Case Keenum, Eddie Pleasant among Texans’ notable UDFAs

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).

Twitter.com/NickScurfield

Texans Mock Draft Machine: Version 4.0

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A week away from the 2011 NFL Draft, we’ve updated our Texans Mock Draft Machine for the fourth time with projections from some of the most prominent mock drafts on the web.

Our Mock Machine surveys 16 mocks to project the top-10 picks in the draft. We leave the Texans’ pick at No. 11 up to a different expert each week. This week, that expert was Paul Kuharsky, the AFC South blogger for ESPN.com.

Our full methodology, including a link to each of the 16 surveyed mock drafts, can be found at the bottom of the page. Here are the results of our fourth Texans Mock Draft Machine:

Pick

Team

Player

Frequency

1

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Also receiving votes: Marcell Dareus (1), Patrick Peterson (1)

14 (88%)

2

Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama
Also receiving votes: Von Miller (2)

14 (88%)

 

 

 

3

Von Miller, LB, Texas AM

11 (69%)

 

 

Also receiving votes: Blaine Gabbert (3), Dareus (1), Newton (1)

 

4

A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Also receiving votes: Gabbert (2), Da’Quan Bowers (1), Nick Fairley (1), Peterson (1)

11 (69%)

 

 

 

5

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Also receiving votes: Miller (3), Quinn (2), Peterson (2)

9 (56%)

6

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
Also receiving votes: Green (6), Julio Jones (3), Fairley (1), Peterson (1)

5 (31%)

7

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Also receiving votes: Prince Amukamara (2), Gabbert (2), Quinn (1)

11 (69%)

8

Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Also receiving votes: Corey Liuget (1), Jake Locker (1), J.J. Watt (1)

13 (81%)

9

Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Also receiving votes: Watt (2), Anthony Castonzo (1), Cameron Jordan (1)

12 (75%)

 

 

 

10

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Also receiving votes: Quinn (2), Watt (2), Locker (1), Newton (1), Aldon Smith (1)

9 (56%)

The Texans’ pick (made by Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com):

11

Houston Texans

Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri

 

 

Kuharsky: “I think the Texans would be disappointed that Robert Quinn’s not around, but I think that’s a dream that they’re probably coming to terms with already that it’s not going to happen. Given this scenario, I think the most likely guy would be Aldon Smith… I’m intrigued, if they stay put at 11 and it pans out like this, by J.J. Watt. I think he’s a very, very good player and could be a very big value at that spot, but he wouldn’t be in the starting lineup for the Texans because he plays the same position as and in the 3-4. He would provide the Texans with great depth at defensive end, but is he an impact guy on opening day the way that they need? Probably not. And so I’m going need over best player available with Aldon Smith.”

Here’s who was picked for the Texans in our 16-mock survey: Quinn (5 votes), Prince Amukamara (4), Ryan Kerrigan (3), Smith (3) and Watt (1).

METHODOLOGY: We polled 16 mock drafts, tabulating how many times a player was picked for each of the top-10 teams in the draft. A player who got the most “votes,” as we call them, at each team was the pick. If a player was the leading vote-getter for more than one team, he went to the team where he had a higher number of votes. The other team received the player with the next-highest vote total.

All of the mocks used were the author/website’s most current mock as of April 21 at 9:30 a.m. CT.

The mock drafts in our survey: (ESPN.com – 4/6), (ESPN.com – 4/20), (SI.com – 4/13), (Pro Football Weekly – 4/15), (Pro Football Talk – 4/19), (NFL Draft Scout/CBS – 4/18), (NFL Draft Scout/CBS – 4/18), (Sporting News – 4/20), (4/7), (NFL.com – 4/12), (NFL.com – 4/11), (NFL.com – 4/18), (Houston Chronicle – 4/18), (View from the Sideline – 4/19), (4/19), (4/17).

Texans Mock Draft Machine: Version 1.0

With the 2011 NFL Draft less than six weeks away, mock draft season is in full bloom.

We’ve crunched the numbers on 15 different mocks from around the web to project the top-10 picks in the draft. We’ve also included a projection for the Texans’ pick at No. 11 overall, and then asked a guest expert for his pick considering who was available on our board.

A different expert will do the honors for the Texans’ pick each week. This week, it was Marc Vandermeer, the “Voice of the Texans” for SportsRadio 610 AM.

