Sean Pendergast

Setting Expectations For Each Houston Texans Fourth and Fifth Year Player

They say that one of the silliest things that we do in covering football is applying letter grades to draft classes the week after the players are selected (and several months before they've even played their first snaps). Logically, I agree with this. However, logically, I also agree with the right that websites have to earn revenue via folks clicking on and reading their articles, so it is what it is.

Now, when a draft class is heading into its fourth or fifth season, then grades are perfectly logical, and if we are assessing the Houston Texans' soon-to-be fourth and fifth year players, the success of the now defunct Rick Smith Regime in stocking the roster in those two classes is shaky, at best, and grounds for termination, at worst. (The new power construct over on Kirby would seem to be an indicator of the letter grade Bob McNair would give these two classes.)

The degree to which the Texans' 2014 and 2015 draft/undrafted free agent classes can help the team succeed in 2018 largely rests on three things — the health of Jadeveon Clowney, the psychological reclamation of Kevin Johnson, and whatever it is that Bernardrick McKinney does at a high level. Add into that mix that Johnson is a constant health concern, as well, and you can see a few reasons why, for an AFC contender, the Texans have a bit of a shaky roster foundation.

As we've done for the younger draft classes, as well as the free agency pickups from March and April, let's set floor and ceiling expectations for the crucial 2014 and 2015 draft classes. Given the presence of Clowney and Johnson here, I feel the need to mention that these floors and ceilings that I'm applying are BARRING INJURIES. These assume relatively good health for all involved. (I do this because injuries are a fairly obvious "worst case" scenario for any player, and I don't want to be obvious. I owe you more than that for reading.)

JADEVEON CLOWNEY, DE/OLB, 1st round (2014)
 All-Pro consideration
WORST CASE: Another season where "double digit sack guy" is complaining about Clowney

ALFRED BLUE, RB, 6th round (2014)
BEST CASE: A somewhat depressing choice as the third RB behind Miller and Foreman
WORST CASE: Released

JAY PROSCH, FB, 6th round (2014)
BEST CASE: Occasional touches, occasional reps as a blocker, and hopefully quiet special teams play
WORST CASE: Not that much lower than the BEST CASE

ANDRE HAL, S, 7th round (2014)
BEST CASE: 16 game starter at safety
WORST CASE: Passed over by Justin Reid as starter and put into back end of secondary rotation

KEVIN JOHNSON, CB, 1st round (2015)
BEST CASE: The "old" Kevin Johnson from 2016, pre-injury, returns
WORST CASE: 2017 was real, and his fifth year option gets torn up

BERNARDRICK McKINNEY, ILB, 2nd round (2015)
BEST CASE: Somewhere between 2015 Brian Cushing and 2011 Brian Cushing
WORST CASE: 2014 Brian Cushing

CHRISTIAN COVINGTON, DE, 6th round (2015)
BEST CASE: Solid starting defensive end, with occasional splash plays
WORST CASE: Rotation body on the defensive line

KURTIS DRUMMOND, S, undrafted (2015)
BEST CASE: Nabs one of the fine roster spots as a special teamer
WORST CASE: Released

KENDALL LAMM, T, undrafted (2015)
BEST CASE: Nabs one of the final roster spots as a backup tackle (and we all pray for health for the starters)
WORST CASE: Released

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast