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Voice of the Fan

EDITOR'S NOTE:Texans fan Alan J. Burge will continue to write a "Voice of the Fan" column throughout the 2005 season. His latest installment is below. Alan's views do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.
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That's a Wrap

After weeks and weeks of anticipation and endless debate and outright argument over which players would best fit the Houston Texans class of 2005, it's over. Just like that.

I don't know about anyone else but 16 hours of watching ESPN is about my limit. Just think about the teams that work the entire off-season scouting players just to have it all come down to one long but action packed weekend. The pressure and intensity of these things never ceases to amaze me. Now that it's over, I'd say that a good night's sleep is in order for everyone.

The draft is an incredibly exciting time. It's a time when the seeds of the future are sown. It gives the team a chance to fill holes and build depth. It gives the fans a reason to party in the middle of the off-season.

Speaking of party, the Texans threw a good one on Saturday at Reliant Stadium. Thousands of Texans fans gathered in the early morning hours to participate in the Running of the Bulls 5K run. Others, including the Blue Crew and FILO tailgaters, set up in their little corner of heaven in the Blue Lot for an off-season tailgate. The Bull Pen Pep Band joined the festivities in the parking lot and later entertained the crowd inside the West Club at Reliant along with the 2005 class of Texans cheerleaders.

The Texans first round selection at No. 13 was their lowest first round pick ever, meaning that fans had to wait almost three hours to hear the name of the first new Texans player to be selected this year.

Then as some predicted, the Texans traded down a few spots to 16, picking up New Orleans' third round pick next year in the exchange.

Then, as almost no one predicted, the Texans and GM Charley Casserly continued a trend of draft day surprises by selecting Florida State defensive tackle Travis Johnson with their first pick in the draft.

This pick was upsetting to some; especially Longhorns fans who saw the Texans select TJ while one of their favorites, linebacker Derrick Johnson was on the board at 13.

While the frustration is understandable, I'll offer up a few words from Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice who said in his Sunday column that "one of the easiest things for a young organization is to do what's popular instead of what's right." Selecting DJ would certainly have been the popular choice for many. Only time will tell if it was the right choice.

The Longhorns' Johnson had been touted by many as a classic weakside outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, or the weakside inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, With the Texans recently signing Morlon Greenwood to play the weakside inside position formerly held by Jamie Sharper, it made it less likely that DJ would be a target of the Texans on draft day. Obviously the Texans didn't think DJ was the right fit or they would have selected him.

Let none of this take away from Travis Johnson who was one of the best, if not the best interior defensive linemen in this draft class. TJ was the first defensive lineman taken and despite some baggage, he should be an excellent addition to the Texans front three where age and injuries, not to mention lack of quarterback pressure are major concerns, According to Capers, TJ has an excellent combination of size, speed, and athleticism and will play right away in nickel (pass rush) rotations. The Texans defensive line got a lot better on Saturday, it just came as a bit of a surprise since all of the free agent defensive linemen, including Seth Payne, Jerry DeLoach, and Corey Sears were re-signed several weeks ago,

The Texans didn't have a second round pick in this draft, having traded it to the Raiders for cornerback Phillip Buchanon last week. You can think of Buchanon as this year's second rounder and since he was the 17th player taken overall in the 2002 draft, I'd say that's a pretty good second rounder.

In the third round, the Texans improved their running back situation by selecting Oklahoma State product Vernand Morency. Morency is very similar to Domanick Davis in size and running style. He is a shifty between-the-tackles cutback style runner with a good burst who will fit in perfectly in the Texans backfield. Morency will provide good competition and much needed insurance in case of injury to Domanick.

In the fourth round, the Texans made what could be their best pick of the draft by selecting Hampton wide receiver Jerome Mathis. Even though he comes from a small program, Mathis is a highly rated wide receiver and was projected by some to go as early as the second round. Mathis has world class speed and will compete with Corey Bradford at the second WR spot opposite Andre Johnson.

In the fifth round, the Texans drafted their first pure center ever in Arizona State standout Drew Hodgdon. Hodgdon requires development but he should be able to compete with Todd Washington immediately for the backup center position.

To close out the draft the Texans selected Ragin' Cajun safety Ceandris Brown in the sixth round and linebacker Kenneth Pettway from Grambling. Brown and Pettway have good size and can take solace in the fact that several Texans players, including Petey Faggins, Charlie Anderson, Robaire Smith, DaShon Polk, and Billy Miller were all sixth or seventh-round selections.

Even though your favorite player or players may not be wearing Deep Steel Blue, this was a very good draft by the Texans. Travis Johnson will play right away and Morency and Mathis will be in the mix as top backups. Hodgdon looks like a solid prospect to eventually take over the center position and either Brown or Pettway could surprise. Many fans will continue to call for competition at the left tackle position.  The chips didn't fall that way in this draft but it's still a long time until training camp and as we know by now, anything can happen by then.

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