Phillips' defense taking shape in Houston

Posted April 29, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.
Posted By Arthur Arkush

The league's worst pass defense from a season ago took two major steps in the right direction in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.

With the 42nd overall pick, the Texans selected Arizona DE Brooks Reed. But don't worry; first-round DE J.J. Watt won't suddenly finally find himself in a competition with Reed. The former Wildcat projects as a rush outside linebacker — arguably Houston's greatest need heading into the draft.

And the Texans were not done in the second round. They traded their third- and fifth-round picks to the Patriots to move back into the second round to nab Miami (Fla.) CB Brandon Harris at pick No. 60.

That's right; the Texans addressed perhaps their two greatest needs within 11 picks of each other, going a long way toward piecing together the puzzle that is defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.

In Reed, the club gets itself a relentless 'backer who, paired with one of the Texans' best pass rushers in OLB Connor Barwin, should help generate the kind of pressure that Phillips' scheme requires.

Harris, PFW draft expert Nolan Nawrocki's third-ranked defensive back and a projected first-rounder, should help a Texans secondary that was victimized with alarming regularity last season.

"Harris possesses natural cover skills, a balanced skill set and a professional makeup that should enable him to become a solid, dependable starter," Nawrocki said in PFW's 2011 Draft Preview book.

Paired with 2010 first-rounder Kareem Jackson, the Texans now have two young, confident cornerbacks that should help solidify the Houston secondary for years to come.

Furthermore, if the club is comfortable enough to be extremely young at cornerback and makes Harris a starter alongside Jackson, CB Glover Quin is ready to make the transition to safety — another major need for the Texans.

It has been an impressive 48 hours for the Texans, who entered the draft with virtually every one of their questions coming on defense.

If these three rookies can come in and contribute right away as I suspect they can, the Texans' defense should be dramatically improved in 2011.