak doesnt like special team specialists. He wants all his rookies to contribute on special teams, and if a player has return ability, that is a plus factor. Need. As much as the Texans talk about drafting for best available player, in the salary cap era, you cant completely do that because all positions have different values, and some positions are hard to acquire in free agency. Last year, defensive end wasnt considered a need for the Texans because most people believed that Mario Williams would remain at end, but it was a deep draft at end, and the Texans could pick any sort of defense last year and likely fill a need. Just about each year under Gary Kubiak, if the team had a need, the draft was like going to the store with a shopping list. The difficulty with the Texans needs this year is some of the positions that they could improve are ones that take time for rookies to make an impact. (Though the same could have been said for JJ Watts position, and he did an astonishing job for a rookie at that position). For example, wide receiver in the Texans system is a need with an aging WR group. Its also not an easy position for any rookie to learn, much less in the Texans system that demands precise route running, high completion percentage, plus blocking ability. If pressed, the Texans would trade some athleticism at the position for wide receiver smarts, though in a perfect world theyd like both. Due to salary cap concerns, Im not sure that free agency is a realistic option because there are so many wide receiver-needy teams that will have more money to spend. To some degree, it is hard to discuss need too much because we dont know what free agency has in store and which players will be able to be retained and at what cost. So who do you have on your Texans draft radar? Most national ranking lists do not look at specific team needs. The differences in the rankings can be miniscule, and the above plus factors may be a part of the Texans taking one player over another. So given the criteria above, I would like for people who are bigger draftniks than me to say who you think would be good fits for the Texans system and the kind of players that they like. For those who are not draftniks but who are Texans fans, tell me what you think the priority of team needs are.