Would Texans have chased Paul Soliai?

March, 7, 2011
3/07/11
11:24
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While Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense doesn’t demand the monster nose tackle other versions of the scheme does, it’s still a crucial spot.

In Dallas, Jay Ratliff was effective at the spot and weighed a bit over 300 pounds, not 330.

The fact that the guy manning the position doesn’t have to be huge doesn’t change the fact that he has to be good.

The claim Gary Kubiak made at the combine that Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell can handle the job was disturbing to many Texans fans, and that was followed by a new, two-year contract for Cody who hardly stood out as a 4-3 tackle.

Perhaps Houston’s doing some posturing, or perhaps its moves and words reflect the fact the Texans don’t believe there is a great chance at an impact alternative in free agency or the draft.

Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata and Miami’s Paul Soliai were franchised. San Francisco’s Aubrayo Franklin will be a hot commodity, but as a singular guy it’s hard to count on landing him or to be confident you’d win a bidding war if you strayed from a fiscally conservative approach in free agency.

Is there a premier guy to play the nose beyond those?

Among draft prospects, two guys are viewed as immediate impact guys. And Alabama’s Marcell Dareus and Auburn’s Nick Fairley are expected to be gone before the Texans pick at No. 11.

Dan Pompei wrote Sunday that the Texans may have wanted Soliai. (Hat tip to Battle Red Blog.)
"The Dolphins raised a lot of eyebrows when they put the franchise tag on nose tackle Paul Soliai, guaranteeing him about $12.5 million in 2011. Why did the team step out like that on a player who most fans aren’t even aware of? My sources tell me the Dolphins surveyed the free agent field and believed there were no other nose tackles close to Soliai in ability. Given the number of teams playing a 3-4 defense, the Dolphins feared Soliai would be the subject of a bidding war. In fact, there were rumblings that the Redskins and Texans coveted him."

Is Houston now serious about going with Cody and Mitchell and feeling like they’re the answer?

The Texans certainly have plenty of other concerns: at outside linebacker, at inside linebacker depending on DeMeco Ryans' recovery from a blown out Achilles, at safety where they’ve parted with both of last year’s starters, at corner where they need veteran leadership and perhaps at receiver where they could upgrade their No. 2 option opposite Andre Johnson.

But it would be quite early for them to determine there isn’t someone who can help at nose tackle in the draft and free agent markets to come.

I’m going to continue to consider it fluid.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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