The Texans entered the draft hoping to add the final pieces necessary to push the franchise deeper into the playoffs. They had just a few needs on the roster and most were addressed in the early rounds.
DeAndre Hopkins/WR/Clemson (Round 1, pick #27): Prior to the draft we were lead to believe receiver Robert Woods of USC was one of Houston’s first round targets. They settled on a different wide out in Hopkins. While Hopkins does not possess the same run after the catch skills as Woods, he’s polished, offers better hands and is a sturdier receiver. Considering the need at the position, expect Hopkins to be a day one starter for Houston.
DJ Swearinger/S/South Carolina (Round 2, pick #57): Entering the season Swearinger ranked high on our list at the safety position and we never wavered from that opinion. He’s a complete defensive back that can play a true centerfield position or line-up in zone. Swearinger lacks great length (5-feet, 10.5-inches), does not time well in the forty (4.62s) and also runs his mouth at times. He’ll now learn under free agent acquisition Ed Reed and we expect the Texans second round pick to see significant playing time as a rookie and eventually develop into a starter.
Brennan Williams/T/North Carolina (Round 3, pick #89): Were it not for a shoulder issue which hampered Williams in 2012, there’s a good chance he would’ve received top 40 consideration. At the top of his game Williams is a terrific combination of power, athleticism and versatility. Williams offers competition at the tackle spot and could transition into a starting role for Houston if need be.
Sam Montgomery/DE/LSU (Round 3, pick #95): While we like the first three picks, this one is a head scratcher. From a football point of view Montgomery is a one-dimensional 4-3 end with limited upside. From an athletic point of view he possesses marginal size, speed and growth potential. Worst of all, he’s a poor fit for the Texans 3-4 alignment. And even after all that there are major personality issues Montgomery brings with him.
Trevardo Williams/DE-OLB/UConn (Round 4, pick #124): Athleticism and speed are not a question for Williams. On the other hand his 6-foot, 1.5-inch/241-pound frame makes it difficult to find a place for him on the field. In the Texans defensive scheme Williams fits as a pass rushing linebacker and will add depth to the tandem of Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus. Williams size and style are similar to another fourth round choice; three time Pro-Bowl player Elvis Dumervil.
David Quessenberry/OL/San Jose State (Round 6, pick #176): Quessenberry entered the draft rated as a potential third round choice. For some reason, and we’ve not found out why, he slid into the late part of the draft’s final day. The versatile Quessenberry can line up at tackle or guard. Considering starter Wade Smith is 32 years old and his back-up is undrafted free Cody White, this pick not only offers value but could be a real bargain for Houston in the future.
Alan Bonner/WR/Jacksonville State (Round 6, pick #195): Bonner was an interesting selection in round six as he’s a polished pass catcher with reliable hands but pedestrian game speed. Bonner offers competition for the fifth receiver spot but in the end he’ll likely find himself on a practice squad in the league.
Chris Jones/DL/Bowling Green (Round 6, pick #198): Just like third round choice Sam Montgomery, we wonder how Jones fits the Houston defense. The explosive defender made an inordinate amount of tackles behind the line of scrimmage in college but his size and style really dictates three technique tackle in the NFL. Jones is a natural fit when the Texans line up four defenders up front but in the end he may struggle making the roster.
Ryan Griffin/TE/UConn (Round 6, pick #201): From a player point of view we’ve always liked Griffin. He’s dependable, catches the ball well and gives effort blocking. Then again from a prospect point of view Griffin is a marginal athlete, lacks the speed to break downfield as a pass catcher and the size to hold up as a blocker. Rather than a sixth round selection Griffin could’ve been signed after the draft as a free agent.
Grade: B. Except for a few bumps, there’s a lot to like in this draft. Houston filled a need at receiver and got an immediate starter in round one. Second round choice DJ Swearinger should quickly make his presence felt and they added depth as well as a few situational specialists on the final day. Not bad for a team who hopes to compete for a conference title this season.
