Every year directly following the NFL draft, teams scramble to scoop up all of the players they had grades on that didn’t get drafted in any of the seven rounds. These players are often just thrilled to have a chance at an NFL tryout, and in the case of players such as Arian Foster, Tony Romo, and Wes Welker, can become some of the league’s top talents.
So every team is trying to find their diamond in the rough, and the Houston Texans are no different, at last report signing 10 undrafted rookies, and inviting them to come try out at their rookie mini camp.
In the NFL no player’s roster spot is safe, and these undrafted rookies all have a chip on their shoulder and are looking to make a splash in the one shot they’ll get at professional football.
The Texans haven’t officially released a list of signings, but Toro Times editor Stephen Forsha recently reported the 23 players that the Texans signed to undrafted free agent contracts, and this is an overview of each of these players and how they may fit in as Texans
The Texans signed Chris Boswell, the Kicker from Rice University. Undoubtedly Texans executives have been watching Boswell from a short distance as he played college ball in Houston, and they love his strong leg and accuracy. Texans Kicker Randy Bullock was far short of being a league-leading kicker last season, so I think everyone is hoping that this competition can either boost Bullock’s drive to be productive, or supplant him as the starting kicker.
Only two kickers were taken in this year’s draft, so it seems to make sense that there would be several signed quickly, as teams attempt to solidify a very important but often overlooked position. The Texan’s have stated that Boswell is competing with Bullock for the kicking job, and think he’s a great prospect, saying he’s looked great in local workouts in Reliant Stadium.
The Texans grabbed C.J. Fiedorowicz in the 3rd round and he is likely to step in quickly and help out Garrett Graham, but Chris Coyle out of Arizona State and Anthony Denham of Utah are both hoping to compete for a roster spot at the position as well. Coyle is an undersized guy who has potential for some big time plays but will need to bulk up and work on his blocking if he really wants a shot.
Denham is another guy who won’t excel as a blocker, and really plays a bit more like a wideout. Both of these guys will need to work on technique and physicality in order to get a spot with the Texans.
The Texans signed wideouts Anthony McClung from Cincinnati, Travis Labhart from A&M, Nathan Slaughter from West Texas A&M, and Lacoltan Bester from OU as undrafted free agents. Bester was a remarkably unproductive player in his two seasons as a Sooner totaling only 421 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
He has a fair amount of special teams experience, an underrated quality that could prove valuable for the Texans. OU’s shoddy QB play and Bester’s lack of experience meant he did not live up to expectations, but it will be interesting to see if he can step up over the next few weeks and reach the full potential that his physical talents suggest. McClung has solid skills, but his physical traits leave something to be desired.
Maybe his returning experience can help him become a special teams asset. Labhart lacks experience but has great quickness and the potential to develop into a skilled player. Slaughter is a little guy but has great quickness and speed, and made a name returning kickoffs in college. These guys all have some limitations, but lack experience, so hopefully they’ll develop into productive talents.
Houston signed five guys on the O-line, Tackles Matt Feiler from Bloomsburg, Chris Martin from Central Florida, and Bryan Witzmann from South Dakota State, Guard Kevin Forsch from Houston, and Center Kjileby Oiland out of Montana.
Witzmann has a lot of experience as a starter and the intangibles of a great leader, but isn’t the most physically talented player. Martin is a big, strong, powerful player who is somewhat lacking in his technique. Matt Feiler is another big powerful player, but his background at a small Division II school leaves some questions about his skill against better talent.
Kevin Forsch is a local guy, and has a lot of natural talent. He needs to bulk up a bit to be an NFL guard, as well as develop more technique when it comes to blocking in space. Oiland’s former position coach at Montana is now a scout for Houston, and a lot of the schemes that Oiland used are similar to those used by the Texans, which should give him an advantage when it comes to learning a new offense.
Two teammates from just up Highway 6 in Texas are Baylor outside linebackers Terrance Lloyd and Chris McAllister.
In case you missed it, the Texans did in fact draft a DE/OLB in the first round of the draft, but there’s always a need for pass rushing. These two guys will need to show off their willingness to excel at special teams and support their teammates if they hope to get on the Texans roster. Lloyd has a ton of athleticism but is raw when it comes to technique, he has the potential to develop into a solid pass rusher. McAllister has underrated speed and athleticism and will need to play his tail off to make the roster.