Tis the season for the NFL Draft, which means it’s also time for pundits and draftniks to look at past NFL Drafts to pass judgment upon how every NFL team did in recent years. In accordance with that time-honored tradition, Mel Kiper, Jr. has gone back and reviewed his initial draft grades for each team in the 2017 NFL Draft; he’s then issued a new grade for every team with the benefit of a year’s worth of data to examine. Here’s what he wrote about your Houston Texans.
Post-draft grade: C+
Let’s get this out of the way: I’ve been accused of hating Deshaun Watson. That’s just not true. In reality, I ranked him as my No. 3 quarterback in a class that wasn’t very deep. I had him No. 34 on my Big Board, which put him at the top of the second round. I liked him, but I thought he had some flaws.
Houston obviously thought a lot of him, moving up 13 spots and giving up its first-rounder in 2018. What happened next? After a rocky first half from Tom Savage in Week 1, Watson starred, throwing 19 touchdown passes in only six starts. As I noted with regard to my All-Rookie team, that’s more passing TDs than Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota had all season. Bill O’Brien did a fantastic job of tailoring the offense to Watson’s strengths -- more movement passes, more run-pass options -- and the Texans were legitimately fun to watch. Then it all came crashing down when Watson tore his ACL in practice in early November. Houston went 1-8 afterward. And those 2018 picks it dealt to Cleveland to get Watson (and get rid of Brock Osweiler) ended up being extremely valuable -- Nos. 4 and 35 overall.
Now, I suspect the Texans’ front office would make those moves again in a heartbeat. Watson could be a superstar (though two ACL injuries is a concern), and finding a superstar at quarterback can change the direction of a franchise. Even after a 4-12 season, this team is headed in the right direction -- assuming Watson returns healthy.
Houston also got production out of linebacker Zach Cunningham (82 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble) and running back D’Onta Foreman (two touchdowns before tearing his Achilles in November). Day 3 picks Julien Davenport, Carlos Watkins and Kyle Fuller all started games too, while undrafted free agent Dylan Cole had 32 total tackles and two interceptions in part-time duty.
So that’s a lot of production from rookies, but it’s not quite an A because of what it gave up in 2018.
New grade: B+
Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/12 Deshaun Watson QB CLEMSON
2/57 Zach Cunningham ILB VANDERBILT
3/89 D’Onta Foreman RB TEXAS
4/130 Julien Davenport OT BUCKNELL
4/142 Carlos Watkins DT CLEMSON
5/169 Treston Decoud CB OREGON STATE
7/243 Kyle Fuller C BAYLOR
So Kiper doesn’t think the Texans’ 2017 draft class earned an “A” because of how much the Texans had to give up to create said draft class. That’s fuzzy math, fella.
If Deshaun Watson’s selection alone didn’t cause Mel to need a new keyboard after hitting “+” too many times after “A,” he has failed miserably.