Why Would The Texans Trade Up In The First Round Of The 2009 NFL Draft?

Way back on February 2nd, TransientTexan wrote a very nice post proposing what struck me then as a terrifying idea. Namely, he theorized that your Houston Texans could and should kick around the idea of trading up in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Lest you think TransientTexan was going off half-cocked, consider this snippet from his post:

The practice of moving up a couple of picks has been successful in recent drafts, especially in the first round. Jay Cutler, Santonio Holmes, Darrelle Revis, Joe Flacco, Shawne Merriman, Jammal Brown, Kellen Winslow, Shawn Andrews, and Steven Jackson were all picked by teams that traded up to get them in the last five years. What do all of those players have in common? They’ve all had Pro Bowl seasons (except for Holmes, but I figure a Super Bowl MVP performance is just as good).

The thought of our beloved team snagging a player of that caliber is enough to make you lightheaded, isn't it? Well, allow me to sober you up.

In their illustrious (read: the opposite of illustrious) history, your Houston Texans have traded up just once in the first round. The year was 2004. After drafting Dunta Robinson with the tenth overall pick, the Texans acquired Tennessee's first round pick, which was 27th overall. The cost? Why, only Houston's second, third, and fourth round picks in the 2004 Draft! The player who commanded the ransom? Jason Babin.

I have a very clear memory of how I reacted to that trade. First, I threw a shoe at my television. Then I screamed unintelligibly. Then I wondered aloud why Charley Casserly would do this. Why would a team coming off a 5-11 season trade away any draft picks, much less three (3) prime picks? Then, when I calmed down a bit, I remember thinking that Jason Babin was going to have to have a helluva career to justify the bounty that was given up for him. Babin got a first-round contract. The Titans got Travis LaBoy, Randy Starks, Bo Schobel, and a great laugh. The Texans got fleeced.

What's the point of this walk down memory lane? I mean, it's not like Charley Casserly's around anymore. The Texans are run by a different brain trust. A brain trust that's shown it values draft picks. A brain trust that has shown it's fairly adept at targeting and finding players who fit their scheme and contribute via the draft. So what's the relevance to 2009?

The connection, my friends, is simple. As the draft gets closer and the Texans continue to add pieces via free agency, the thought of trading up is starting to creep back into our consciousness. Wouldn't B.J. Raji look good in steel blue? Damn right he would. How about Brian Orakpo? Imagine him blowing by lead-footed offensive linemen and forcing the QB to run toward Super Mario. And man...we do have that extra fourth round pick thanks to Sage Rosenfels. It's like free money!

I'm here to tell you that I cannot envision a scenario where I'd support a trade up next month for the Texans. The draft is a crapshoot. Teams do their homework and get as educated as they possibly can, but at the end of the day, it's a crapshoot. For every Tom Brady, there's a David Carr. For every Terrell Davis, there's a Curtis Enis. For every Marques Colston, there's a Charles Rogers. An exact science, drafting football players is not. Knowing that, why would you want to decrease your chances of hitting one out of the park by parting with proverbial at-bats?

This isn't to say that trading up is always a bad idea. As the players cited by TransientTexan in the post linked above show, it can work. But for the 2009 Houston Texans? With as many holes and/or depth issues as this team currently has, especially on the defensive side of the ball? I just can't rationalize why you'd pay the price it would take to trade up in the first round.

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