Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is over, the Texans officially have their rookies in the fold. With rookie camp beginning in a few weeks, here are some way-too-early predictions for our seven newest Texans.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The Texans filled a need early, trading up 13 spots to land Watson. Bill O’Brien named Tom Savage the starter, but Watson will get a chance to prove himself as the longterm option under center for Houston. I think Watson starts at some point this year. Savage is injury-prone, and to think Savage will be healthy for all sixteen games this season is wishful thinking.
Watson 2017 stats: 7 games (6 starts), 65.0% completion rate, 1500 yards, 8 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham is viewed by many Texans fans as Brian Cushing’s eventual replacement. But Cunningham was taken in the second round due to his ability to play both outside and inside linebacker. He will play a lot more this year than most thin. He will start on special teams and he can wear many hats for this team.
Cunningham 2017 stats: 16 games (3 starts), 50 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
Foreman will not be at the top of the depth chart this season, or for as long as Lamar Miller is around. Foreman was brought in to take some of the load off of Miller, who sat out the last two games of the season with several injuries. He will be fighting for the backup carries with Alfred Blue during training camp. Blue, who is in the final year of his deal, will have a lot to prove this season and is no longer a lock to make this final roster now . I think Foreman wins the backup job and Blue is traded during training camp. Foreman will get some spot starts if Miller is injured and will have a productive rookie campaign.
Foreman 2017 stats: 15 games (3 starts), 650 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns, 200 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell
Davenport is a developmental project, but a good one. The Texans did not want to reach for an offensive lineman in a weak OL class, so they waited until the fourth round to grab a tackle. The Davenport pick will pay dividends, but not this season. I think Chris Clark will win the starting RT job and Davenport will be his backup. As long as Clark as healthy, there will be no need for Davenport to play. They may bring him in as a sixth offensive lineman in 4th & 1 situations or goal line plays like they did with Kendall Lamm last season, though Lamm should still be around to handle that role. I doubt they will move Davenport inside as he is too tall to play as an interior lineman. Davenport will see very few snaps this season, but he will be important down the line when Duane Brown ultimately decides to walk away from football.
Davenport 2017 stats: 6 games, 10 healthy scratches
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
After taking Deshaun Watson in the first, Houston took his teammate and 2016 Clemson sacks leader Carlos Watkins in the fourth round. Watkins will take Vince Wilfork’s spot in the defense. His college teammate, D.J. Reader, should be the starter, but Watkins will have an important role in the 2017 defense, just like Reader did last year. Watkins had 10.5 sacks in 2016 and will be an integral part to the defensive line on third down, which will include Reader, Christian Covington, Joel Heath, and of course, J.J. Watt. We’ll definitely see Watkins on third down and maybe even more if/when injuries occur.
Watkins 2017 stats: 13 games (2 starts), 24 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
Treston Decoud, DB, Oregon State
If there is any 2017 draft pick that won’t make the roster, it would be Decoud. The fifth-round pick from Oregon State joins a very crowded secondary in Houston. Decoud can play cornerback and safety, but he will be fighting for snaps among cornerbacks Robert Nelson Jr. and Kevin Johnson, as well as safeties K.J. Dillon, Corey Moore, and Lonnie Ballentine. Safeties like Dillon and Ballentine have frequently been injured as Texans, but they enter 2017 healthy and with a chance to make this roster. If Decoud makes this roster, he will get very little playing time and could be a frequent healthy scratch for the Texans. If he plays, it will be on special teams more often than defense.
Decoud 2017 stats: 5 games, 8 tackles
Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor
Fuller joins the Texans as a likely candidate to be the second-string center. Greg Mancz and Nick Martin are the team’s two centers currently on the roster after Tony Bergstrom was cut earlier in the offseason, but one of those guys, likely Mancz in my opinion, will shift over to right guard. Fuller might be the third center on the depth chart, but if both Mancz and Martin start, Fuller becomes a necessary commodity on this roster. Fuller is not going to make a major on-field contribution this year, but he is a good guy to have around. Mancz went undrafted in 2015, and now he is entering his second season as a starter in the trenches. Fuller is an intriguing prospect; maybe there is a place for him in the starting lineup in the future, just not in 2017.
Fuller 2017 stats: 1 game, 15 healthy scratches