Without a 2nd-round pick in the 2013 draft thanks to the Vontae Davis trade, the Colts found themselves with just two of the first 120 overall picks. Even though Indianapolis made the playoffs last season, they still had some holes to fill and the 2013 draft won’t be one for Indianapolis fans to write home about. Chris Tripodi breaks down why below.
Bjoern Werner/DE/Florida State (Round 1/Pick #24): Werner was the 12th-rated prospect on the Draft Insider big board and the Colts were very happy he fell to them in the back half of the first round. A high-upside pass rusher who had 13 sacks during his All-American junior season, Werner should help an Indianapolis pass rush that registered just 32 sacks last season. Quick off the snap and fast off the edge, the former Seminole is a high-motor player whose hard work over the past three seasons has been evident in his development. His doesn’t have great speed or pursuit ability, but those weaknesses should be masked as he steps into an outside linebacker position in the Colts’ 3-4 defense. Werner should be the eventual replacement for Robert Mathis.
Hugh Thornton/G/Illinois (Round 3/Pick #86): Graded as a 6th-round pick by Draft Insider, we feel Thornton was a reach in the third round, which is bad news for a team without a 2nd-round pick. Thornton is a big guard that can block very well in a small area but struggles when asked to move. He is slow to the second level and slow blocking in motion without the footwork to make up for his lack of foot speed. If the Colts plan to keep him in small spaces on the inside, this can be a decent pick. If they are expecting more from Thornton, they are likely to be disappointed in their second pick of the 2013 draft.
Khaled Holmes/C/USC (Round 4/Pick #121): Holmes is a more talented lineman than the player taken a round before him but while Hugh Thornton works hard and gets the most out of his ability, Holmes has had his passion for football questioned by scouts. The common axiom is that you must love the game of football to succeed at the NFL level no matter how much talent you have, and Holmes will need to prove that desire to make it in the league. If he does, Holmes is a complete lineman with upside and the versatility to play multiple positions on the offensive line. He plays with good vision, explosion and leverage and can get to the second level quickly, although he lacks great skills in space. A better fit at center than guard as a result, Holmes is definitely a boom-or-bust pick for Indianapolis.
Montori Hughes/DT/Tennessee Martin (Round 5/Pick #139): Rated higher on the Draft Insider board than both of the offensive lineman the Colts chose earlier, Hughes could prove to be a very good value pick in the fifth round. Indianapolis traded up to draft him so it would seem that they have big plans in store. Hughes’ game is still inconsistent but he’s shown the ability to be a dominant force and was impressive at the Senior Bowl. At 6-4, 330 pounds, he has the size and strength to play nose tackle in the Colts’ 3-4 but his production at the small school level after being dismissed from Tennessee was nothing special. He faced constant double teams and was able to control the line of scrimmage, but fatigue was an issue for him as games wore on. Hughes has potential, but may not be ready to help the Colts right away.
John Boyett/S/Oregon (Round 6/Pick #192): After being honored as an All-American after a great sophomore season, Boyett followed up a solid junior season by playing just one game as a senior before having surgery on both patella tendons. He lacks great size (5-10, 205) and speed (4.58) but has drawn Jim Leonhard comparisons as an overachiever who gets the most from his ability. Much like Leonhard, he won’t be effective in man coverage due to his height but his instincts, effort and awareness will serve him well in the right system. If he can come back to play at his pre-injury level and the Colts keep the action in front of him, Boyett has the ability to start in the NFL. If he has a career similar to Leonhard’s, Indianapolis will be very pleased with this pick.
Kerwynn Williams/RB/Utah State (Round 7/Pick #230): At just 5-8 and 195 pounds, Williams is the epitome of a third-down back. He will never be suited for feature duty but his field vision and ability to make people miss in the open field could make him a nice complement to plodding, one-speed starter Vick Ballard. Williams has good hands and can threaten a defense down the field as well as on short passes out of the backfield, giving Andrew Luck another weapon in the passing game and a good safety valve when the Colts blocking breaks down like it did often last season. Williams has experience returning kicks as well, which only adds to his potential value with the Colts.