From the 15 mocks in our survey (full list below the table), we tabulated how many times a player was picked for each of the top 11 teams in the draft. A player who got the most “votes,” as we’ll call them, at each team was the pick. There were a couple of exceptions where a player was the top vote-getter for more than one team. That player went to the team where he had a higher number of votes, and the other team ended up with the player who had the next-highest number of votes.

Here are the results of our first-ever Texans Mock Draft Machine:

Pick

Team

Player

Frequency

1

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Also receiving votes: Cam Newton (33%), Marcell Dareus (13%), Patrick Peterson (13%)

40%

2

Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama
Also receiving votes: Da’Quan Bowers (20%), Nick Fairley (13%), Robert Quinn (13%)

53%

 

 

 

3

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

27%

 

 

Also receiving votes: Marcell Dareus (27%), Patrick Peterson (20%), Da’Quan Bowers (13%), Von Miller (7%), J.J. Watt (7%)

 

4

Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Also receiving votes: A.J. Green (33%), Blaine Gabbert (13%), Cam Newton (13%), Nick Fairley (7%), Julio Jones (7%), Patrick Peterson (7%)

20%

 

 

 

5

Von Miller, LB, Texas AM
Also receiving votes: Blaine Gabbert (27%), Da’Quan Bowers (7%)

67%

6

A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Also receiving votes: Da’Quan Bowers (20%), Marcell Dareus (7%), Nick Fairley (7%), Julio Jones (7%)

60%

7

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Also receiving votes: Von Miller (27%), Blaine Gabbert (13%), Robert Quinn (13%)

47%

8

Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Also receiving votes: Da’Quan Bowers (13%), Patrick Peterson (13%), Robert Quinn (13%)

60%

9

Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Also receiving votes: Tyron Smith (20%), Anthony Castonzo (13%), Cameron Jordan (7%), J.J. Watt (7%)

53%

 

 

 

10

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Also receiving votes: Prince Amukamara (13%), Cameron Jordan (13%), Aldon Smith (13%), Ryan Mallett (7%), Robert Quinn (7%), J.J. Watt (7%)

40%

11

Houston Texans

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
Also receiving votes: Prince Amukamara (20%), Cameron Jordan (13%), Brandon Harris (7%), Justin Houston (7%), Cory Liuget (7%), Aldon Smith (7%), J.J. Watt (7%)

29%

The pick from Marc Vandermeer of SportsRadio 610:

11

Houston Texans

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina

 

 

Vandermeer: “I hate to go with the chalk, but I have to. I know about the missed season, we know about the troubles, but the fact is that as an athletic prospect as far as what their needs are – and they need to get after the passer, they need people to fit the 3-4 coached by Wade Phillips – he fits that need. We have coming back from injury, and we don’t know what Connor’s going to look like; I’m looking forward to seeing how he is. But you definitely need depth and you need somebody to be a potential world-beater there, and maybe it’s Barwin, and maybe Quinn can do the same thing. And I don’t think they’re done picking at this position in the draft. I think there’s some insurance coming up later on in the draft, midway through – fourth/fifth round, maybe even earlier – but it’s a position of much need for them. We’ve talked about the secondary an awful lot this offseason and toward the latter half of last season, how it was such a concern… But I think the secondary’s going to look a whole lot better with a better pass rush… If I’ve got to go number one need here, it’s going to be Quinn. If (Prince) Amukamara does drop, it’s going to be pretty tempting to take him. They just took last year, though, and I think Wade Phillips feels like he can turn Kareem Jackson into a good player still. One year, you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You re-group with him, you get his confidence going again and you get him playing well. And again, he’s going to look better with a better pass rush. So I’ve got to go with Quinn, because he’s available, because it’s the most pressing need: Pressure on the passer.”

NOTE: All of the mocks in our survey were posted after the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Each was the author/website’s most current mock as of March 11 at 10 a.m. CT.

The mock drafts: Mel Kiper (ESPN.com), Don Banks (SI.com), Nolan Nawrocki (Pro Football Weekly), Evan Silva (Pro Football Talk), Chad Reuter (NFL Draft Scout/CBS), Rob Rang (NFL Draft Scout/CBS), Russ Lande (Sporting News), Wes Bunting (National Football Post), Pat Kirwan (NFL.com), Michael Lombardi (NFL.com), Steve Wyche (NFL.com), John McClain (Houston Chronicle), Lance Zierlein (Houston Chronicle), Walter Football, OurLads.com.