Alright all, the draft is just about upon us. For us draftniks, it is a bittersweet couple of days. On the one hand, all the work that we have put into the draft is about to be rewarded- we get to see how accurately we graded out players, as well as (and more importantly) seeing which prospects will be joining our beloved Texans. On the other, we know that all that work is now obsolete, and it is about time to get cracking on the next wave of prospects. This will be my final mock draft for 2012. I have thought long and hard about each one of these players, and did my best to balance team needs and what I perceived to be good value. I realize that it is impossible to please everyone, but my goal is that everyone finds this mock acceptable. As always I welcome any praise, criticism or questions. Enjoy! Round 1- Stanford TE Coby Fleener, 6’6” 247 lbs Most of us agree that a huge need for the Texans is a number 2 option in the pass game behind Andre Johnson. However, most have turned to the WR corps- Wright, Hill and Randle are all popular picks on this board. However, each of these prospects have serious flaws- Wright is a bit small, Hill is raw and has questionable hands, and Randle is unimpressive on tape, as well as lacking explosion. All of them would be risky in the first. Enter Fleener. While maybe not a traditional TE in the sense of being a powerful run blocker on the line (although, I will say that this perceived flaw is overblown- he is not a mauler, but he gets the job done), Fleener will create mismatches in the pass game as a TE/WR hybrid. Timed in the 4.4’s, he has WR speed. And at 6’6” 247 lbs (with the frame to add more) he has TE size. Add in a 37” vertical, and DC’s have to wonder- how do you cover this guy? He will blow by any linebacker, and outmuscle any defensive back. He finished the 2011-2012 season with 34 grabs for 667 yards (an incredible 19 yard average) and 10 TDs. Round 2- Cal ILB Mychal Kendricks, 5’11” 240 lbs The loss of DeMeco Ryans has left a hole in the Texans’ linebacker group. While some may feel confident with Sharpton, I am not one of them. Kendricks may be short, but I would not call him undersized, since he is a solidly put together 240 lbs. Experienced at playing both OLB and ILB in the 3-4, Kendricks is a proven play maker, both behind the line of scrimmage and in coverage. He can cover even the quickest of TEs with 4.5 speed, and can really lay the wood against a runningback. He is an excellent blitzer up the middle, which can add a new wrinkle to the Texans’ defense. Now, there is some concern about Kendricks’ intelligence and ability to play inside in the NFL. I think that, while he may not be the most intelligent player, he gets the job done. Cushing will be the captain of the defense, Kendricks will be allowed to just play football. For the season, Kendricks compiled 107 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 3 sacks and 2 picks while battling an assortment of injuries. Round 3- Michigan NT Mike Martin, 6’1” 306 lbs As an OSU student (graduating in the spring!), I have had the opportunity to watch Martin very frequently- and have never been disappointed from a talent evaluation standpoint. While NT is not a need, it is a position that could stand to be upgraded, and Martin would provide that upgrade. Martin fits the Texans’ 3-4 D like a glove. A blue collar/effort type player, Martin also boasts impressive weight room numbers. His background in wrestling allows him to apply his superior strength to his great advantage, and allows him to both anchor against the run against larger opponents, or split double teams and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. For the year, Martin collected 64 tackles, 6 behind the line of scrimmage, and 3.5 sacks. Round 4- Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles, 5’10” 192 lbs And here is where we get our Jacoby replacement at KR/PR. Broyles is a first/second round talent that drops due to a horrific injury, and I would be ecstatic to see him on the Texans. While he lacks great speed and size, he earns his keep by having incredible body control, hands, and a “feel” for how to get open. For his career, Broyles caught 349 balls for 4,586 yards and 45 TDs, as well as 108 punt returns for 1194 yards and another 2 TDs. Round 4- Wisconsin FS Aaron Henry, 6’ 208 lbs The Texans have had some good luck taking players out of Wisconsin, and I think that taking Henry here will continue that trend. While FS is not a huge need, it never hurts to grab depth/players to groom for the future in case of injuries. And in the pass happy NFL, having a plethora of DBs is a must. Henry is a FS prospect that exhibits great athleticism and a nose for finding the football and making big plays. For the season, Henry boasts of 67 tackles, 3 behind the line of scrimmage, a sack and 4 picks. Round 5- Virginia Tech OG Jaymes Brooks, 6’2” 310 lbs Brooks is another guy who, in my opinion, fits the Texans perfectly. He is a mobile guard that plays from snap to the whistle, and gives his all for the team. I think he has starter potential at RG as soon as 2013, and should contribute on special teams as early as next year. Round 6- Oklahoma State RT Levy Adcock, 6’6” 320 lbs While this is later in the draft than I originally planned on grabbing a future replacement for Winston, I am still very comfortable with selecting Adcock here this late. Adcock is a big, experienced tackle that has underrated athleticism, which should allow him to not only play in the Texans’ scheme, but to excel. I think he could give Butler a run for his money in training camp, but will ultimately be the back up for a year before assuming starting duties in 2013. Round 7- North Carolina OLB Donte Paige-Moss, 6’3” 268 lbs I am swinging for the fences here boys. It is hard to believe that Paige-Moss’ stock has fallen this far, to where it is quite likely he falls out of the draft altogether, considering he was a consensus 1st round pick at the beginning of the year. What happened? Well, Paige-Moss became lazy, and did not flash the incredible athleticism and effort that he displayed his sophomore season. As such, he lost his starting job, and then tore his ACL in his bowl game against Missouri on December 26th. However, when healthy and committed to the game, Paige-Moss was one of the best pass rushers in college ball. And this late in the draft is where you take your “boom or bust” prospects. I actually think his injury could be considered a blessing, as the Texans can IR him straight away, and can take the time to mold him into an OLB. I think that DPM would eventually (2013-2014 season) play around 260 lbs, and be primarily a 3rd down/passing down type player, whose only responsibility is to pin his ears back and go get the QB. UDFA Target- Michigan State FB Todd Anderson, 6’1” 267 lbs Anderson is the big, punishing FB that the Texans lacked last year after Leach left in free agency. While he is not an athletic freak, he is a good enough athlete to get the job done, largely due to his attitude. He WANTS to hit people. He WANTS to blow people up. And that kind of attitude is exactly what you need. As a bonus, Anderson is extremely new to the position, having played the position for only one year, after moving from DE. If he can get his technique down, I see no reason why Anderson could not become the best blocking FB in the league. Now, he was not used much as a runner or in the pass game, totaling only 1 rush for 1 yard gained, and 6 receptions for 40 yards and a TD. He is definitely a work in progress in this area.