The NFL's 32nd franchise began building the foundation for its first season in the NFL in Monday's expansion draft. ESPN.com had the draft covered from the first pick to the last pick with analysis from senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli. We also took some time to answer a few user questions.
Moderator: Let's start off with a question from Chris Paul in Minneapolis, Minn. ... Considering this is a different group of players than in any other expansion draft, how quickly can Capers and company get this team to a competitive (and sustainable) level?
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Based on who they end up with at quarterback, I think the Texans could win 5-6 games in their debut season. But everyone should remember that people thought the Browns would be the best expansion team ever and they were far from it. Houston should be more competitive on defense than offense.
||Tony Boselli, OT, Jacksonville
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: One Houston scout termed him "the Noah's Ark of medical dossiers" because it seems Boselli gets injuries in pairs. Two shoulder surgeries in 2001, two bad knees, a couple of bad ankles. But he's too hard to pass because, if healthy, Boselli still rates among the top three or four left tackles in the game. And from a leadership standpoint, he's the consummate cornerstone for a new franchise. Plus his cap price recently dropped from about $8.9 million to $6.88 million. Still steep, sure, but worth the gamble.
Moderator: With Boselli headed to Houston, lets take a question on him. Brian Johnson from Springfield, Va., wants to know ... Is Tony Boselli really completely healthy? And even if he seems to be, is he worth the risk?
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: No, he's not completely healthy yet. But after an extensive physical two weeks ago, Houston officials are convinced he'll be healthy by the start of the season. Admittedly he's a gamble, but if healthy he's still one of the four best left tackles in the league. The Texans also covet his leadership skills.
||Ryan Young, OL, N.Y. Jets
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: In terms of bang for the buck, perhaps even a
better choice than Boselli. He has started 39 games the last 2 ½ seasons
(four more than Boselli in the past three years) and missed but one outing
since taking over the starting job at right tackle at mid-season 1999. At
age 25, he is just coming into his own now. Young
really comes strong off the ball and, while his pass-blocking still needs
improvement, he's a "comer." A perfect complement to Boselli and will learn
much from the veteran.Tough for the Jets to sacrifice him, but they feel
that 2001 third-rounder Kareem McKenzie can step in and start in 2002. With
a price tag of $563,000, the steal of the expansion draft.
||Aaron Glenn, CB, Jets
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: What he lacks in size, Glenn compensates for
with great anticipation and burst to the ball. An excellent man-to-man
defender who will struggle at times in the "red zone" against the more
physical wideouts in the league. Played at a Pro Bow level in '01,
especially after the New York coaches switched to a "cover three" scheme
about a month into the season. Had five interceptions in 2001 and totals 24
for his career. Carries a huge cap number ($8.013 million), but the Texans
will sign him to a new three-year deal in coming months and lower that
Moderator: With two straight players from the Jets getting drafted, let's take a New York question. JefF Rogers from Los Altos, Calif., asks ...If the Jets are able to clear $14MM in cap room through the expansion draft, does that mean that they are likely to sign Farrior, Fabini and Thomas to new deals? Also, I had projected that they would take a DT in the draft, but now are they more likely to go with a CB?
Mark Cannizzaro, ESPN.com NFL writer: My early indication is that they are going to resign Fabini, who they may name their transition player for now. Farrior is moving slowly, but that doesn't mean they won't resign him. I think they could take either a cornerback or defensive tackle in the draft to be honest. I think they will address cornerback in the draft, it's just a question of how early.
||Gary Walker, DT, Jacksonville
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: His cap number is a little steep ($5.25
million), but the seven-year veteran brings some inside push to the defense
and played the 1999-2000 seasons in the Dom Capers system. Remember, Capers
was defensive coordinator for the Jaguars at the time and he got terrific
results from Walker. The former Auburn standout is an active interior player
and he will be, at least for now, the top sack man on the Houston roster.
||Jamie Sharper, LB, Baltimore
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Played the weakside spot for the Ravens, but
not really an explosive upfield sack threat, so will move inside on the
Houston defense. Has averaged over 90 tackles per season, moves well to the
ball, plays with nice awareness. A decent defender dropping into coverage
and probably will stay on the field in "nickel" situations. Like Boselli, he
will bring much leadership and the Super Bowl XXXV ring he earned with the
Ravens will be a symbol of where the franchise wants to go in the future. A
palatable cap figure of $2.875 million.
||Jermaine Lewis, WR, Baltimore
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: When your team isn't going to be special
in its debut campaign, it never hurts to have solid special teams, and Lewis
will play a dramatic role in helping provide the Houston offense
advantageous field position. He is especially explosive in the punt return
game and a fearless runback specialist in general. Lewis has averaged 11.8
yards per punt return in his career and has six runbacks for touchdowns. His
career kickoff return average is 22.7 yards. In 1997-98, he averaged 17.3
yards per catch and scored 12 touchdowns on 83 grabs but has been primarily
used ever since on special teams. Could probably still line up at wideout
ihn a pinch. His cap charge is $4.289 million.
