The Houston Texans selected eight players in the 2012 NFL Draft, focusing heavily on adding depth to the offensive line and the wide receiver position. While many expected the Texans to go with a wide receiver in the 1st round, they chose to go with Whitney Mercilus, a favorite of Texans coaches and scouts and a player who will no doubt add even more ferocity to the pass rush.
Whether that was the right choice remains to be seen, but one thing we know for sure is that at least one of these rookies will have an immediate impact on the team in 2012, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But who?
The Texans took two wide receivers, Devier Posey in the 3rd round and Keshawn Martin in the 4th round, sandwiched by two interior offensive linemen. While guard Brandon Brooks has a chance to see the field as a starter if he can beat out Antoine Caldwell for the starting spot, Ben Jones will likely provide depth and come off the bench in his rookie season.
Brooks definitely has a lot of talent, but I suspect that the Texans will go with the more experienced player in Antoine Caldwell, at least to start off the season. Brooks (346 lbs), has struggled to keep his weight down, drawing the ire of head coach Gary Kubiak on at least one occasion. The Texans typically don’t go for the mauler-type of guard, preferring that their interior linemen be athletic and efficient in their blocking assignments. Caldwell, being the veteran, naturally has the inside track in that regard.
There is, however, an opportunity for a young Texans’ wide receiver to make an immediate impact on the team, and it may not be who you think.
First Shall Be Last?
Although Devier Posey was the higher selection, he’s stuck behind Kevin Walter on the depth chart in the meantime as he continues to improve and mature as a player. Keshawn Martin, on the other hand, brings something to the table that no other wide out on the roster does.
Martin (5’11” 190 lbs) is about as versatile of a wide receiver as you’ll find. During his four year career at Michigan State, Martin scored in a variety of ways, including 10 receptions, 3 rushing, 2 punt returns, 1 kick return, and 1 passing. With his blazing speed and lightning fast quickness, Martin was used on end-arounds, swing passes and screens.
Martin is the ideal slot receiver, something the Texans’ offense has been lacking for several years. The closest thing they ever had to one was David Anderson, the seldom used fifth string receiver who made the team consistently due to his tough work ethic. Martin is the far superior athlete, registering a 39.5” vertical leap and a 4.45 second 40 yard dash at the combine.
With Martin in the fold, the Texans will have the ability to bring him across the field on crossing routes off of those patented play-action bootlegs, sucking the defense in and creating holes in the middle of the field. A player of Martin’s speed should be able to take advantage, and if he gets into open space, watch out! He has the game breaking ability to take it the distance on any given play.
Martin will also contribute immediately on special teams, an area the Texans could stand to improve upon. It remains to be seen whether he will return kicks, punts, or both. Safety Danieal Manning will not be returning kicks again this season, though, which would seemingly pave the way for Keshawn Martin to take over those duties.
Although Devier Posey may prove me wrong down the road, I don’t see him as an immediate impact player for the Houston Texans. He will provide youth and depth to the Texans, which is much needed, but Keshawn Martin is definitely the guy to keep your eye on as training camp and the preseason approaches.
If Martin can be anywhere near as versatile for the Texans as he was during his career at Michigan State, he could be in line for a big time year, and could perhaps provide a revelation for the Texans’ coaching staff. The value of a good slot receiver cannot be overstated, and the Texans finally look to have themselves one.