With the 26th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Houston Texans select Stanford tight end Coby Fleener. Kyle Peter is serving as the Texans' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
I volunteered to fill in at the last moment expecting this to be an easy decision. The Texans have a long standing need to find another weapon in the passing attack to take some pressure off of Andre Johnson. Nose tackle is another huge need, but no true NTs are valued at this spot. There will also be better value at the NT spot later on. Josh Chapman would be a great fit, but he's nowhere near a first-round grade. I added Coby Fleener to the mix just to provide some sort of competition for Kendall Wright.I considered Coby Fleener, Stephen Hill and Kendall Wright (5'10", 190 lbs.). It came down to Fleener and Wright, as Hill is just too raw. In the end, Fleener won out. The more I investigated Coby, the more I wondered why he wasn't getting more recognition in the media. Rookie receivers are more hit or miss than the TE group and have a steeper learning curve. There's also more depth at the receiver position in this draft, allowing Houston to come back in a later round to address it if desired. The recent loss of Joel Dreessen, who signed with Denver, has opened up a gap in the TE group. Owen Daniels is talented but has struggled with injuries recently. They also have Garrett Graham and his one regular season catch on the depth chart. These facts just added to the value Fleener would hold for the Texans.
Coby Fleener (6'6", 254 lbs.) is the most NFL-ready TE. He'll provide a better red-zone target than Daniels (6'3") and runs a blazing 4.45 40. That's as fast as Wright while being eight inches taller and 60 pounds heavier! Let's put those numbers side by side:
Kendall Wright (5'10", 190 lbs., 4.44 40)
Coby Fleener (6'6", 254 lbs., 4.45 40)
Fleener is just as explosive as Wright. In fact, he posted greater YPC than Wright did his senior season and that's without having defenders worried about RGIII's running dimension out of the backfield.
His career stats at Stanford showcase his ability to make impact plays in the passing game, including an amazing one-handed TD grab against UCLA. 96 career receptions, 1,543 career receiving yards and 18 career TDs. During his senior campaign he averaged a ridiculous 19.6 YPC. He is very good at working the seam, getting in and out of breaks to gain separation, and he rarely gets jammed at the line. While he isn't known for his blocking, he does show the skills necessary to develop in that area. It's just something he was not asked to do at Stanford.
In the end, I felt Fleener had just as much upside as Wright. While not as hyped, his size/speed ratio being so much greater than Wright's was too hard to pass up.
Check out the 2012 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.