Our periodic look at the best and worst draft picks by position for each team moves to cornerback. We’re looking at draft results since realignment in 2002, since that’s when the Texans came into existence and gives us the most level comparison…
Best: Dunta Robinson, taken 10th overall in 2004, lived up to his first-round pick status for a good segment of his career. He tops three categories in the team’s record books, with six picks as a rookie, 13 in his career and two seasons leading the team in interceptions. I understood not paying him big bucks and allowing him to leave as a free agent before the 2010 season. But the Texans failed to sufficiently replace him and had a brutal pass defense last season.
Worst: Fred Bennett (fourth-rounder in 2007) had some well-documented struggles and Antwaun Molden (third in 2008) has never lived up to his initial training camp, but Vontez Davis wins the honor here. A sixth-rounder from 2004, he also got a look from Chicago and time on the practice squads in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh but never played a game in the NFL. (Nevertheless, this autographed picture of him as a Texans still goes for $15.99.)
Best: Perhaps it’s projecting a bit, because his best football is surely ahead of him, but Jerraud Powers was an excellent find out of Auburn in the third round in 2009. He was the team’s best cornerback last season before suffering a season-ending right forearm injury and looks to be the kind of piece that continues to sustain the franchise -- a real find outside of the first couple rounds.
Worst: Daymeion Hughes was a third-round pick out of Cal in 2007 who later became known as Dante Hughes. Under either name, he never proved he could cover effectively for Indianapolis. He played in 24 games in two seasons and couldn’t stick beyond that. He’s been with San Diego the past two seasons.
Best: Rashean Mathis was a little known guy coming out of Bethune-Cookman in 2003. But the Jaguars spent a second-round pick on him and got a starter from Day 1. He has started every game he’s played, and has missed just a dozen games in eight seasons. In the past two years, a new regime swept out a lot of veteran guys. But Mathis has remained a fixture.
Worst: Scott Starks was a third-round choice out of Wisconsin in 2005 who never really qualified as more than a nickelback and hardly provided what Jaguars with an answer in the secondary. He lasted five seasons and played in 54 games, but started only one and recorded only two interceptions. Sure you’d like the Jaguars to have found a gem out of Steve Smith (seventh-rounder in 2002), Chris Roberson (seventh, 2005) and Dee Webb (seventh, 2006) but expectations for all of them paled in comparison to a third-rounder like Starks.
Best: The Titans did much to bail themselves out of failed first-round picks at the position like Pacman Jones and Andre Woolfolk by hitting on Cortland Finnegan out of Samford in the seventh round in 2006. While he has dropped off since an All-Pro 2008, he still ranks as a ridiculously good find with the 215th pick.
Worst: The Titans needed Woolfolk to become a fixture in the secondary when they spent the 28th overall pick in the 2003 draft on him. But he never showed any consistency and ultimately qualified as a bust, with just 11 starts and three interceptions in four years. He failed to emerge as a player who ranked ahead of a seventh-rounder like Reynaldo Hill.