The Houston Texans landed a solid draft class and now, with mini camp upon us, the team is going to look for the rookies to make an impact on the 2012 season. In this segment we are looking at the Draft Class of the Texans and who will make the biggest impact on the 2012 season. Now we know it is early, but expect some contributions by this class.
Last season it was J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed and T.J. Yates who all proved to be big parts of the Texans' playoff run in 2011, and the Texans are looking for the same from this 2012 draft class. Rookies on any NFL team provide that fine balance for teams trying to find their identity as a team. If a team can get three to four rookies to contribute at an above average level, it makes them that much better during the season.
Looking at the eight players drafted by the Texans, we placed them in order of the potential impact they could have on this upcoming season.
The Early Analysis
Nick Mondek (8), Offensive Tackle
The offensive tackle seems to be more of a project player who could possibly be a practice squad player by the time camp breaks. With Duane Brown, Rashad Butler and Derek Newton ahead in the depth chart, it is tough to see where and if the snaps will come.
Jared Crick (7), Defensive End
Crick is also in the numbers game battle but there is little reason to think he will not be on the 53 man roster with him being a draft pick. The only issue is where is he going to play, especially with the log jam of defensive ends in front of him. He is technically replacing veteran Tim Bulman's spot on the roster and Bulman received limited snaps. Crick will have to impress to take snaps away from J.J. Watt,Antonio Smith and Tim Jamison.
Ben Jones (6), Center/Guard
The less we see of Jones the better, and that is not a shot at him as a football player. Jones will start down the line but with the depth on the interior of the offensive line, Jones will be the primary backup at center and both guard positions. If we don't see him then that means the offensive line is healthy and that is what we want after all the injury issues last season. Jones will be great depth for the Texans in 2012.
Brandon Brooks (5), Guard
When we revisit this list closer to the season, Brooks could definitely rise up this list if he can beat out Antoine Caldwell for the starting right guard position. Right now Brooks sits in the middle of our list. The right guard position could be locked down by Brooks for years to come and at his size, 6-5 and 346 lbs., Arian Foster could be loving life for a long time running behind Brooks.
DeVier Posey (4), Wide Receiver
Posey seems to be Head Coach Gary Kubiak's project and he has been tough on the rookie throughout OTAs. Posey looks the part and seems to have impressed with his early showing on the field, but the question comes to mind if he is an outside or slot receiver. With Kevin Walter as the #2 right now and Lestar Jean making some noise, Posey will have to prove during camp he deserves some offensive snaps.
Keshawn Martin (3), Wide Receiver/ Punt Returner
Right now Martin has the upper hand when it comes to the offensive rookies for the Texans and he will be on display in the return game. Martin could also create some matchup issues and line up in the slot and give the Texans their first real threat inside the numbers. Kubiak was impressed with Martin's showing in OTAs, calling his return skills automatic when catching the football.
Whitney Mercilus (2), Outside Linebacker
Even with Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed ahead of him on the depth chart, Mercilus will get plenty of snaps defensively for the Texans. Barwin and Reed took way too many snaps last season and by the end of the game both were gassed. Add Mercilus to Barwin and Reed, the Texans outside linebackers become even more dangerous with fresher legs coming off the edge.
Randy Bullock (1), Kicker
Easily the top rookie to make an impact for the Texans in 2012. How many games come down to a kicker's foot and leg with a field goal attempt? This season should be no different. Even though there is a kicker's competition going on with Shayne Graham, it is hard to imagine Bullock not being the man after the Texans used a 5th round pick on him. Bullock is going to be thrust into one of the most important roles on a NFL team, and he could be one of the main cogs to the Texans 2012 success.