The Houston Texans finalized their 53 man roster over the weekend, and GM Rick Smith and the scouting department can be proud of the work that they did this offseason following the NFL Draft given that four undrafted rookie free agents ended up making the 2013 team. Running back Cierre Wood, outside linebackers Willie Jefferson (above) and Justin Tuggle, and cornerback A.J. Bouye all found themselves on the Texans after the final roster cuts Saturday.
Not only is it a testament to the impressive work these players put in during training camp and preseason, but it also showed that the Texans scouting department did an excellent job of finding players who were bypassed in the draft that fit their system. The fact that they made a team that is in “win now” mode and has designs on getting to Super Bowl XLVIII shows that the Texans really hit on these players. Wood, out of Notre Dame, and Tuggle from Kansas State, played at big time football schools. Bouye and Jefferson were finds from smaller schools with Bouye out of Central Florida and Jefferson from Stephen F. Austin University.
Wood won the third running back job, beating out veteran Deji Karim and fellow undrafted rookie Dennis Johnson for the last spot in the Texans backfield. He cemented his role with an excellent showing in the last preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, rushing for 107 yards on 19 carries. Jefferson and Tuggle both displayed pass rushing prowess during the preseason and will also likely contribute on special teams. With starting OLB Whitney Mercilus sidelined most of the preseason, both players got the chance to play snaps with the starting defense and showed the ability to make plays. Bouye won the fifth and final cornerback spot on the team. He had an interception against the Cowboys and played well during training camp to beat out veteran Roc Carmichael, who made the practice squad.
Expect all four undrafted rookies to contribute on the field at some point this season. Another example of the fine job that the Texans scouting department did this offseason was the number of undrafted rookies that they cut who were claimed on waivers or signed by other teams. Johnson may have lost out to Wood, but he was signed by the Cleveland Browns yesterday. Tight end Jake Byrne was signed to the San Diego Chargers‘ practice squad, linebacker Ja’Gerad Davis was signed to the New England Patriots‘ practice squad, and tight end Adam Schiltz was picked up by the Tennessee Titans‘ practice squad.
In addition to those undrafted rookies, nose tackle Chris Jones, who the Texans drafted in the sixth round, was claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He and Johnson will be on the 53 man roster of the Bucs and Browns respectively since they were claimed on waivers. Jones was the lone draft pick who the team waived this year. Three other draft picks, third round pick OT Brennan Williams, fourth round pick OLB Travardo Williams, and sixth round pick WR Alan Bonner were placed on injured reserve and will sit out their rookie seasons.