Houston Texans: Louis Nix III

"When the rookies get here, they just get in line, keep their mouths shut and follow the lead," Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien said two days before the draft.

Clowney
Then the Texans made some marquee draft picks, taking the most talented player in the draft, the best guard in the draft and a defensive tackle in the third round who some thought could go late-first and on whom the Texans had a second-round grade.

How did they all feel, coming into their first rookie camp, playing with undrafted rookies and tryout players?

Just like their coach expected them to feel.

"We’re behind," said Jadeveon Clowney, the first overall pick in last week's draft. "We came in behind and the other guys got the upper hand on us, so really we have to learn the playbook. ... Keep your mouth shut and learn. We don’t know what we think we know, basically. We got a lot of vets. Hats off to them guys, they’ve been there. We have to learn from them and take it all in."

The rookies were squashed into the middle of the locker room, occupying temporary blue metal lockers away from the walls where veterans get to be. Some, like fourth-round quarterback Tom Savage, have to share a locker.

It's a reminder that they have to earn their way onto the team. They will start that process in a few minutes during their first practice of rookie minicamp.

Defensive tackle Louis Nix III won't even say it's set in stone that he's been drafted onto an NFL team yet.

"I mean, not yet because I’m still in the transition stage," Nix said. "We got these bad lockers. Once I get on this wall and get a chance to actually play, if I get a chance to play, then it’ll be surreal."
HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans' single biggest need continues to blare like an annoying alarm clock without a snooze button to shut it up.

On Friday they drafted three players who will probably suit the team very well. Tough, versatile players at good value who fit certain needs. But none of them was a quarterback.

They drafted Xavier Su'a-Filo, a guard out of UCLA who said he tries to model his game after Logan Mankins because of Mankins' nastiness and physicality.

Bill O'Brien has always been clear on what a premium he puts on toughness and physicality, so he'll love that.

"You watch Logan play, sometimes he kicks out to tackle, he’s athletic enough to do it all," Su'a-Filo said. "He’s physical, he’s nasty, he comes off the ball. He tries to punish people. Plays his game trying to punish people. That’s the biggest thing that I love that sticks out to me about him."

They drafted C.J. Fiedorowicz, a tight end who excels at blocking, but who performed well enough in pass-catching drills when O'Brien worked him out to earn a place in Houston.

"I'm still smiling, I've got a smile from ear to ear right now," Fiedorowicz said. Then with misplaced but endearing gratitude: "I still can't even believe it, but thank you so much."

Then they took Louis Nix III, who answers to a variety of nicknames that include the word "chocolate" -- a big nose tackle some thought could go in the first round but who didn't seem to care how far he "fell."

These will all be good players for the Texans, I bet. Su'a-Filo and Nix could be very early starters at left guard and nose tackle. Fiedorowicz gives them the kind of blocking threat they didn't previously have.

But ...

"I know there's an obvious need that we haven't addressed yet," Texans general manager Rick Smith said. "But ... we've gotten bigger, we've gotten stronger and we've gotten tougher."

Blake Bortles went third, Jonny Manziel went 22nd and Teddy Bridgwater went 32nd to the Vikings who traded up to get him. After the first round ended, I called for patience. The Texans made clear they didn't see a big disparity between the consensus top three quarterbacks and the rest of the group. I figured they'd still be in good shape if they waited until day two.

On Day 2, Derek Carr went a few picks after Su'a-Filo. Jimmy Garappolo, who the Texans liked and who was in the conversation for the Texans' third-round pick, went to the Patriots late in the second round. Now we come to Day 3, a point in the draft when starters aren't expected -- especially at quarterback.

"Value" was a word Smith repeated many times in terms of the quarterback and the draft in general. You can't argue with the value they've gotten so far from these picks. And the Texans are right to not take a player sooner than his value would indicate. But the way that's fallen so far has kept them from solving what remains the biggest question of the offseason.

"There's still some good quarterbacks on the board," Smith said at the end of the second day of the draft.

Players such as AJ McCarron, Logan Thomas and Tom Savage remain.

Two days into the 2014 NFL draft, the most important position on the field remains unresolved in Houston.
HOUSTON -- The pick: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

My take: Nix fell and fell and fell in the draft, but he had a really good attitude about it. "I fell. Some people had me first [round], but who cares?" Nix said. "I got drafted. A lot of people can’t say that." He's a big beefy nose tackle who will fit well in Romeo Crennel's system. The Texans gave up the 101st and 141st picks for him (the first picks in the fourth and fifth rounds).

Chocolate something or another: Nix's nickname at Notre Dame was Irish Chocolate. He filmed a YouTube series called Chocolate News. I was told by NFL Nation Detroit Lions reporter Mike Rothstein that his nickname was Chocolate Thunder, and Nix corrected me, but added: "You can call me that if you want." But when one reporter mentioned Dwight Howard's reality show and how that seemed right up Nix's alley, he said he was focused on work. When he needed to, Nix got serious.

What's next: Let's find a tune to sing this to: The Texans still need a quarterback.

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