It is that time of year where the Houston Texans have to make some tough decisions regarding personnel for the 53-man roster. The Texans' scouting staff have put together a solid rookie class but the UDFA class will be the talk of the early part of the 2013 season.
There are confirmed reports that the Texans will be keeping FOUR undrafted rookies heading into week one of the season. Cierre Wood, Willie Jefferson, A.J. Bouye and Justin Tuggle have all taken their roster spots on the team, which should come as little surprise the way they performed since the opening of training camp. Bringing them into the season will lead to more moves where veterans from last season could be looking for new jobs, but not in Houston.
We focused on some rookies coming out of Rookie Mini Camp and all four names were on the list.
Probably the one player where it took all four preseason games to take the 3rd running back spot, Wood showed why he had the best upside of the young group. His running style is perfect for this offense, the one cut and get upfield style. There was talk that the 3rd running back spot was about the best special teams player, but it came down to what Wood could be in the coming seasons. He has room to add weight and with Ben Tate in a contract year Wood fits the mold of being a backup NFL running back or more. He is an NFL ready running back now and he will only get better. Special teams contribution is nice but finding a runner like Wood for the future was the deciding factor.
Bouye started rookie mini camp in late May on another level and he showed it during OTAs and training camp. We talked to Bouye during rookie mini camp and he showed that he had the right attitude for the upcoming stretch to make the team. His frame at 6-0 makes him slated to be a nice boundary cornerback and he will have time to develop behind the veterans on the group. Expect Bouye to be thrown in on special teams from the beginning as he showed during preseason that he is a good gunner on punt team. He understands the position and his technique is impressive for a rookie at cornerback and it has only gotten better every day he was on the field. Bouye made an impression since day one and made it count when roster cuts came.
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Another Texans rookie that got his chance to produce at training camp due to injuries in front of him. He started the first two preseason games at outside linebacker, then in the last game he was moved to inside linebacker. Tuggle has done what the coaches have asked of him and throw in some good hits on special teams, the team kept a good football player. Where he ends up position wise will still be decided but Tuggle is an impressive story. He was a quarterback at Boston College but then left after his freshman year to Blinn Junior College. There he took over for the departed Cam Newton and played quarterback for the Bucs. He went to Kansas State his junior season and realized that he would have no chance to play quarterback with Collin Klein putting together the seasons he was for the Wildcats. He asked Coach Bill Snyder to move to defense halfway through his junior season and he was a key piece for the Wildcat defense for 1 1/2 seasons.
With little defensive experience, Tuggle turned his time with the Texans into a spot on the final roster.
The long legged ex-wide receiver made the most noise of the undrafted rookies coming out of training camp. Jefferson is so raw but he opened eyes on the last day of rookie mini camp when he made a J.J. Watt like interception on Case Keenum for a touchdown. Jefferson put himself on the map and really made the best impression in one on one drills of pass protection. He worked Duane Brown and gave him trouble with his speed rush, and that was the deciding factor. With little edge presence, Jefferson is a welcomed sight for a pass rush deficient defensive unit. He will be used on special teams and spot pass rush spots but all he has to do is be disruptive when he gets in there.