Today’s NFL is a passer’s league. Long gone are the days when the offense revolved around the workhouse running backs like the Cleveland Jim Browns of yesteryear. The early 1970’s Bills with O.J. “The Juice” Simpson, or even the Luv Ya Blue Oilers with Earl Campbell were classic examples. Today the running back position is not valued as much as it used to be, but once in awhile a special running back comes along that is worth that first round pick investment.
If the NFL Draft consisted of three special running backs and you were given the same statistical categories for each one, would you consider using your teams first round pick on a running back? We will begin with option A, who gained 3,130 yards rushing with a 5.8 yards per carry average and cashed in 35 rushing touchdowns during a three-year SEC career. Pretty nice right?
Houston Texans: With Brian Cushing Out For Season Should Texans Also Bench Connor Barwin For Whitney Mercilus?
Most of the time when a franchise drafts a player in the first round they are either drafted for need in that position or as the best available player. Most teams' first-round picks are either starting or being rotated in for a significant amount of snaps.
The Texans have become more balanced and have proven to have solid depth in talent by drafting under the strategy of the "best player available." Their latest first-round pick, Whitney Mercilus, a defensive end from Illinois is an outside linebacker in Wade Philips 3-4 scheme, in the same vein as Mario Williams's role in the defense.
However, Mercilus is currently second on the depth chart to Connor Barwin who remains sackless for the season and is in a contract year. The thought process is that Barwin will be given all the snaps of opportunity to earn himself a extension, therefore most fans do not know too much about their first round pick Mercilus other than seeing him contribute on special teams and leading the team in the preseason with three and a half sacks.
I have been attending all the Texans training camp days over the weekend and I went headstrong with players that I know are going to be great and want to be there to watch them start to make that leap. The first day I just wanted to watch Kareem Jackson and Brandon Harris who are my two favorite Texan's defensive backs, I do however respect that Jonathan Joseph is the best on the squad. As I watched Harris and Jackson I thought to myself that the tandem of those two corners should be fun to watch. Harris will now fill in the sub role of the departed now Bengal corner Jason Allen.
With Allen's departure Alan Ball was brought in. I am far from sold on Ball. Watching him in camp, Roc Carmichael seemed to outperform Ball. Which part of 2011 Cowboys secondary makes you think of any great corners? I just seem to remember the guys over there in Dallas that play in a 'billion dollar play pen' seem to get scorched and blow games. So I am not a Ball fan and really hope the Harris will be given a legitimate shot to be ahead of Ball on the depth chart and not be tied to some salary guilt trip feeling like you have to play Ball because you are paying him more
The 2012 NFL Draft is in the rear view mirror, but for burgeoning clubs like the Houston Texans, the expectations for the newest group of first-year players might play a pivotal role in the up-coming season.
Here is a look at the Texans' selections, and the how well GM Rick Smith did on draft day.
First Round selection, No. 26 overall: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois 6'3" 261 lbs; Expert Scout grade: 86.0
Mercilus is already drawing criticism about his game being a possible one-year wonder after he led the NCAA in sacks and forced fumbles last season in his first year as a starter. However, some see Mercilus's progress as just the start of perhaps break-out career, as he is expected to immediately contribute to the pass rush of last season's No. 2 ranked defense. Mercilus was probably the best overall player on the board and the Texans should feel fortunate to have had him available at No. 26.
Third Round selection, No. 68 overall: DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio St. 6'1" 211 lbs; Expert Scout grade: 71.50
The 2012 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, Apri. 26, and though the first two selections shouldn't come as much of a surprise, the rest of the first round should have plenty of interesting picks.
Here's a look at how the first round might look:
* 1 Colts * Luck, Andrew
*2 Redskins * Griffin III, Robert
* 3 Vikings * Kalil, Matt
* 4 Browns * Richardson, Trent
* 5 Buccaneers * Clailborne, Morris
* 6 Rams * Blackmon, Justin
* 7 Jaguars * Ingram, Melvin
* 8 Dolphins * Tannehill, Ryan
* 9 Panthers * Jenkins, Janoris
* 10 Bills * Reiff, Riley
* 11 Chiefs * Kuechly, Luke
* 12 Seahawks * Coples, Quinton
* 13 Cardinals * Decastro, David
* 14 Cowboys * Barron, Mark
* 15 Eagles * Brockers, Michael
* 16 Jets * Floyd, Michael
* 17 Bengals * Glenn, Cordy
* 18 Chargers * Branch, Andre
* 19 Bears * Wright, Kendall
* 20 Titans * Kirkpatrick, Dre
* 21 Bengals * Miller, Lamar
* 22 Browns * Martin, Jonathan
* 23 Lions * Adams, Mike
* 24 Steelers * Poe, Dontari
* 25 Broncos * Cox, Fletcher