Justice Cunningham/TE/South Carolina (Round 7/Pick #254): 2013’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” Cunningham’s NFL career will likely be just that. He has good size and run blocking ability though, which could land him third on the Colts’ depth chart behind Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. With just 40 receptions in his last two seasons at South Carolina, don’t expect him to be much of a target in the passing game. The Colts don’t need that out of their third tight end anyway, so Cunningham at least has a chance to stick on the roster.
Grade: C+. Werner was a great pickup for the Colts in Round 1 but outside of him, the Colts failed to draft any high-impact players for the 2013 season unless Hugh Thornton or Khaled Holmes hit harder than we expect. Montori Hughes is a good developmental prospect and both John Boyett and Kerwynn Williams could play larger roles than expected but it’s possible that in two years, the Colts may have only added one or two starters from this year’s draft. They drafted for need but lacking a second-round pick hurt, as well as reaching with their next pick.
Selecting a wide receiver in last July’s supplemental draft then trading for one on draft day this year left the Cleveland Browns short of picks. The team decided to get defensive with their remaining selections.
Barkevious Mingo/OLB/LSU (Round 1, pick #6): Entering the draft we knew the Browns would go one of two ways; either cornerback Dee Milliner or linebacker Barkevious Mingo. In the end they chose the latter and we think its a good move. At the top of his game Mingo is a game impacting defensive player who combines speed, athleticism and agility to make plays in every direction of the field. Despite paltry sack numbers from 2012, Mingo can force the action up the field and his ability in pursuit is outstanding. He definitely needs to get stronger as Mingo may struggle defending the run in the NFL. If they get him hitting on all cylinders people will fondly look back on this selection.
Leon McFadden/CB/San Diego State (Round 3, pick #68): After bypassing Milliner in the first frame, Cleveland came away with a quality cornerback in McFadden two rounds later. The feisty defensive back was well thought of in scouting circles and after a terrific campaign in 2012, McFadden looked outstanding at the Senior Bowl. Poor forty times at the combine (mid 4.5s area) plus touching just 5-feet, 9.5-inches on the tape pushed him out of round two, but from a film point of view, McFadden has the skills necessary to start in the NFL.
Jamoris Slaughter/S/Notre Dame (Round 6, pick #175): Cleveland took a chance on Slaughter in round six, despite the fact the former Notre Dame safety missed all but three games last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. When healthy and at the top of his game Slaughter is a complete player who willingly defends the run while also displaying good ball skills in coverage. Injuries eventually heal and this could turn out to be good value for the Browns
Armonty Bryant/DE-OLB/East Central Oklahoma (Round 7, pick #217): Bryant had some off the field issues he recently attended to but was worth a roll of the dice in round seven. He’s a terrific athlete that can be used as a rotational pass rusher out of a three-point stance or standing up over tackle. At worst expect Bryant to secure space on a practice squad this fall.
Garrett Gilkey/OL/Chadron State (Round 7, pick #227): Gilkey was great value in round seven and the versatile lineman offers ability at several blocking positions. Considering his college career and the skills Gilkey displayed at the Senior Bowl, its a surprise he lasted this late in the draft. If properly coached Gilkey could develop into a starter for the Browns.
Grade: B+. The difference between the Browns receiving an “A” versus a “B+” is the limited number of picks. One could justifiably argue selecting Josh Gordon in last July’s supplemental draft was well worth surrendering a second round choice this April. Veteran receiver/return specialist Davone Bess was also worth swapping a few middle/late round choices. The Browns also traded away middle/late round choices this year for earlier picks in 2014, another factor which must be considered. From a player point of view, there’s a lot to like on paper. Mingo and McFadden should be first year starters, Bryant can contribute as a rookie while both Slaughter and Gilkey offer future potential. Despite some doubts from my end over the Browns new front office, give credit where credit is due; this was a very solid initial draft.