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).

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Texans release WR Jacoby Jones

The Texans released wide receiver Jacoby Jones on Tuesday.

The move came days after the Texans selected wide receivers from Ohio State and Michigan State in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, of the 2012 NFL Draft. Jones was rumored to be on the trading block during the draft.

“We’ve added a couple of receivers to our team,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday in his office at Reliant Stadium. “We’ve got a couple of kids that we think a lot of, being number one, and then also a lot of it’s about doing right Jacoby – our football team but doing right by him, too. [General manager] Rick [Smith] and I talked about it, and he’s handled himself with class.”

Jones, 27, started a career-high 10 games in 2011 with hobbled by hamstring injuries. He caught 31 passes for 512 yards (16.5 average) and two touchdowns, and he averaged 10.6 yards per punt return with a touchdown.

Jones was a scapegoat for many fans in Houston after fumbling a punt near the goal line in the Texans’ Divisional Round playoff loss at Baltimore.

“I think there’s way too much made out of that,” Kubiak said. “Andre missed 10 games last year and Jacoby was a starter in his absence and made a lot of plays for us, and Jacoby made a lot of special teams plays. We had many opportunities to win in Baltimore, and in this business, not one guy loses the game, not one guy wins the game. But it’s just a collective decision on where we’re heading with our young receivers, and also I feel like being very fair to Jacoby. That’s all this is about.”

A third-round draft pick out of Lane College in 2007, Jones started in 21 games in five seasons with the Texans. He had 127 catches for 1,741 yards (13.7 average) and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 10.2 yards on punt returns and 23.3 yards on kickoff returns and set a team record with four returns (three punt, one kickoff) for touchdowns.

Jones was plagued by fumbles on punt returns in his first three seasons and was in 2009. Kubiak kept Jones off the trip after he missed a Saturday morning team meeting, and the Texans wound up losing the game 23-18.

“We had a few rough patches early in his career with me, but he’s really grown up and done a good job,” Kubiak said. “To me, he’s been excellent the last couple of years. Played very well for us in Andre’s absence.

“We’ll move forward with our young players at receiver, and it’s a fair opportunity for Jacoby to go out there and get a fresh start somewhere else, and I’m sure he’ll go out and go a great job. I appreciate everything he did. Visited with him today, I wished him all the best and thanked him for everything he did for us.”


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2012 Path to the Draft: Defensive End


*This article is part of our 2012 Path to the Draft coverage presented by Warehouse Pool Supply

A position-by-position look at the 2012 NFL Draft (April 26-28), featuring exclusive analysis on potential Texans draft picks from and of the

Path to the Draft: | | | |

State of the Position ()
The Texans have two standout defensive ends in and , but they could add more depth at the position in the 2012 draft.

Smith, a team captain, made his first Pro Bowl in 2011 with a career-high 6.5 sacks. Watt, a first-round draft pick from Wisconsin, was a rookie sensation with 5.5 sacks, 56 tackles, a team-high 7.0 tackles for loss and four passes defensed. He also had 3.5 sacks and an interception return for a touchdown in the playoffs.

The only other defensive end on the roster at this point is . A three-year veteran out of Michigan, Jamison had 19 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble last season. The Texans have not re-signed veteran defensive end , who has been with the team since 2006.

National Football Post Analysis (, for HoustonTexans.com)

DAY 1 DEFENSIVE END OPTIONS AT 1.26

1. Michael Brockers, LSU (6-6, 306): Extremely athletic for his size, Brockers arrived at LSU as a 255-pound linebacker prospect who bulked up and eventually made the move to the defensive line, where he played 27 games over the last two years, notching two sacks. He might be a little raw and could have used some more work at the college level, but Brockers is an NFL talent with “plus” upside who can come in and play vs. the run at a high level right away. Should get looks at both the three and five-technique spots and in our minds has the ability to become one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL down the line.

2. Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (6-4, 295): Named second-team All-SEC in 2011, Cox recorded 56 tackles and five sacks for the Bulldogs last year and has been shooting up draft boards in recent weeks. We think his best spot might be as a 3-4 five technique (which fits Houston perfectly) who is able to penetrate and make plays off the ball. Cox is raw and needs to learn to play with his pad level lower. However, as a potential five-technique, he’s a guy who has the skill set to earn a starting role.

DAY 2 DEFENSIVE END OPTIONS AT 2.26 AND 3.13

1. Jared Crick, Nebraska (6-6, 285): After recording 19 sacks and 143 tackles over 28 games from 2009-2010, Crick’s production fell off last season after injuries limited him to just five games. He’s a tall, leaner defensive tackle/end with a long set of arms, but lacks ideal girth in the lower half. Crick is instinctive, gets off the snap count on time and does a nice job finding the football vs. the run. However, at 6-6, he struggles with his pad level.

2. Tyrone Crawford, Boise State (6-4, 276): Crawford racked up 13.5 sacks in 25 games at Boise State and forced a career-high three fumbles last season. He possesses good size for the position with a naturally longer set of arms. In addition, the 22-year-old coils up into his stance well, comes off the ball low and does a nice job extending his hands into contact as a run defender. We like his skill set and think he’s going to develop quickly at the next level. Crawford isn’t there yet, but as a prospect he has some real upside and displays the kind of blue-collar pass rushing mentality that we like.

DAY 3 DEFENSIVE ENDS OPTONS AT 4.4, 4.26, 5.26, 6.26 AND 7.26

1. Dominique Hamilton, Missouri (6-5, 305): A four-year contributor who played in 46 total games and is coming off a career-high three sacks in 2011, Hamilton is a tall, long-armed defensive tackle/end prospect with a thick but athletic-looking frame. He plays the run much stronger than his body type would indicate and he’s got a burst off the snap while playing with good leverage. Hamilton has the frame to add 15 to 20 pounds and looks like a 3-4 five-technique at the next level who could start.

2. Malik Jackson, Tennessee (6-5, 270): Jackson was a four-year contributor at Tennessee who appeared in 46 games and recorded a career-high 56 tackles in 2011. He displays impressive athletic ability and when he gets his hands up off the line. Jackson can consistently keep himself clean while working like a bear in pursuit. Showcases great range off his frame for the position and demonstrates a good motor to go along with it. He’s a great-looking athlete, but has some real work to do from a technique standpoint due to the fact he was playing out of position at Tennessee.