Moderator: Time for a Ravens question. John Rice from Baltimore wants to know ... How much does the loss of Lewis and Sharper hurt the Ravens?
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Since the Ravens will restructure their defense anyway and probably will switch to a 3-4 front, they might be better prepared to absorb the loss of Sharper. The departure of Lewis will hurt them since he is so good at providing advantageous field position for a lackluster offense.
||Marcus Coleman, CB, N.Y. Jets
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Got the big contract in 2000 and has been a
bit of a disappointment ever since. Had six interceptions in 1999 but has
totaled only six pickoffs since that time. The kind of big, physical
cornerback every team covets, has started all 32 games over the past two
seasons, and is strong enough to redirect even the biggest receivers. The
Texans will invest $5.48 million on him and it's a bit of a gamble. Coleman
was fined several times in 2001 for returning late to the team for Wednesday
meetings and practices. He owns a home in South Florida, would return there
after nearly every game, and was often tardy getting back. If he can return
to his '99 form and regain his motivation, however, he might be worth the
Moderator: The New York Jets are the first team to lose three players. Patrick Gallagher from New York, N.Y. wants to know ... With the Jets letting both of their starting cornerbacks and their starting right tackle go, could this mean that they are "rebuilding" for a year, and that Chad Pennington could be the starter next season?
Mark Cannizzaro, ESPN.com NFL writer: Absolutely not. They're not thinking about rebuilding at all. There isn't any question Vinny will be the starting quarterback. They've made that pretty clear.
||Seth Payne, DT, Jacksonville
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Solid but unspectacular defensive lineman.
His versatility is a plus and, in a 3-4 system that demands bigger ends than
the 4-3 front, he might be able to move outside on running downs. Not much
history as a pass rusher but getting better in that area, as evidenced by a
career-best five sacks in 2001. Won't ever be a
great player but should be a guy who gets better every season. Cap charge is
Moderator: There are some big-name players still available and Chris Sullivan from Houston, Texas wants to know if the Texans will take a couple of them. ... Everyone's been talking about the Texans loading up on defense in the expansion draft but do you think they will take any big names on the offensive side like Jamal Anderson or Derrick Alexander?
Peter Lawrence-Riddell, ESPN.com editor: With a cap number of $7.5 million, and a history of knee injuries, Anderson doesn't seem to fit into Houston's plans. Add in the fact that there are usually cheap running backs available in free agency (see Priest Holmes and Antowain Smith this past offseason) and solid running backs available late in the entry draft and it would seem unlikley that the Texans will take a risk on Anderson. The same can be said for Alexander, who would count $5.66 million against the cap and has a history of injury problems.
||Matthew Campbell, OL, Washington
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Versatile offensive lineman who has started
at every position but center during his career. Most likely to be used at
guard by the Texans but, no matter where he plays, a valuable "swingman" to
have on the roster. Good enough feet to play left tackle and enough power to
occasionally be an in-line force. Has experienced more than his share of
injury problems, mostly to his shoulders, but at a price of $875,000 a very
||Matt Stevens, S, New England
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Savvy "nickel" defender who still runs well
and gets around the football. Had six interceptions with the Redskins in
1999 but only 11 for his career. Not as big a hitter as his size would
indicate and was suspended four games in 1997 for violating the league's
steroid abuse policy. Has played with four different teams in six seasons
and, with the exception of his rookie year in Buffalo when he started 11
games, has always been a "nickel" guy. His cap charge is $565,000.
||Jeremy McKinney, OG, Cleveland
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Has been released four times since 1998
but, after spending all of 2000 on injured reserve (right knee), developed
into a solid in-line blocker in 2001. The former Iowa standout played in 13
games and started nine of them. He's a blue-collar guy who comes hard off
the line. At age 25, his best football is ahead of him and his price tag is
a thrifty $405,760.
Moderator: How bout a question from a Texas guy on a Texas guy. This one comes from Adam Holznband in Austin, Texas. ... Any chance the Texans will give Major Applewhite a shot by taking him in the late rounds of the regular draft?
