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Source: Texans Wanted RB Melvin Gordon In The 2015 NFL Draft

Houston is lacking star power on offense with the latest loss of Arian Foster to a groin injury. A source, reportedly with the team, suggests that the Texans wanted to select Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon in the 2015 NFL Draft.

"With the 15th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft...the San Diego Chargers leap in front of the Houston Texans"
"With the 15th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft...the San Diego Chargers leap in front of the Houston Texans"
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start by saying that I'm ecstatic about the Texans' selection of Kevin Johnson in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.  I think there is a strong possibility that he becomes a top-10 cornerback in the NFL after a couple of years, and that is a critical position to invest in for a team's long-term success.  That being said, it is human nature to look at the past and ask questions, or second-guess, certain circumstances that could have led to a different reality had things been done differently.

Houston's defense is one of the best in the NFL with J.J. Watt leading the way, and it's possibly number one in the league with the return of Brian Cushing and Jadeveon Clowney.  I'm a HUGE fan of defensive play, and I fully subscribe to the notion that "defense wins championships."  However, the offense has to score points for the team to win.  The offense also needs to sustain drives to give the defense time to recover and to keep the other team's offense off the field.  Like many of you, I have been quite frustrated when watching the team stall out on offense in so many games over the last couple of years.  In some of those games, the offense repeatedly went "three and out," which led to exhaustion for the defensive players and enabled opponents opportunities to score and win.

Notwithstanding the challenges the Texans face at quarterback, the primary reason the offense struggled to sustain drives and score points was the lack of star power at other key positions.  Unless you have one of the top quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers, you have to have several playmakers on offense.  Last year, the Texans had three playmaking stars on offense in Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and DeAndre Hopkins.  With Johnson departing for the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason and the news that Foster suffered a severe groin injury, the offense is now down to just one surefire star in Hopkins.  We can hope, and we certainly will, that other players rise to the occasion to become playmaking stars this year for the Texans' offense.

Our current "hope" for playmaking stars on offense would be a lot stronger had the outcome of the 2015 NFL Draft been different for Houston.  What if the Texans had drafted Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon or Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett?  Well, rumor is they at least attempted to do just that.

CBS Houston/SportsRadio 610 reports that the Texans wanted Gordon:

A source with the Texans tells SportsRadio 610 the team wanted Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon in the 2015 draft. Gordon was the top back on the team’s draft board.

In 2014 the Badger rushed for almost 2,600 yards and 29 touchdowns. Gordon finished second in the Heisman voting.

A draft night trade with the San Francisco 49ers allowed the San Diego Chargers to select ahead of the Texans at 15 where they took the highly touted ball carrier. With the pick following, the Texans ended up selecting cornerback depth with Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson.

Another recent article from CBS Houston/SportsRadio 610 highlights that Houston was indeed trying to trade up to get Dorsett:

Coming into 2015 the Houston Texans roster had some holes, like most teams in the NFL. But the Texans holes were in some of the key positions on offense. Quarterback is still undecided, the number two wide receiver position is looking like it will go to veteran Nate Washington and with Arian Foster’s injury the running back position looks, at best, shaky.

What might have been. Three draft picks that seemed to be poised for the Texans, but were snatched from their fingertips at the last second in 2014 and 2015 could have made the 2015 Texans not only a team to contend in 2015, but a team to contend for the next five or six years. Currently, who knows.

The offense is the big question for the Texans. With three holes at the three biggest skill positions the Texans will rely on their top tier defense to win games. But what if I told you they were just inches away from having a bright future at those positions instead of a big questionmark.

First we’ll jump back to the 2014 draft where the Texans had the first overall pick. They should have taken Jadeveon Clowney. It was the right pick for that year. There wasn’t a quarterback in the draft that would have been worth taking that high. But at 32 Teddy Bridgewater was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings after they traded up into the last pick of the first round to get the quarterback. Now, we don’t know if the Texans would have taken Bridgewater at 33 to kick off the second round, or if they could have traded up with the Seahawks at 32 to get him. But the Texans needed a quarterback, and they were very close to having what seems to be a pretty good one.

