After adding eight players in the 2012 NFL Draft last weekend, the Texans agreed to terms with 21 undrafted college free agents.
None of the signings are yet official, but among the most notable names are University of Houston quarterback Case Keenum, North Carolina wide receiver Dwight Jones and Oregon safety Eddie Pleasant.
“There were a couple of guys that we had draftable grades on,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said Tuesday in an . “The young man from Oregon, the safety (Pleasant), we even contemplated drafting him. There’s a nose tackle from BYU (Loni Fangupo) that we had really good grades on. The wide receiver from North Carolina (Jones). There’s some guys in this mix. Obviously, we took a quarterback that’s not too far from here (Keenum). So we have a group of players that we really felt great about. They will bolster that competition (on the roster).”
Pleasant (5-10, 211) was a two-year starter at Oregon. He began his career as a linebacker and emergency running back and finished it with All-Pac 12 first-team honors in 2011. He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash, had 22 bench press reps of 225 pounds and had a 33.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Fangupo (6-1, 323) played at USC in 2009 and 2010 before transferring to BYU. A 26-year-old, he served a two-year Mormon mission in the Philippines after graduating from high school in 2004. Fangupo put up 36 reps in the bench press at the Combine, tied for the third-most of any player this year.
Jones (6-3, 226) was second-team All-ACC as a senior in 2011, when he had 85 catches for 1,196 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had 62 catches for 946 yards in 2010 as the top target for Texans quarterback T.J. Yates. Jones ran a 4.55 40 and had a 33-inch vertical jump at the Combine.
Keenum (6-0, 208) set the NCAA career records in passing yards (18,685), passing touchdowns (152) and completions (1,501) at Houston. He had a 37-14 record as a starter. Keenum earned a sixth year of eligibility for the Cougars after tearing his ACL against UCLA in 2010 in the third game of the season.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he followed Keenum closely at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and at a subsequent workout two weeks later at nearby U of H.
“I watched him progress from one workout to the next,” Kubiak said. “And then when we brought him in here, it was our local workout, had the rest of the league seen that workout, there’s no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t have been up there at the end of the draft. He worked out very well for me. Made adjustments during the workout when we asked him to do that. I just feel very fortunate to get him. I think he’s a talented young man. He’s very smart. He’s athletic, he can move, and that’s what we ask our guys to do.”
Signing undrafted free agents is a frenzied process that takes place immediately after the draft. Smith lauded the prep work done by the Texans’ front office.
“(Director of college scouting) Mike Maccagnan and the job he did with the college scouts was just incredible,” Smith said. “Then as the pro scouts and (director of pro personnel) Brian Gardner and his group came along, and obviously Gary (Kubiak) and the coaches, as they entered the process, I just thought the entire group did a tremendous job of working. That part of the draft can be chaotic, but I thought they did a great job of organizing it, between Mike and Chris Olsen, our vice president of football administration, of getting everything set up for that process. So the minute that the draft was over, when Mr. Irrelevant’s name was called, we got on that process.
“Because it was so organized, I really feel good about the group of college free agents that we signed.”
The Texans’ other undrafted free agents are wide receivers Mario Louis (Grambling) and Jerrell Jackson (Missouri), fullback Jason Ford (Illinois), running backs Davin Meggett (Maryland) and Jonathan Grimes (William Mary), inside linebackers Greg Williams (Pittsburgh) and Shawn Loiseau (Merrimack), outside linebackers Dalano Johnson (Bowie State) and D.J. Bryant (James Madison), safety Desmond Marrow (Toledo), tackle Nate Menkin (Mary Hardin-Baylor), guard Cody White (Illinois State), tight ends Phillip Supernaw (Ouachita Baptist) and Logan Brock (Texas Christian) and defensive ends David Hunter (Houston), Tracy Roberston (Baylor) and Rennie Moore (Clemson).