Bill Barnwell recently assessed how much draft capital each NFL team has heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, and not surprisingly, your Houston Texans didn’t fare very well. That’s what happens when the Cleveland Browns own your 2018 first and second round picks (thanks to the Texans’ decision last year to move on from Brock Osweiler and subsequent decision to move up in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft to select Deshaun Watson). Here’s what Barnwell wrote about the Texans:
Expected capital: 59.2 points (4th)
Actual capital: 27.6 points (31st)
Difference: minus-31.6 points
The Texans probably couldn’t imagine a world in which they finished with one of the league’s worst records in 2017 when they traded their first- and second-round picks to the Browns as part of the Deshaun Watson and Brock Osweiler deals, but that’s exactly why it’s dangerous to ship off high draft picks in future seasons. They’ll have three third-round selections, with a comp pick and the Seattle third-rounder from the Duane Brown trade coming through, but the Texans will be missing a pair of enormously valuable assets.
Was it worth it to acquire Watson? We’ll see. Again, it’s difficult to imagine the worst-case scenario, but it’s also naive to write it off altogether as an impossibility. Watson looked fantastic during his abbreviated rookie campaign, but what if the ACL injury saps his effectiveness? What if the interceptions that sneaked up at times during that rookie campaign get worse? What if Houston’s inability to field a competent offensive line in front of its young quarterback turns Watson into a frantic mess?
If Watson turns into the player he looked like in 2017, the Texans won’t regret their deal, even if it came at the huge cost of sending the 25th selection in one draft and the fourth overall pick in another to grab Watson. Given what the 12th pick ended up costing, though, anything short of that will go down as a catastrophic mistake by former general manager Rick Smith.
There’s no doubt the lack of a first or second round pick this year stings. But it’s also tough to argue that, from where we sit a year later, that the Texans made a mistake. A franchise quarterback is worth infinitely more than what the Texans parted with to acquire Deshaun Watson, and the future in Houston is exceptionally bright because of his presence on the roster.
Of course, Washington fans probably felt the same way about their prospects in April of 2013 because of Robert Griffin III. I believe there are far more differences than similarities between RGIII and DW4, not the least of which is how they were used by their respective head coaches and within their offensive schemes, but it is fair to note within the larger context of there being no guarantees about future health and/or production.
Nevertheless, knowing what we know about what Deshaun Watson is capable of from his brief and spectacular rookie season, I have to believe the Texans make the same decision to pay the going rate to acquire the Clemson rookie ten times out of ten. Do you disagree?