As we reach into the aether that is the NFL Dead Zone, it's been brought to my attention that we actually have to come up with posts anyway. That Tim is a real stickler sometimes.
So what better place to start than with the absolute start of franchise history? It was a chilly February day as the Texans submitted a list of 19 players who would become true originals. There were hits, there were misses, there were...well, mostly misses. Also some special teamers and irrelevant players. So let's rebuild the scenario with brilliant 20-20 hindsight! Our actual list of selected players is here, and a list of the available players is here. Behind the jump, a theoretical 2002 Texans draft that would've set us on better footing.
The key parts the 2002-2005 Texans got in this draft were acquired in three not-so-secret side deals with the Jets, Ravens, and Jaguars. The Jets and Ravens deals, I think, turned out pretty well. Jermaine Lewis was pretty much washed up at this point, but Jamie Sharper was excellent for 3 years. Aaron Glenn was stellar and Marcus Coleman was a solid defensive back, even if Ryan Young did end up being a bust.
The Jaguars, however, gave the Texans some ticking timeballs stored in the back of not-so-franchise LT Tony Boselli. Assuming Charlie Casserly had figured out that Boselli and his huge contract were set to become duds, the Texans could've still snagged 2 Jaguars in the draft (teams were allowed to pull back one player after one was drafted, and the rest after a second was) and kept Boselli's high cap charge on the Jaguars. Oh sure, the Jaguars would probably be enraged that the Texans broke a backroom deal with them, but hey, division rivalries have to start somewhere, right?
Onwards to the draft!
1) Jamie Sharper, LB, Ravens
2) Aaron Glenn, CB, Jets
3) Jermaine Lewis, WR/KR, Ravens
4) Marcus Coleman, CB, Jets
5) Ryan Young, OT, Jets
6) Gary Walker, DE, Jaguars -- Between Seth Payne and Walker, Walker was the better player, the better fit in a 3-4 defense, and was an original Oiler. This was an easy selection. Injuries dogged Walker, but when he was healthy he was probably the best player on the defense.
7) Seth Payne, DT, Jaguars OR Keenan McCardell, WR, Jaguars -- The Jaguars would probably have pulled back Payne of these two, I'm guessing. McCardell wasn't a terrific fit for Chris Palmer's vertical offense, but he would've been excellent in the slot. He wasn't picked because of his rather ancient age for a wide receiver, as he started the 2002 season at 32, but he ended up playing four more solid years and parts of fifth before finally leaving the NFL after 2007. The Texans signed the Houston native later in his career, but released him before he ever played in a game for them. For the sake of closure, let's say it's McCardell.
8) Roman Oben, OT, Browns - Oben was far from a franchise left tackle, but he started 48 games from 2002-2004, including anchoring the 2002 Buccaneers championship offensive line. He would've been a perfectly suitable fill-in for the Texans and would likely have eliminated things like "Seth Wand, starting LT" from the memories of Texans fans.
9) Charlie Batch, QB, Lions - The Texans settled on Tony Banks to be their backup quarterback after selecting David Carr first overall, but had they simply selected Batch, perhaps they could've avoided throwing Carr in the fire from Day One. Much like Oben, Batch was far from a franchise leader, but he had a reasonable cap charge as compared to the other available quarterbacks in this draft (Chris Chandler, Jeff Blake, Rob Johnson, etc.) and was only 28. Instead, the Texans passed and let him latch on as a stalwart backup quarterback for the Steelers.
10) Willie McGinest, DE/LB, Patriots - While it's hard to fault Casserly and company for thinking that a soon-to-be 31 year old would have 7 full years of starting caliber football in him (okay, okay, some of that was with the Browns), the difference between James Posey and McGinest long-term would've meant a lot to a young 3-4 team. McGinest racked up 30.5 sacks over the next 5 years and would even go to the Pro Bowl in 2003. Posey would flee for the Bills after one year and become an afterthought while the Texans struggled to fill his OLB spot with bad draft picks and mediocre veterans like Charlie Clemons.
11) Danny Wuerffel, QB, Bears - Not because of any actual attachment to him, but because he was traded to Steve Spurrier's Redskins and had some value. The Texans wound up with Jerry DeLoach, but probably could've held out for a 7th rounder.
12) Charlie Rogers, KR, Seahawks - See above with Wuerffel. Rogers would be turned into Jay Foreman, who was a credible inside linebacker for 3 years. This was probably the best trade Casserly made over his entire tenure.
13) Mike Schneck, LS, Steelers - A Pro Bowl long snapper and one of the few players in this draft that was active last season. He would've had chemistry with Kris Brown from Day One. As a bonus, he has never been caught using banned substances, unlike some other long snappers we've had.
14) Avion Black, WR, Bills - A very solid returner for the Texans in 2002. Fell off a cliff after that, but in the 14th round of an expansion draft? Not bad.
16) Juqua Thomas, DE, Tennessee - One of the youngest players available in the draft, and was still playing last season. Thomas, another Houston native, is a terrific situational pass rusher and has racked up 29 career sacks despite starting just 25 games. There would probably be some concerns about him fitting into the 3-4, but talent plays, and he'd make a fine pass rusher.
17) Bruce Matthews, C, Tennessee - Because it was the right thing to do, damnit.
A couple of sidenotes:
- Reuben Droughns was the only running back of note left unprotected, but I'd rather have Charlie Batch and I'd have to assume that as he was by far the best player they had left unprotected at that point, he'd be the one yanked off the board.
- Ryan Tucker was also a thought for drafting a tackle, but he signed a pretty big deal with the Browns and even with hindsight, I think there was a better chance that Ryan Young would wind up being good.
- I was planning on adding the salary cap figures and such to this post, but I couldn't ever find them in a decent format. I even watched a few Youtubes of this draft looking at the bottom line for some of the figures. Suffice to say, I think Batch and McGinest make up for Boselli's salary to the point where we would've been able to stop picking.
Anyone else wallowing in nostalgia? Should I continue this series with say, a 2002 Draft edition? Speak to me, BRB.