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2013 NFL Draft primer: Houston Texans

Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins runs a drill during

Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. (Feb. 24, 2013) Credit: AP

The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft kicks off April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 25th in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.


2012 record: 12-4

Key offseason acquisitions:

Ed Reed, safety

Shane Lechler, punter

Greg Jones, fullback

Key offseason departures:

Connor Barwin, linebacker

Glover Quin, safety

Shaun Cody, defensive tackle

Kevin Walter, wide receiver

James Casey, fullback/tight end

Bradie James, linebacker

Biggest holes in roster: Wide receiver, linebacker, defensive tackle, offensive tackle

For what seems like an eternity, the Texans have been called a "sleeper pick" in some capacity. In 2011, it was to make the playoffs. In 2012, it was to win the Super Bowl. At some point, they're going to have to shed that moniker and be viewed as a legitimate contender.

They can start with a good draft. Even after signing ex-Ravens ball-hawk Ed Reed, the Texans need to replenish their seventh-ranked defense and make a few tweaks on offense. There's enough depth at this stage in the draft that they could go either way at no. 27.

The most glaring need is at wideout. With Kevin Walter joining AFC South rival Tennessee, Houston needs someone to take some attention off Andre Johnson. If they go receiver, Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins could hear his name called here. Hopkins set an ACC record in 2012 with 18 receiving touchdowns and holds the school record with 12 100-yard receiving games. The player fans call "Nuke" has great hands, good height (6-1) and explosive speed (4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine). He was a consistent producer with the Tigers and projects well at the next level.

The Texans could also use a nose tackle to replace Shaun Cody. There are a few people that fit the bill this late in the draft -- Alabama's Jesse Williams, UNC's Sylvester Williams and Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins. They're all big-bodied run-stuffers with good size and strength. The Texans could take any one of those three, but Jesse Williams might be the best fit. He is the most versatile of the group, playing both nose tackle and end at Alabama. That could come in handy in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, where linemen are constantly lining up in different positions.

Right tackle was a revolving door last season after Eric Winston was cut during the 2012 offseason, so the Texans could take someone to solidify that spot. FSU's Menelik Watson could be the long-term solution if he slides this far. Watson is a project given his lack of experience, but he's had good workouts this offseason and his measurables (6-5, 310 pounds) are perfect for the position. He could be a truly dominant force on the offensive line with the proper coaching.

The Texans could also use an inside linebacker to pair with Brian Cushing. Kansas State's Arthur Brown, if he's still around, could be the pick. He's a bit undersized at 6-foot and 241 pounds, but he's got a nose for the ball and is a solid wrap-up tackler. LSU's Kevin Minter might also be a possibility.

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