The Texans held the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and acquired cornerback Kevin Johnson in the first round. Houston then aggressively traded up twice on Day Two in order to select linebacker Benardrick McKinney and wide receiver Jaelen Strong. GM Rick Smith and head coach Bill O'Brien met with the press after the draft and explained their actions that day.
"If we really like a player and we have conviction on this player, like we know we have a consensus that the scouting staff and the coaching staff like this player, we have a vision, we know where this guy is going to fit, let's go get him," O'Brien said recently in a season ticket holder conference call. "So if we feel like we're going to lose him, let's trade up and go get him."
After staying at 16 overall in the first round, and taking Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson, the Texans were sitting in the second round with the 51st overall pick. They traded up with Cleveland to get to 43rd overall, and threw in their 4th (116th) and 6th (195) round picks to get the Mississippi State linebacker. The Browns also sent a 7th rounder (229th) to the Texans.
With Johnson and McKinney in the fold, Arizona State's Strong was still on the board in the third round. He was a player who'd visited NRG Stadium in the pre-draft process, and a wide receiver many Draft pundits believed to be a first round talent. So general manager Rick Smith was on the phone again for a trade, sending receiver DeVier Posey and picks in the 3rd (82nd), 5th (152nd) and the Cleveland 7th (229) to the Jets for their 3rd rounder (70th overall).
It was an aggressive second day of the Draft, and O'Brien liked it.
"I don't know if that's been done a lot around here before," O'Brien said. "But I give Rick credit, he did it. He did it twice, and we were able to get some good players. Again, those guys need to go out and play now. But we feel good about where they are."
What They Bring to Houston
2015 NFL Draft Results: What Benardrick McKinney Brings To The Texans
Brett Kollmann absolutely loved the Texans' first round pick of Kevin Johnson. Does he feel the same way about Benardrick McKinney? Well...not so much.
What They Bring to Houston
The uncharacteristic moves by Houston to move up and get these players is a shift from previous more conservative approaches of drafting, where in the past the Texans would more often just take what fell to them. Houston also traded away wide receiver DeVier Posey to the Jets as they wheeled and dealed their way back into position, further adding to the aggressive aspect of their draft strategy for 2015. Two high-round trade-ups in the same draft is new territory for this franchise, and it's a welcome change.
There's no telling how much playing time McKinney or Strong will get this season, and we shouldn't expect them to start right away, but I still can't wait for OTAs and training camp to get here so that we can see how these rookies look! The Houston Texans have a much younger roster for 2015, and these two players may end up developing into key contributors on both sides of the ball for years to come.