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Possibly as an undrafted free agent. The plan is to draft David Carr of Fresno State No. 1 overall and to sing a veteran free agent like Trent Dilfer, Jim Miller or Gus Frerrote.
||Ryan Schau, OL, Philadelphia
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: In three seasons, Schau has played in just 13
contests and started but one. Schau possesses a big, live body, though, can
play guard or tackle, and costs just $563,000 against the cap.
||Charlie Rogers, KR, Seattle
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: With Jermaine Lewis also onhand, this
three-year veteran gives the Texans a terrific return tandem. Unlike Lewis,
though, he is one-dimensional and probably can't help much as a receiver.
Rogers might be used as a third-down back, however, if he can improve his
route running. In three years, he has averaged 12.7 yards and punt returns,
24.0 yards on kickoff returns and has scored a touchdown in each category.
His cap number is $563,000.
||Sean McDermott, TE, Tampa Bay
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: It never hurts to have a standout deep
snapper, a position that frequently is overlooked by some expansion teams,
and the Texans got a really good one. Tampa Bay has exposed McDermott in the
expansion draft and for $300,000, the guy is a steal. He probably won't ever
line up at tight end, his alleged position, but he won't be sailing the ball
over the head of the punter or botching a field goal attempt with an errant
||Jabari Issa, DE, Arizona
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: A sixth-round pick in 2000, he has experienced
some problems with injuries and his playing time has been limited. But he is
6-feet-5 and 300 pounds, perfect size for an end in the 3-4, and plays with
some passion. Not very quick, but could develop into a pretty good anchor
against the run and his cap charge is only $397,666.
||Avion Black, WR, Buffalo
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: The two-year veteran wide receiver is still very
raw and only caught eight passes in 2001. But he has good size and decent
speed, nice body control, and seems to have potential as a wideout and
clearly can help in the kickoff return game. With a cap price of $460,000,
he's worth a gamble.
Moderator: Time for another question. This one comes from Chris Richardson from Houston, Texas. ... I've heard that the Texans plan to use a 3-4 defensive scheme. Other than Sharper, do you think that the Texans will be able to locate the kind of linebacker talent that will make the defense viable?
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: They will have to try to find that player in free agency or the entry draft, since Jamie Sharper will move inside with the Texans. Dom Capers has always featured superior outside pass rusher and it doesn't appear there is that kind of player in the expansion pool.
||Danny Wuerffel, QB, Chicago
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: Until the last few days, the Texans weren't
even going to take a quarterback in the expansion draft. But when the cap
numbers of a few players were reduced in the final league accounting, they
changed their minds. The former Heisman Trophy winner joins "street" free
agent Mike Quinn as the only quarterbacks on the roster for now. In five
years, he has bounced around, hasn't thrown a pass since 1999 and hasn't
started a game since '98. For his career, the former Florida star has 18
appearances and six starts. He brings some public relations value, of
course, and could find a job as the No. 3 guy on the depth chart. His cap
charge for '02 is $555,760.
Moderator: With the first QB off the board, let's take a question about the QB that the Texans will likely take in the draft. Sean McCarthy from Humble, Texas asks ... Is David Carr the real deal, or would the Texans be better served by trading down in this draft, stockpile picks for next year, and sign someone like Dilfer, who is still relatively young ?
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: There's is always some sentiment for an expansion team to trade down. But someone will have to overwhelm the Texans with an offer. Barring that, Carr will be their first choice. He has some minor mechanical deficiencies but is the best QB available and has terrific leadership skills.
||Brian Allen, LB, Rams
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: The Rams must have seen something in former
Florida State linebacker to use a third-round choice on him in the '01
draft. Yeah, the Rams were disappointed by Allen's suspect work ethic and
seeming nonchalance much of the year. But the guy can run and cover, should
be a good special teams player, and has a cap number of just $450,426. With
a little grooming, he might be a good fit on the outside for the Capers 3-4
||Johnny Huggins, TE, Dallas
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: The Houston coaches feel he can project
to fullback and, in time, become a solid lead-blocker. Likely to play as an
H-back in 2002. Hits better on the run than he does in-line. Played in 10
games and started two last season and had eight receptions for 36 yards. A
cap charge of $300,000.
Moderator: Time for one last question. This one comes from Dean Hayman from Meraux, La. ... Are the Texans interested in trading for Ricky Williams?
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: There has been no inidcation that Houston is in the Williams sweepstakes. The Texans figure to add a medium-price running back thorugh freee agency and also to address the postion in draft.
Moderator: The draft is over and that's it for today. Thanks for all the interest, we received over 1,100 questions.