The Houston Texans agreed to a post-draft undrafted free agent contract with Ohio State cornerback Travis Howard. Howard was rated as the No. 33 best cornerback prospect in this year's draft class by SB Nation's Dan Kadar.
Howard's ranginess really stands out. He has good instincts which, when combined with his 6'1 frame, makes him a very difficult corner to throw against. Howard has excellent ball skills, and isn't afraid to lay down big hits. He works very hard as a run defender.
That said, Howard may not have the quickness needed to transition to the NFL. His length is a hindrance in this case. Howard is also lanky, and may struggle against bulkier receivers. After he spends some time in the weight room, perhaps a transition to safety is in store.
Howard joins a team that already includes former Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey in a secondary that's far from set. Ex-Bengal Johnathan Joseph is the leader of the secondary, both in terms of on the field performance and vocalness, though the addition of Super Bowl champ and veteran Ed Reed could change the latter. Kareem Jackson is the other starter at corner, though his on the field play has been a mixed bag since the Texans took him as a first rounder out of Alabama.
With Brandon Harris, Brice McCain, and Roc Carmichael composing the likely returning veterans and no incoming cornerbacks added through the draft, it's possible Howard gets some looks at the cornerback position. If, as others have projected, free safety is more his target destination, he'll be battling Shiloh Keo, a third year safety out of Idaho, for the honors of backing up Reed.
Expect special teams to be the most likely place for Howard to make his impact if he makes the Texans' 53 man 2013 regular season roster. It's also conceivable he starts from the practice squad before earning a shot at becoming a regular for the defending AFC South champs.
Pro Day results
Weight: 200 lbs.
40 yard dash: 4.59
Bench press: 7 reps of 225
20 yard shuttle: 4.14
Howard had 39 tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups in 12 games played last season. For his efforts, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors by media, and honorable mention by coaches.
SB Nation's Louis Bien contributed to this report.