Now let’s look at the 2015 draft. On Wednesday, Cody Stoots reported the Texans were looking at Melvin Gordon in the first round of the draft. He was their highest rated running back and the plan was to take Gordon at 16th overall. Then the San Diego Chargers traded with the the San Francisco 49ers for the 15th pick and took the Wisconsin running back. The Texans took Kevin Johnson (who looks solid in his first training camp) to add some corner back depth.

Later in the first round of the 2015 draft, SportsRadio 610, the Boston Globe and numerous other outlets reported the Texans and Patriots made a deal for the 32nd pick in the draft. The Texans wanted wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. A strong, fast, good receiver from the University of Miami. The Texans thought he’d be there at 32. The trade was ready. Then the Indianapolis Colts, who had TY Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief already, and needed defensive line help, took Dorsett. The Texans dropped the deal with the Patriots and took Benardrick McKinney in the 2nd round. A position of need, yes, but maybe not as big of need as 2nd wide receiver.

It’s not clear if the Texans didn’t make the moves for Bridewater or Gordon because they thought they would get that one more spot. It is certainly plausable that the teams that leap frogged the Texans offered more or got to the teams ahead of the Texans before the Texans could even make a call. As for the Colts taking Dorsett, well you can’t predict crazy.

It isn’t always the best idea to play the what if game. But after Arian Foster’s injury it would sure be a lot better to be looking at Teddy Bridgewater, year two, at quarterback, Melvin Gordon in the backfield and Phillip Dorsett out wide. But that is a what if. And now it’s time to see what this team is made of.

I went ahead and included the entirety of the second article because it spotlights the fact that in the last two drafts, other teams jumped in front of the Texans to eliminate Houston from potentially obtaining a talented QB, RB and WR.  Any of them could have been the playmakers the team so desperately needs on offense right now.

We'll never know for certain if the Texans would have drafted any of these players if given the chance, but at least three other teams made sure the option wasn't available.  I strongly believe that Houston wanted an offensive star from the first round of the latest draft, and it is quite possible they felt cheated out of getting a shot at Gordon and Dorsett if there is any truth to those stories.  It's interesting how aggressive Houston was after that first round.  They obviously realized that if there is a player they truly wanted, they needed to trade up to ensure they got him:

  • Benardrick McKinney: Instead of holding tight with their 19th pick in round two, the Texans traded up to the 11th pick in the second round with the Cleveland Browns. The cost to Houston was their 2nd round pick (51 overall), a 4th round pick (116 overall) and a 6th round pick (195 overall).  The Texans used that to invest in Benardrick McKinney - ILB (Miss. St); they also received a 7th round pick from the Browns (229 overall).
  • Jaelen Strong: The Texans traded with the Jets in the third round to move up and snag Jaelen Strong with the 70th overall pick, giving up a 3rd round pick (82nd overall), a 5th round pick (152nd overall), a 7th round pick (229th overall) and WR DeVier Posey.

The aggressive moves to get McKinney and Strong were a welcome departure from the previous "sit and wait" drafting strategy.  It's entirely possible that Houston attempted to move up; perhaps they just wouldn't pay the price being asked, or they rolled the dice to see if that player fell to them at no cost.  It certainly would have been interesting to see this team with Bridgewater, Gordon and Dorsett filling three critical roles on the offense.  That's especially true as we sit here today while two players continue to battle for the starting quarterback job and the player who has been the heart of the offense for the last five years goes under the knife tomorrow.

I have faith that Bill O'Brien will guide this team to better places eventually, but it might have been sooner than later if he had gotten any one of those three potential stars.  With Foster gone, the offense is going to need guys to step up and exceed expectations.  Hopefully there are a few diamonds-in-the-rough about to rise up for Houston.

In conclusion, I remain as hopeful as anyone that Ryan Mallett becomes a franchise quarterback for this team.  I hope that a few wide receivers and running backs can breakout to thunderous applause.  I hope that Xavier Su'a-Filo proves worthy of the large investment the team made in him during the 2014 NFL Draft.  I hope Ben Jones becomes an anchor of the offensive line as the starting center.  I dream of a day the tight ends make us roar like Owen Daniels once did.

Hope is all we have right now.