So, what does that mean for the Texans? Here is a rundown of what a number of mocks are saying:
National Football Post’s Wes Bunting - Robert Ayers, DE Tennessee
NBC Sports - Vontae Davis, CB Illinois
Sporting News – Brian Cushing, LB USC
Lance Zierlein – Brian Cushing, LB USC
Todd McShay - Robert Ayers, DE Tennessee
Mel Kiper, Jr. – Brian Cushing, LB USC
John McClain - Clay Matthews III, LB USC
The Vontae Davis pick was made in early February, while the rest have been written about in the past month. McClain actually said the pick could come down to Matthews and Peria Jerry, the defensive tackle out of Ole' Miss. So, now that we know who the experts like, let's look at those players specifically.
Ayers: Only started two games before his senior season in 2008. Started nine games in 2008, recording three sacks. Has nine sacks in his career at Tennessee. Was considered a second-round pick before the combine, but has snuck into the first round since. Is one of the few 4-3 defensive ends at the top of the draft.
Davis: Stock has fallen faster than the Dow Jones since the combine. Did not run well and scouts are concerned about his overall athleticism. Is probably the fourth- or fifth-best cornerback in the draft.
Cushing: Played defensive end as a sophomore and started for the past three seasons. Came in as the safest linebacking prospect in the draft but has really fallen off in the workout phase of the scouting process. Was going through drills back to back with Aaron Curry at the combine and was not close to being as athletic or explosive. Fits better in the later parts of the first round.
Matthews: Son of long-time NFL player Clay Matthews, only became a starter three games into his senior season. Most scouts view him as a 3-4 outside linebacker, who can rush the passer and hold up against the run. His workouts have jumped him over teammate Cushing as the second-best OLB prospect.
All indications are that the Texans will go for a defensive player at the 15 spot in the first round. With what's going to be available there, however, I could see them trading down to a team who might want Sanchez if he slides or quarterback Josh Freeman, who seems to be jumping up draft boards lately. Another possibility is the Texans take Michael Crabtree, if he falls that far. I'm not sure he makes it past the 49ers at 10, but it's possible. Also possible is them drafting a banger like Beanie Wells or Knowshown Moreno, though I don't think they want to commit that kind of money to a running back.
If I had to guess right now, I'd say they trade down and take Cushing. If they stay put, I wouldn't be surprised at Clay Matthews being the pick or getting either Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin.