It seems in the post-draft frenzy of the Houston Texans using the number one pick of the draft to select DE Mario Williams, other picks have been overlooked by some fans. The Texans did select some good talent to add to the team, and one of these players is DeMeco Ryans, the Texans second round draft pick.
Ryans (6-1, 236) is an outside linebacker coming to Houston from Alabama. While he may not have the size or strength you would ideally look for in a linebacker, he does have the tenacity, intelligence, and other intangibles you look for in an athlete. He is a versatile player and could play any of the linebacker positions and be a leader on the defense.
Ryans plays very well against the run. He can shed blocks with the best of them, but sometimes struggles because of his lack of size and bulk. Ryans runs the 40 in 4.63 seconds, but plays much faster than that. He should be right at home in the Texans defensive scheme and I expect him to make a difference early in Houston. Some say that Ryans needs to work on his tackling technique. From what I've seen, Ryans has textbook technique. He wraps up with both arms, hangs on, and explodes into his target. What more can you ask for from a linebacker?
Ryans is also good in coverage. Some critics say that Ryans doesn't have the speed you want from behind your defensive line. Ryans has the speed to blitz, although he wasn't used that often in that capacity while at Alabama. He shines when covering runningbacks out of the backfield. Ryans' instinct to find the ball in the air will be a fantastic asset to the Texans.
Earlier this year, Ryans was honored by the NCAA by being named one of the eight players to earn the prestigious Top VIII Award, given to athletes to recognize outstanding achievement in athletics, scholarship and community service. He also won the Lott Trophy, which is awarded to impact college defensive players in recognition for their performance and personal character.
Ryans is smart, and not just on the field. He graduated cum laude in just seven semesters with a degree in management. He was also a finalist for the 2005 Draddy Award, considered to be the Academic Heisman. His honors aren't all about academics either. He was the MVP of the 2006 Cotton Bowl and played a vital role in Alabama pulling out a narrow victory over Texas Tech, named 2005 SEC Defensive Player of the year, and named to the 2005 All-American team.
Ryans is a great pick for the Texans. He is a leader, both on the field and off. His personal character is a testament in the age of professional athletes who do not believe they are role models.