It’s time for another draft show mailbag. As I mentioned last week, each Wednesday night for Texans All-Access, I devote the show to the upcoming NFL draft and take questions throughout the show. I don’t have near enough time to answer them all, so I’ll use this space to follow up with the ones I don’t get to on the show.
Q: @kinidiots - Mind comparing Obi Melifonwu (UConn safety) to that of
A: Sure. First and foremost, the three Texans were corners throughout their college careers at Alabama, South Carolina and Wake Forest, respectively. Melifonwu played safety throughout his career at UConn. Now, his length and speed could make him an intriguing cornerback candidate, but he’ll probably begin his career at safety. He’s 6-4, 224 lb. and would tower over the Texans cornerbacks. So, he’s built differently and didn’t play cornerback like that trio. But, he’s one heck of an athlete and ran in the same range as Jackson and a bit faster than Johnson at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. Quite simply, I’d like to see Melifonwu with those three here in Houston; that quartet would fit well together in the Texans secondary.
A: Give me some of that, Coach. Jenkins is a heat-seeking, 214 lb. missile. He loves to spend time around the box and impact the run. He finds the football and closes in a hurry. I saw him run down Florida State’s Dalvin Cook a couple of times when Cook appeared to have a step on the defense. Wow. Most of the big plays that I saw him make in 2016, in particular, were made against the run or after the ball was caught. His aggressiveness does get him in trouble, as he’ll take bad angles to the ball on occasion. Now, he’s not bad in coverage, but his strength is tracking ball carriers and making tackles. I don’t think he’s great in man coverage, but has some range when playing the middle of the field in zone. But, he’s a versatile chess piece with a future in this league for certain.
Q: @Paul - Does it make more sense to bring back Ryan Mallett than try to trade up to get a QB in a slim year?
A: As much as I love Big Tex, he’s found a home in Baltimore. I think it’s best for him to have moved on and the same can be said for the Texans. He re-signed with the Ravens to back up Joe Flacco and when asked to fill in for Flacco when he was injured in 2015, Mallett did a solid job, leading Baltimore to a win over the Steelers. The timing just didn’t work for Mallett and the Texans and that happens. It’s like that in any relationship; the timing is as important as anything else. Could it have worked later in his career, say like this year? Perhaps. Unfortunately, 2015 wasn’t that time.
Q: @Raul - Is Nathan Peterman a good quarterback?
A: Ask Tennessee Volunteers fans this question and they’ll have a much different answer than Pitt Panthers fans. Peterman didn’t get much opportunity with the Vols, but when he did, he completed less than 50 percent of his 43 passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He followed former Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to Pitt when Pat Narduzzi named Chaney his offensive coordinator. Chaney left after a year and Peterman was left to navigate new coordinator Matt Canada’s offense. He did that and then some. He finished the season with 27 touchdowns, including five in Pitt’s massive upset over Clemson in Death Valley. He doesn’t have a cannon arm and that holds him back from making certain throws that he might be asked to make at the next level. That said, he throws receivers open, has a quick release, is athletic on the run and has all the intangibles to be the leader of an NFL offense.
A: Salma definitely hits on the $64,000 question. I can see all three options as being viable because this team has the defense that it does. It might be Savage and I’d love to see what he could do as the leader of the team from the outset of the season. That said, the Texans have to kick the proverbial tires on any and everything at the quarterback position. Any potential rookies. Players in Canada. Guys that have retired. Free agents. Older quarterbacks that might be released in the future. Whatever it takes. If after that examination, they determine the course of action is to go with Savage, let’s roll. If they find an option not on the roster currently to be that guy, okay, let’s get it done. The more that I think about the situation, the more convinced I am that Savage is going to be the man and the team will draft a rookie at some point on draft weekend to potentially groom for the competition.
Look, NFL teams have found their quarterback solution in different ways. The Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson to back up free agent acquisition Matt Flynn in 2012. As such, Flynn never started a game in Seattle. We all know about Tom Brady in New England, but what would’ve happened had Drew Bledsoe never gotten smacked by Mo Lewis? Would he have ever gotten on the field? Aaron Rodgers was drafted in the first round and sat on the bench in Green Bay for three years. Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in the first round to sit and grow behind Tommy Maddox, yet started 13 games as a rookie and led Pittsburgh to 13 straight wins. Kurt Warner was bagging groceries four years before he led the Rams to a Super Bowl championship.
There’s no set way for teams to find a franchise quarterback but championship teams have eventually found that guy. It’s time for the Texans to find their guy.
Q: @twokstang - Do you think there’s any chance that we draft Jabrill Peppers?
A: Certainly. One of the things that the Texans defense does extremely well is move the chess pieces around the board better than most defenses in the NFL. What I mean by that is that the Texans expertly use the same players in different spots to execute different roles on a play-to-play, game-to-game basis. Peppers would absolutely be able to do just that. He can play so many different spots on the field that he could be a linebacker one play, a safety the next, a nickel corner on third down and the team’s punt returner on fourth down. The key for this defense is to execute as many different schemes with the same personnel in completely different roles and positions. As soon as a team checks in a specialized player, it tips off the opposing offense as to what’s coming. A guy like Peppers is the ultimate chess piece and that’s intriguing to new defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel and this defensive staff.