The Houston Texans began their draft prep early this week, interviewing LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu on Wednesday. It’s not unusual for teams to start working players out a month before the draft, but Mathieu was a name that surprised a lot of fans now that general manager Rick Smith has shown interest in him – even though we’re not 100 percent certain why the Texans are looking at him.
Dec 3, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (7) prior to kickoff of a game against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Just quickly, Mathieu offers the defense a bit of both. Of course he comes with a world of off the field troubles, but Mathieu has done well to sell his skill set to scouts through March, and it appears his diminutive hasn’t held anyone back from taking a look at him. Mathieu is pretty small at 5’9, but he won’t shy away from a big play and a big hit – leaving him as a work in progress for any team willing to spend a third or fourth round pick on him.
Should the Texans consider choosing elsewhere with their late round picks though, not all will be lost. Just because Mathieu has come in for a visit doesn’t mean the team are sold on him. And with the amount of class at the cornerback position in this years prospects, it’s hard to make an argument as to why the Texans should settle for Mathieu at all, and not go for a more polished guy.
Here’s a look at who else Rick Smith might bring in next:
D.J. Hayden – Houston
There’s been a lot of shifting at cornerback recently for the Texans, so it would be nice to bring in someone that is the complete package and can takeover if guys like Brice McCain or Johnathan Joseph are hurt again. Houston’s D.J. Hayden is close to that, even though he lacks some strength which could be gained in the weight room. On the plus, he’s fast, and also meets the ball carrier well with speed. There’s no problem with tackling for Hayden either, as his 311/8 inch arms constantly wrap up running backs on film. In the air, some would think Hayden would struggle at 5’11, but instead he is capable of following wide receivers down the sidelines, and could also possess the ability to strip the ball from them in short yardage fights. Taking a hometown guy like Hayden is also a big plus.
Jordan Poyer – Oregon State
Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph and Brice McCain are all under 5’11, leaving the Texans with no tall timber at the corner spot. Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer stands at 6’0 191 pounds, and is a projected late second to early third round pick in April – but he could fall further.
Poyer had seven interceptions in 2012 and recorded a hat trick of picks against Washington State, but there’s some concern surrounding his run defense, and he can be guilty of sloppy arm tackles on occasion. If the Texans grabbed him, Poyer probably wouldn’t see much of the field for a year or two. What he does possess though is some agility for such a big guy, as he moves his hips well to stay in sync with receivers. If Wade Phillips could fix his tackling and arm strength, his size could become a real physical threat when stopping the run. Plus, there’s also some potential on special teams.
David Amerson – North Carolina State
I’ve said this before, but the Texans’ biggest priority this offseason has to be maintaining their seventh rank rush defense. Houston’s defense also sacked quarterbacks 44 times in 2012, so expect the Texans to take a look at a guy who can tackle, wrap up and be aggressive on blitzes. David Amerson is a projected third round pick, and plays receivers tight in zone coverage. At times last season Amerson was beaten by receivers, and looked ugly against Miami after three straight interceptions in games before. Amerson is capable of many big hits, but scouts say he needs work on his fundamentals. If the Texans simply want someone that can slam running backs, force bad passes and challenge blockers though, Amerson is up for the job.
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