Houston Texans: Grading Each Pick Of The 2015 NFL Draft
1 (16): Kevin Johnson - CB, Wake Forest
Often considered the most fluid of the corners in this draft, Kevin Johnson should be an immediate starter opposite Johnathan Joseph. That will allow Kareem Jackson to stay inside, where he is more fit to play. Retaining Jackson, drafting Johnson, and signing former Bronco Rahim Moore gives the Texans' secondary a big boost after a tough 2014 season. The reason this grade is not an A is because Johnson is on the weaker side of corners and has mediocre top speed, so his ceiling is more limited than most first-round picks.
2 (11): Benardrick McKinney - ILB, Mississippi State
This was a fairly surprising pick, both because Eric Kendricks was often expected to go before Benardrick McKinney and that edge rusher was expected to be addressed early. However, this is still a fitting selection. McKinney possesses excellent size for the position and has adequate athleticism. He will have to improve a pass defender, but he has starting potential. He will likely play on earlier downs and gradually take more snaps on passing situations as the season progresses. With Brian Cushing never a given to be healthy and Mike Mohamed and Justin Tuggle unproven as anything more than role-players, this was a solid pick.
3 (6): Jaelen Strong - WR, Arizona State
Jaelen Strong was considered a first-round prospect by many, but while it is surprising that he fell this fall, I cannot say that it was not for good reason. Strong mustered a reputation for making big-time catches and overpowering corners. He also ran a 4.44 40 at the combine, shedding concerns about his top speed. Strong is not quite as adept at getting open though, lacking both technique and quickness within his routes, while he possesses only decent length for a receiver, at 6-foot-2. He has playmaking tendencies, but his physical traits make out to him being more of a possession receiver in the NFL, a reliable, down-to-down pass catcher. Strong does not play with that mentality though, which is why he fell this far. Simply put, he is a set of mismatched parts. Another thing people should consider when looking at this pick is the situation he went to. The Texans have an unproven quarterback in Ryan Mallett and their lone threat at receiver is DeAndre Hopkins, a guy who would be better complemented by speed. I cannot give this a C because Strong still has starting capabilities, but I do not see this as great pick. It is certainly a steal if you only consider where he was expected to go, but considering the prospect himself and the situation, this is just an above average pick.
5 (39): Keith Mumphery - WR, Michigan State
This was a bit of a reach for the Texans, as Keith Mumphery has a low ceiling. He has average size, at 6-foot and 215 pounds, but he is a very physical receiver that lacks NFL-caliber athleticism. His physicality as well as his overall effort should keep him on the team, but I do not see him making much of an impact on offense. He is unlikely to make his way into three-receiver sets even later in his career, so most of his snaps will likely be taken on special teams and to spell gassed receivers.
6 (35): Reshard Cliett - OLB, South Florida
Reshard Cliett has enough athleticism and talent to be a situational pass rusher. However, at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, he will get pushed around a bit and he does not possess all the necessary traits to be anything more than a role-player. This is a solid pick in the sixth round, but someone with a higher ceiling is often more preferable.
6 (40): Christian Covington - DT, Rice
A smaller guy at 6-foot-2 and 289 pounds, Christian Covington possesses good burst for an interior lineman, but he also has some power to him. With his physical traits, he can be a quality pass rusher as a down lineman for the Texans, but he has to better use those traits to his advantage. He will start out in a rotation with guys like Jared Crick and Jeoffrey Pagan, but he will begin to take more of the reps away on obvious passing situations. He has his ways to go before becoming a full-time starter, but he has the type of potential if he can overcome his small stature and a recent knee injury.
7 (18): Kenny Hilliard - RB, LSU
Kenny Hilliard lacks playmaking ability, but he has some solid attributes. He is unlikely to make much of an impact, but he has some value as a receiver out of the backfield and is a bigger back. Despite his former teammate Alfred Blue coming off of a rough rookie year, Hilliard will have a lot of trouble becoming the number two back.