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Position Preview: Defensive Backs

Heading into this weekend the Texans would like nothing more than to add to their secondary. While much of the depth chart from a year ago remains, the Texans would love to add a young playmaker to their back end to compliment DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams.

This is a good year to be looking for help in the secondary as defensive back is one of the deepest positions in the 2007 NFL Draft.

The Crème of the Crop

Laron Landry (S, 6-0, 213), Leon Hall (CB, 5-11, 193), Reggie Nelson (S, 5-11, 198), Chris Houston (CB, 5-9, 185)

Landry will likely be the first defensive back taken in this year's draft. His stock was soaring after completing his senior season at LSU. None of his workouts leading up to the draft have hurt his value and a 4.35 time in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine very well could have vaulted him into the top-five picks on Saturday.

However, a top-five selection for a player slated to play safety in the NFL would be unprecedented so look for Landry to come off the board between picks six and nine.

The Texans would love to add Landry's elite combination of speed and instincts to their secondary, but it's highly unlikely he will be available at 10.

Hall should be available at 10 if the Texans feel they need to add a cornerback to the fold. Some doubted Hall's top-end speed, but a 4.38 in the 40 at the combine squashed some of those doubts.

Hall is a polished corner, who would challenge for a starting position on any NFL team immediately. He's strong in man coverage, which is a must in the Texans scheme, but Hall has struggled at times with elite receivers at the college level.

Nelson's size have some projecting him as a cornerback rather than free safety, which he played in college. Nelson's ball skills may be the best of this bunch and he could add punt return to his list of duties for his team this fall.

Nelson was the anchor of a Florida defense that was one of the nation's finest in 2006, but his responsibilities both as a vocal leader and in coverage were not as complex in Gainesville as to what he can expect in the NFL.

Those concerns could allow Nelson to slip into the 20's, making him a potential steel late in the first round.

Chris Houston is a little under the radar, but his performance against USC, namely Dwayne Jarrett, at the beginning of the 2006 collegiate season was a memorable one. Hall struggled to keep up with Jarrett in the Rose Bowl when Michigan faced the Trojans, but Houston performed admirably against Jarrett in Fayetteville leaving some to wonder why Hall would be ranked ahead of Houston.

Houston's size and playmaking abilities will make it hard for him to slip out of the first round and he should challenge for a starting position his first day in an NFL camp.

The Best of the Rest

Darrelle Revis (CB, 5-11, 204), Aaron Ross (CB, 6-0, 193), (Michael Griffin S, 5-11, 202), (Brandon Meriweather S, 5-10, 195)

Revis and Ross are both first round talents that could easily be selected before Houston. Their mesaurables jump off the page, but neither plays as fast as his 40 time would indicate.

While both played in BCS conferences during their college careers, neither had to play against elite talent at the receiver position like Houston did in the SEC.

Both will challenge for starting positions in the NFL immediately, but if either goes before late in the first round, it's a bit of a reach.

Griffen is known by most college football fans for his contributions to the Texas National Championship in 2005. His senior season was not too shabby either.

Griffen is good and space, but can over pursue at times and if asked to play in the box on a regular basis in the NFL, he could struggle if he doesn't bulk up.

However, he too could likely be inserted into a starting lineup for a team in desperate need of a playmaking safety. He should be available in round two depending on where Nelson is selected.

Meriweather is the most intriguing of these prospects. His talent is unquestioned, but his character is still very much in doubt. He played corner back for much of 2006 for Miami, but could be special at safety in the NFL thanks to his ability to play the ball in the air.

He is a classic high risk, high reward type player and will likely last to the second or even third round because many teams have taken him of their board entirely.

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