Texans add Troy Niklas. #KRM
Matt Borcas is back giving us the Texans’ pick during final week no less so this is a pretty major commitment honoring and also: pretty compelling logic behind this pick.
The NFL’s modern tight end craze began in earnest on April 23, 2010, when the Patriots drafted Rob Gronkowski in the second round and added Aaron Hernandez a day later in the fourth. Then-offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien proceeded to use them like weaponized drones in the middle of the field, and instantly the idea of lining up a big free-roaming pass-catcher (or two) at tight end became fetishized around the league. Enter Jimmy Graham, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, and a whole host of other middle round prospects turned fantasy studs. O’Brien owes his current job at least in part to successfully pioneering this concept in New England, and it’s reasonable to assume he’ll want the necessary personnel to run a similar style of offense in Houston.
Why? Let’s break this down with bullet points, because it’s finals week here in Columbus and my brain is more or less incapable of organizing thoughts in a coherent manner for the time being. (For a more detailed analysis on Houston’s situation heading into the draft, I encourage you to check out JPFTribe’s post here.)
- With Owen Daniels off to Oakland, tight end is one of the Texans’ few offensive needs. (Remember, Blake Bortles went first in the KRM.) Garrett Graham’s pretty clearly just a complementary piece, but even if O’Brien is really high on the guy, it’s not like he’s gonna be content with a tight end situation featuring Graham and some dude named Phillip Supernaw. (Ouachita Baptist’s own!)
- Say the Texans followed JPFTribe’s advice and did take Bortles first overall. Wouldn’t they then be more inclined to add a top tight end prospect with their next pick, feeling the need to surround him with capable weapons? Kind of like when the Colts drafted Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen immediately after taking Luck.
- To be sure, the Texans could also use a new right tackle, but tight end really drops off after the top four, of which only two remain in the KRM – Troy Niklas and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Thus, tight end takes precedence here. Bonus strategy tidbit: If you miss out on one of the select four, might as well wait and grab Colt Lyerla late. Then pray to God he doesn’t find a way to get suspended before training camp opens, which he almost certainly will. (For the record, the Browns should totally do this if Lyerla falls to the sixth round.)
- It really can’t be overstated how valuable it is to own one of these matchup nightmares. With even the slightest nudge being grounds for an illegal contact call these days, a 6-6, 270 lb. tight end is virtually unguardable. And again, O’Brien knows this better than anyone.
- While some may think no. 33 is too early for Niklas or Seferian-Jenkins, it’s worth remembering that everyone wants their own raw, athletic tight ends nowadays, so you’re gonna have to pay a premium to get one. The same thing’s happened with tall DBs – three years ago you could’ve probably landed Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the third or fourth round, but due to the Seahawks’ unprecedented success with Sherman, Chancellor et al., he’ll go in the second this year.
- I’m gonna slot Niklas to the Texans over Seferian-Jenkins because
- a) I watched every game of his college career and liked what I saw,
- b) say what you will about Notre Dame, but they produce top-flight tight ends on a staggeringly regular basis, and
- c) he just started playing the position in 2012, so the sky’s the limit.
Also, to reiterate, he’s 6-6, 270 lbs. and VERY physical. Read this and you’ll be convinced he’s the next Gronk.
See everyone at the Frowns draft party!
Just confirmed with @MapRoomBar we are on for the 4th annual Frowns NFL Draft Party Thurs May 8. More details to come.
— Cleveland Frowns (@ClevelandFrowns) April 19, 2014
Good luck in finals, sure you’ll do well, terrific job as always, and have fun at Frowns’ party. Next up it is:
ME! Kanick has the post written for Washington at #34 and it’s done and I’ll be publishing it tomorrow morning or earlier.
1. The sidebar poll at right reflects the top players on the board going into #35. Who do you like?
2. MGBode is giving us a two-parter for the Browns’ at #35. I’ve seen part one and it’s classic Sunday morning good read over coffee kinda like but not exactly like Gammons’ old baseball notes column.