With the switch from last year’s 4-3 defense under former defensive coordinator, Frank Bush, to this year’s 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips, the Houston Texans need to add talent everywhere. Phillips needs to get the best defensive player available, no matter what the position. At the #11 spot where they are picking, it appeared that they were not going to be able to get an elite player in this draft and were going to have to settle for a lesser athlete, but that could all be changing now.
Phillips’ 3-4 scheme is different than most. His 3-4 nose tackles are smaller than most and his defensive ends are more of a hybrid player that combines the strength and size of a 3-4 DE with the speed and agility of a 4-3 DE.
Let’s look at the top defensive end prospects in this years’ draft.
Robert Quinn – Quinn can play 4-3 defensive end as well as 3-4 outside linebacker but is best suited to be a 4-3 DE.
Cameron Jordan – Jordan can play 3-4 or 4-3 defensive end however he best cast as a traditional 3-4 DE.
JJ Watt – Watt can play 3-4 or 4-3 defensive end and his skill-sets also suggest he would be best off being a traditional 3-4 DE.
Aldon Smith – Smith can play 4-3 defensive end as well as 3-4 outside linebacker. Smith would have the best chance of to flourish as a 4-3 DE.
Da’Quan Bowers – Bowers is capable of playing 4-3 or 3-4 DE or 3-4 outside linebacker and is the ideal Wade Phillips 3-4 defensive end.
Bowers was considered by most, including myself, as the #1 prospect in this draft for the past few months, until injury concerns arose. There are many in the NFL who are now concerned about his knee. Specifically, they are wondering if maybe Bowers’ knee surgery from January was a bit bigger of a deal than he and his people had initially let on. He did not work out at either the NFL combine or his Clemson’s original Pro Day. When he did finally work out, he was less than impressive and it appeared that he was still recovering from the “minor” surgery.
Game film doesn’t lie and has Bowers grading out as the best player in the draft, but it appears that teams are holding against him and that he tried to work out before he should. If I was the Texans and had this guy rated above everyone else, I would bring him in for a visit and give him a thorough check up. If my doctors told me that he would heal fine, then I wouldn’t hesitate to make this selection. It would be a blessing to get a top tier talent with the 11th pick. Imagine a defensive line with Mario Williams and a healthy Da’Quan Bowers, freeing up the path for DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing.