Miami's Jimmy Graham is a former basketball player with tremendous upside at the tight end position.
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.
Tight end is one of the Texans' deepest positions, but it's also the one that was most depleted by injury in 2009.
Three of the team's four tight ends are coming off of surgery: Pro Bowler Owen Daniels (ACL), top backup Joel Dreessen (shoulder) and 2009 rookie Anthony Hill (ACL). The only one not to have surgery was James Casey, another 2009 rookie.
Daniels, who was off to the best start of his career last season before getting injured in Week 8, should be ready for training camp. Hill, a fourth-round draft pick, is on a less clear-cut timeline because his injury happened late in the season.
While Daniels has been at Reliant Stadium all offseason for rehab, he remains unsigned and a restricted free agent. He didn't sign his tender with the Texans last year until mid-June, but he has said that he wants to avoid another holdout.
If Dreessen is healthy for mini-camp in May, he and Casey will be the only tight ends available to take reps. Unless, that is, the Texans add another one through free agency or the upcoming draft.
Analysis from the National Football Post
In an exclusive for HoustonTexans.com, Wes Bunting and Joe Fortenbaugh of of the National Football Post examine the quarterback group as it relates to the Texans and the 2010 draft.
When you've got a Pro Bowl wideout in Andre Johnson commanding opposing defenses' attention on a week-to-week basis, having a tight end that can catch the football over the middle or down the seam is an added bonus.
Let's take a look at some possible tight end targets for the Texans in next week's draft:
1. Dennis Pitta, BYU:Pitta (6-4, 245) is a tall, rangy tight end prospect who exhibits impressive body control in the pass game and does a great job adjusting to the throw and coming down with the tough catch. He possesses the body control to cleanly break down, get his head around and find the ball. Pitta looks natural using his big frame to gain a step on a defender initially vs. man coverage and extends his long arms well to pluck the ball. He showcases average speed downfield once he gets going, but he's very crafty, sells his routes well and can go up and high point the ball down the seam when needed. Pitta consistently allows his lower half to uncoil on contact and struggles to keep his base down through the play.
2. Jimmy Graham, Miami (Fla.):Graham (6-6, 260) is an impressive athlete who's a former basketball player at Miami. He showcases the ability to stride away from defenders in man coverage and knows how to high-point the ball. He's still raw as a blocker and is learning how to run routes. He isn't sharp or sudden, but has a skill set that could intrigue some teams as a potential developmental prospect. Graham posted the top combine 40-yard dash time among tight ends at February's combine, running an impressive 4.53. It will take time for to polish his game and become an NFL tight end, but the upside with this kid is tremendous.
3. Garrett Graham, Wisconsin: A bit undersized, Graham (6-3, 243) might assume more of an H-back role at the next level. He is quick out of his stance and uses his hands well to gain inside leverage into blocks. Exhibits good footwork through contact and possesses the coordination to shuffle his feet and stay on opposing linemen in pass protection. But he isn't a guy who can simply drive defensive ends off the ball in the run game. Lacks power in his upper body and can be turned into plays easily and overwhelmed at the point of attack. However, Graham showcases a second gear when he's asked to track the football down the field. While he isn't a great athlete, he plays faster than his 40-yard dash time (4.73).
4. Clay Harbor, Missouri State:A versatile athlete who can play tight end, fullback or H-back, Harbor (6-3, 243) caught 59 passes for 729 yards and four scores in 2009. The senior turned some heads at his March pro day when he posted 40-yard dash times of 4.58 and 4.69 seconds. Harbor is an adequate blocker but excels at getting vertical down the seam and stretching defenses. He's an athlete who can be moved around the offense in an effort to create mismatches in the passing game. A bit of an unknown, Harbor's got the upside to surprise some people at the next level.