And here we are at the 7-3 Mock. What a difference a couple of days makes. One day we are flying high after a big win after a big road win in Tampa. The next, we are crestfallen to learn of Schaub's injury. One step forward a step back? I don't know, but 7-3 still feels mighty good. AJ and Casey should be at full strength and hopefully Leinart will be good enough. 1. I have the Texans picking somewhere around 25. With that said, some of the players I have initially been targeting are now all but gone (unless the Texans trade up). First, David DeCastro. To me, he looks like the real deal. He is the best OG prospect since Steve Hutchinson. He has size and strength and mobility. I think he can go around 15. Taamu has lost some luster as a NT, but dont be surprised if a 3-4 team grabs him and switches him out to a more natural attacking big monster DE a la Ryan Pickett or Ngata. The Texans have to be smart and take BPA rather than reach on a need. In this scenario, I think 3-4 DE Billy Winn IS the BPA. He has speed to get to the QB, is able to be play the run, and has a high motor. A lot of his plays come because of extra effort. I have seen numerous times when the Texans DL/LBs get to the QB BECAUSE of the second, third, or even fourth effort. Winn is that kind of guy and would fit in naturally here. Billy Winn, DE, Boise State, 64, 288lbs, 4.94 2. Some of you may think I really hate Brisel, I dont. Really I dont hate him at all. I just seem him as a guy who is overmatched against elite DLs. That said, I am going to push for the selection of a dominant OG. Now, the person I choose is not as good as DeCastro. Nobody is. The guy I choose is arguably the second or third best OG in the draft and is still a very good one. He routinely blasts holes in the opponent DL, has the athleticism to make that key downfield block, and can pass block. I believe he has the chops to start at either RG or LG from day 1 and be a 10+ year starter. Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin, 64, 312lbs, 5.21 3. I like the idea of versatility on the DL and I think Wade does as well. He likes guys who are athletic, guys who can play the run, and those who can get after the QB. But more over, he likes guys who LOVE football and give their all on EVERY play. So, for this selection, I will choose a guy who has the versatility to play anywhere along the DL: RDE, LDE or NT. One of the things that drew me to him the first time I saw him was his footwork. I was amazed a guy his size could move like that. He also has very deceptive speed. You think a man of his size cannot run, but he can move much faster than you initially expect. This guy could be our NT, starter anywhere on the DL, or a supersub. Hebron Fangupo, DT/DE, BYU, 61, 331lbs, 5.08 4. One of the deepest positions I see in this draft is at the OG spot. This is a rare year for OGs, so I will go back to the well and get another one. Some people may not like this and think we have a more than enough OGs on the team already. I counter by saying, who do we really have? Zeitler (drafted in this mock), Smith(solid but older), Brisel(you know my opinion on him), Shelly Smith (not at all impressed), Studdard(very iffy), Caldwell (disappointing), Gardner/Thomas/Barieri (no idea what they can do). Of that group, only Smith and Zeitler are starting material. Studdard and Caldwell should be cut as they have been not been able to do enough to justify their spots. Caldwell has been especially disappointing. I saw him in the last game in garbage time and he did not look good at all. I would not be thrilled having him as a backup. Thanks to a deep OG draft, I will draft another OG. He would immediately become Smiths backup (I have Brisel as Zietlers backup) and would give us an OG to eventually replace Smith in a couple of years. This guy was a fantastic ALL conference OG for the past 2 years. This year, his coach decides to move him to Right and then Left Tackle and has complained that it hasnt worked out. Rather than move him back to his natural OG spot, the coach is sticking with him at OT. This is hurting his value. His loss is our gain because he is a fantastic OG. Brandon Washington, OG, Miami, 64, 320lbs, 5.21 5. One of the things we have seen this Texan team become over the last few weeks is Old School. They are running the ball hard and playing good D. In this system, like any system, running backs are important and you can never have enough of them. Foster and Tate have been great, but earlier in the year Foster, Tate, and Ward were all injured and we had to use Chris O to carry the rock. Injuries are a part of the game and RBs take the most pounding and end up having short shelf lives. We saw what happened to Slaton and Dom Davis: good for a year(or more) and then one bad injury and they are never the same. Thing is, I dont know if Ward will want to stick around another year in Htown. It is clear that Foster is the starter and Tate the backup, so he may want to go elsewhere to get a shot to start. And quite frankly, I can't blame him. So, I say, go get another quality back. Here is a guy who can run, catch the ball out of the backfield, and is a decent blocker. Blocking can be learned in camp and through the year. He wont be asked to start and hopefully he wont play in year 1 (outside of perhaps some ST duty). In time he can be worked into the offense and eventually take up more running plays in garbage time and could eventually help form a young three headed monster running attack. Brandon Bolden, RB, Mississippi, 511, 221, 4.52 6. It is important to have quality backups across the positions. We have seen this year that quality backups have been needed in multiple areas. One player that I have concern about is Demeco. He doesnt quite look like the same player pre-injury and quite frankly may never be again. Cush has stepped up as the dominant ILB on the team and more often than not, Meco looks like he has lost a step. I hope that is because he is still recovering from his foot injury and not permanent. With Sharpton down, additional depth at ILB is needed. I realize that the guy I am picking only played 4 games due to tearing his ACL. Instead look at what he did up till that point:3.5 tackles for loss, 3 ints, 2 pass breakups, and 35 total tackles. Now look at his stats from last year:11 tackles for loss, 80 tackles, 3 sacks. Here is what he did as a sophomore:121 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. This guy is a playmaker. He can rush the QB, makes tackles in the backfield, deflects passes, and even has good enough hands to get INTs. If he didnt tear his ACL he would be a solid 2nd round prospect if not better. Getting 2nd round talent in the 6th is how good teams continue to be good teams year after year. Korey Williams, ILB, Southern Miss 7. Until I know otherwise, I will continue to mock Derrick Mason here. Notes 1. I did not pick a WR in this mock. I understand the need for a WR, but reaching for a WR is risky. Instead I think BPA gives us the best overall team. In the offseason, McNair gave Wade the CB and Safety his D needed. I think he would get a good WR for Kubes. 2. I did not take a QB in this mock. Simply put, I want to see how Leinart handles the job and get a better understanding of the recovery road Schaub faces. I need several games to see what Leinart can and cannot do. If Leinart delivers, in spades we may be in good shape. If he manages the game and does not screw up, we may be ok. If he implodes we may have to consider a QB far earlier than I would like. At this point I think it is only right to give Leinart the opportunity to prove himself and allow him to succeed or fail on his own merits. The other reason I did not take a QB is TJ Yates. We just took him last year and Kubes seems to like him quite a bit and thinks he has the goods to be a starter. With a full offseason and training camp under his belt, a combination of Leinart/Yates may be enough to get us through until Schaub can return. 3. I did not take a FB. I have gotten over the loss of Leach. I think Casey will be the longterm answer at FB for the team as long as Kubes is the coach and I am good with that. 4. I did not take any DBs. The Texans have a GLUT of young DBs that need an opportunity to shine. In addition to Joseph, Manning, Jackson, Allen, and Quinn: Harris, McManis, McCain, Keo, Demps, Nolan, and Carmimichael are on the roster. We need to give the youngsters a chance in order to see what we have and what we dont have before we acquire more DBs. 5. Yes, I really took 2 OGs. This is a deep draft for OGs and I think we can get 1 starter and 1 quality depth/potential starter down the line here. As I previously said, I think Studdard and Caldwell simply have not done enough to keep their spots. In my mind Shelly Smith has to step up.