Boise State's Kyle Wilson is a projected first-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Texans organization. The article is part of our 2010 Path to the Draft coverage presented by FOX Sports Houston.
For the first time since the second season of the franchise, the Texans won't have Dunta Robinson manning a cornerback spot.
The 2004 first rounder signed a free agent deal with the Falcons, which means veteran Jacques Reeves and 2009 rookies Glover Quin and Brice McCain are the incumbents with the most playing time from last season.
Antwaun Molden and Fred Bennett are also coming back, but general manager Rick Smith said at the combine in late-February that it's important to draft a cornerback in 2010.
"Any time you lose a player like Dunta, who plays at the level that he plays, you've got to think about how you replace that," Smith said.
He was pleased with the contributions of Quin, Reeves and McCain, but also explained that the loss of Robinson means "you still are looking for impact players whenever you lose a player of his caliber."
Analysis from the National Football PostIn an exclusive for HoustonTexans.com, Wes Bunting and Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post examine the cornerbacks group as it relates to the Texans and the 2010 draft.
The loss of Robinson to free agency was a big blow to the Houston secondary. He started 79 games over the last six years and his departure leaves the Texans with little experience on the outside. Houston currently has the 24-year-old Quin and the 23-year-old McCain manning the starting cornerback spots. The problem here is that both players have just 13 combined starts between them. Even with Robinson, the Texans finished the 2009 season ranked 18th against the pass (217.9 yds/gm) and 20th in interceptions (14). Expect the team to target a cornerback early in this year's draft.
Here are some potential cornerback candidates who could land in Houston:
1. Kyle Wilson, Boise State: Wilson (5-10, 194) was a star for the 14-0 Broncos in 2009, amassing 42 stops (30 solo) and scoring two touchdowns on three interceptions. He showcases good flexibility and balance in press coverage and has the confidence to play up near the line and to get in the faces of opposing receivers. Wilson looks fluid when asked to turn his hips and run with his man and does a nice job of staying with receivers and forcing them to widen their downfield patterns toward the sideline. However, Wilson relies on his body control and quickness to mirror opponents off the line, but struggles getting his hands on receivers and doesn't consistently reroute his man.
2. Devin McCourty, Rutgers: A tackling machine who recorded 231 stops (146 solo), six interceptions and two touchdowns in his four years with the Scarlet Knights, McCourty (5-10, 193) will likely be drafted in the late-first to mid-second round range. He isn't afraid to play near the line of scrimmage and displays good physicality when asked to press receivers. McCourty possesses the length and body control to reroute receivers off the line, exhibits good speed as a straight-line athlete and has the ability to turn and run with receivers down the field. But at times, he gets overextended with his footwork, allowing opposing wideouts to easily side-step his bump and get into routes.
3. Kareem Jackson, Alabama: The one thing you have to love about this 22-year-old junior is that he's battle-tested. Jackson (5-10, 196) spent his Saturdays in college matching-up with the best wideouts the SEC has to offer. He's a coordinated athlete who possesses the body control to quickly adjust to throws. Jackson isn't consistently technically sound, but he finds a way to break on the pass. He displays a willingness to help out in the run game, reads his run/pass keys quickly and takes good angles in pursuit. He isn't overly physical on contact but is a solid wrap-up guy who can tackle in space.
4. Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest: Ghee is a gifted physical specimen (5-11, 192) who possesses a good-looking frame and generates impressive power on contact as a tackler. He tracks the ball well in pursuit with the closing speed to get after it in a hurry and breaks down well for his size in space, making him a solid open-field tackler. Ghee's an explosive, quick-twitch athlete who gets up to speed quickly and has the speed to consistently run with receivers downfield. However, he isn't technically sound with his footwork and struggles to sit into his stance and generate an initial burst when asked to click and close on plays underneath. He allows himself to get too upright and isn't compact or tight with his footwork.
SATURDAY SPECIAL (intriguing players likely to be drafted in rounds 4-7 of the draft):
1. Robert McClain, Connecticut: A physical tackler for his size (5-9, 196), McClain does a nice job breaking down in space and bringing his legs through contact and then wrapping up. He isn't afraid to stick his head into the action. However, he struggles to find the ball in the pass game and lacks awareness when his back is to the football. McClain struggles to redirect, cleanly change directions and maintain his balance. His feet can get overextended, and it takes him too long to recover and get back to up speed when trying to close on the ball. But he's a good athlete who has impressive initial burst and range. In addition, McClain showcases good body control and lateral quickness as a punt returner, and he has the ability to help out in all special teams packages.
2. Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt: A playmaker who intercepted ten passes in his last three seasons with the Commodores, Lewis is a tall (6-1, 203), long-armed corner who uses his length well to disrupt routes on all levels of the field. He showcases the ability to get into the frame of receivers, press off the line and possesses good instincts in man coverage. Lewis displays impressive coordination and has the ability to quickly adjust his body to the play and break up the pass. He showcases smooth initial footwork in his drop and sits into his stance well for a tall corner.