Post Ryans, Sharpton a likely starter

April, 9, 2012
4/09/12
1:11
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For what the Texans need out of their second inside linebacker, I think they are quite happy with the idea of Darryl Sharpton filling what used to be DeMeco Ryans’ spot.

Sharpton created a solid buzz back in his first training camp in 2010, when the Texans were still playing a 4-3. As a rookie he started six games as an injury fill-in, five on the weakside and one in the middle.

Coming off a quad injury that cost him most of the 2011 season, he could have to battle a draft pick for the inside spot next to Brian Cushing. The other veteran on the inside last year, Tim Dobbins, is a free agent whose name hasn’t come up at all to this point.

Here’s what Scouts Inc. has to say about Sharpton:
Sharpton is a bit shorter than you'd like a linebacker to be but is a superior athlete. He has excellent lateral range and does a good job of coming to balance as he squares up, in the hole, to make the tackle. He needs some work on recognizing blocking schemes and making quick decisions. Once he makes the diagnosis he is quick to pull the trigger. He can deliver a big hit when tackling the ball carrier and flashes good pop to neutralize blocks. He needs work on using his hands. He gets excellent depth in his pass drops but needs work on route recognition and reading the quarterback's eyes.

Coach Gary Kubiak said Sharpton doesn’t automatically get the spot, but will get the opportunity to take it.

“He’s physical, he can run, his problem has been staying upright, staying healthy,” Kubiak said. “So I think if he can stay in one piece he’s got a heck of a chance to help us out.”

Ryans likes him, and thinks he will fare well as a starter.

“Sharpton is going to be a good player,” Ryans said. “He’s a very instinctive player and he’s going to make a lot of plays in the open field. He’s a good young linebacker and he’s capable of stepping in and making plays.”

The Texans don't head into the draft with a long list of needs. They need restocking.

They'll draft a receiver, an outside linebacker and an offensive lineman, I feel certain. Beyond that they have a lot of freedom to find the best players available. Cornerback, inside linebacker and tight end qualify as secondary areas where they need new depth.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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