Although the Texans’ main concern wasn’t their offense this off-season, they did make some key offensive pickups in this year’s draft. Last season the Texans’ main issue was with injuries and poor QB play. For instance, about midway through the season, the Texans’ franchise RB Arian Foster sustained a season-ending hamstring injury, leaving Ben Tate to carry the full workload the rest of the season. As well, star TE Owen Daniels was gone for most of the season, leaving the Texans with incredibly limited receiving options. Their QB Matt Schaub, however, was unable to lead the Texans, throwing 14 interceptions, 214.8 yards per game and a 73.0 passing rating in 2013 (worst passer rating for Schaub since his days as a backup in Atlanta. Schaub was eventually benched in place of Houston University alumni Case Keenum after throwing multiple pick sixes to opposing team’s secondaries. Keenum didn’t throw as many interceptions as Schaub did, however he wasn’t as productive as we would have liked, throwing for only a 54.2% completion, 194.9 yards per game and a 78.2 passer rating in 2013. To counter-balance this discrepancy, Houston went out and drafted a RB, a FB, a TE, an OG and a QB that some may not even have expected.
OG Xavier Su’a-Filo University of California, Los Angeles:
As one of the top guards in the draft, the Texans snagged a winner in Su’a-Filo. With this pick the Texans weren’t necessarily filling a need as much as they were looking towards the future. Going into the second day of the draft, many speculated that the Texans were going to select Derek Carr or perhaps another QB to fill their QB need, but instead went with an offensive guard at #33 overall. While Derek Carr could perhaps be a better selection at QB than Tom Savage, there were no guarantees that Su’a-Filo (or another offensive guard of his caliber) would still have been around after the 2nd round. Regardless though, with Su’a-Filo the Texans are getting one of the best offensive guards in the nation. At 6’4 and 1/8 and 307 pounds, Su’a-Filo is not as large as some other offensive linemen, however he is very good at schematic movements and body placement. For instance, during his time at UCLA, he was able to adequately protect UCLA QBs, while still helping the running game. And although he may not be as strong and physically fit as others, in the long run his general ability to execute blocking schemes (pull, trap and combo blocks) will help him go far in the NFL and with the Texans.
TE CJ Fiedorowicz, University of Iowa:
One thing that you need to know about Fiedorowicz is that he is not a pass-catching, route running, 1,000 yards-per-season type of tight end. Don’t get me wrong though, Fiedorowicz can catch the football, especially in red zone situations (299 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2013 as a Hawkeye). However, his claim to fame is through his more than strong frame, hands and ability to control not only his body movement, but also the linebacker’s movement towards the ball carrier. In the long run, Fiedorowicz will most likely be used as a primarily blocking tight end for Arian Foster and Tom Savage, giving the Texans some appreciated offensive line help. Although the TE out of Iowa is a great pickup in terms of his blocking value, I don’t necessarily agree on the placement of the pick, nor the context. At this point the Texans only have two great receivers on their roster: Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Although Fiedorowicz will help the running game, Tom Savage and the Texans need some receivers that can catch the football and help take off all of the double and triple coverages teams have been running on Andre Johnson.
QB Tom Savage, Pittsburgh:
As one of the draft’s late risers, many are still undecided about where they stand in regards to Savage. On the one hand he has a cannon for an arm which can connect on throws deep down the field with relative accuracy and speed. On the other hand though, Savage has a pure gun-slinger mentality at it’s finest. According to his game tape he will often force throws into tight lanes and even make some poor decisions in terms of coverage and such. At Rutgers University Savage was able to throw for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns, with a 128.5 passer rating. After being injured and replaced as starter during his sophomore season, Savage ended up transferring to multiple schools and ended up at the University of Pittsburgh. In his first and only season as a Pitt Panther, Savage was able to throw for a modest 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 61.2% of his throws. He has shown that he definitely has some NFL-worthy attributes. For example, although Savage may not make the best decisions with his arm, he does in fact have a very powerful arm and body. He has the ability to stay in the pocket and take a beating (not that he will with new offensive guard Su’a-Filo blocking for him) and could potentially last the entire season. The only question really is about his football IQ and decision making capabilities. For a starting NFL QB, you’re going to need to make hundreds of decisions on the fly throughout the game. Even though Savage does have somewhat of a grasp on the game, his decision making lacks in some areas. If Savage can work on his timing with his receivers, use of his eyes and head to lead corners away from intended targets, and deliver strikes right to the open receivers, he can potentially be successful in the NFL. Was Savage a steal as the #135 pick? Perhaps. If he does work out in the NFL, kudos to the Texans for being able to make that risk towards another NFL QB.
RB Alfred Blue, Louisiana State University
While the loss of Ben Tate did require the pickup of another running back, I do not believe that Alfred Blue was the correct choice for the Texans considering all of the other picks still on the board. As a tailback at LSU, Blue was only able to rush for 1,253 yards in his entire college career with only 209 carries under his belt. Although Blue’s yards per carry and size are something to be admired, there is no overall appeal to him as a potential starting running back in the NFL. For instance not a mere five picks later, the Redskins went and picked up Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk, a back who happened to rush for 2,189 yards and 18 touchdowns on 289 carries over the past two seasons (7.57 yards per carry). If the Texans could have redone that pick, I advise that they would have selected Seastrunk or even UCF’s Storm Johnson. Regardless, the pick up of Blue will help the Texans out with some fresh legs in case Foster has lingering hamstring issues during the season or towards the end of a game.
FB Jay Prosch, Auburn University
A virtual unknown, Prosch is exactly what one would expect from a 6th-round pick. Although he won’t be turning heads anytime soon with his speed or agility or strength, Prosch adds some depth to the FB position of the Texans and can definitely help out Arian Foster and the Texans totally revamped 2014 blocking scheme. He played fullback at Auburn for four years and was an intricate part of the national championship run. His particular strength is blocking on stretch plays or run plays to the outside. With his size and strength he was able to easily move defenders and seal the edge for either Tre Mason or Nick Marshall. Look for him to play a decent role in the Texans’ running game next season.