Every once in a while, the gurus over at ESPN turn their attention to our football team down in Houston. On this rare occasion, they provided some analysis about the unique position the Texans are in entering the 2018 NFL Draft. Without a first or second round pick and the uncertainty surrounding the health of team’s top talent, offseason additions are expected to contribute right away. Here is the transcript from ESPN where Sprow, Kiper Jr., and McShay break down the Texans’ needs entering the draft.
Chris Sprow: Mel, I’ll let you get us started here. Not a lot of fun, but we can get into your depth chart a little bit. Because obviously the Texans don’t have a first round pick this year but they also have Deshaun Watson. We have to assume Deshaun Watson will be back and healthy. Obviously that is going to be one of the stories of fall camp. Assuming he is, he’s got will fuller he’s got Deandre Hopkins. He has some nice options in the passing game. C.J. Fiedororwicz has come along; I don’t know they might not have to make a move on offense. If I’m there I’m starting to wonder about the long term health of J.J. Watt. I think they were probably already worried about it before last year. Maybe thinking we need to start shoring up a little bit; pass rush, defense. Have had some nice hits at linebacker the past couple years. What do you thinking when you think Houston looking at best players that are going to be there round two round three, so on?
Mel Kiper Jr.: Well I think offensive line, you mentioned wide receiver, with (Will) Fuller with staying healthy throughout the long season. We will see about that. But I think defensively (Jadeveon) Clowney is special. We know that Cunningham who they drafted out of Vanderbilt. Zach Cunningham could be a heck of a player as well. Ya don’t want the defensive to fall off, I get what you are saying, but I think you have to keep helping Watson. I think you keep improving the line, get him another weapon, keep allowing Deshaun Watson to stay healthy. He has had a couple injuries now. He had the injury this year, he it with Clemson. So you don’t want this to be multiple and have the 3rd , 4th. So I think Deshaun Watson same thing for Andrew luck, the offensive line, you’ve got to make sure you solidify and keep improving that area and add a weapon to the arsenal for a guy like Deshaun Watson .
Todd McShay: Yeah I would tend to agree. I think we are going to see probably a balanced approach. I mean they obviously spent a couple picks getting Deshaun Watson last year. And then they go in the second round last year to (get) Zach Cunningham and they draft (D’Onta) Foreman at Running Back out of Texas, and then offensive tackle (Julie’n Davenport). So two years ago it’s the first three-four, four! picks were on all on the offensive side with (Will) Fuller, Nick Martin, and Braxton Miller and Tyler Ervin. So, before that it was a little bit more focused on defense. I think now you are in a situation where you have no idea whose going to be available at that point. But you are looking for guys who fit your scheme, and you are looking for weapons, protection around the quarterback position.
Lets face it, the only way the Houston is making a run at the Super Bowl is if they keep Deshaun Watson healthy. He’s the deal. Defensively, you’ve got to keep getting better, but if Watson is healthy we saw this year they’ve got a chance to be a really good football team. And so you’ve got to make sure you can do everything in your power to put him in the best situation… basically the anti-Andrew Luck. You’ve got to do everything you can to make sure you put the guys around him to let him succeed.
The Texans are all hands on deck for giving Watson the best chance to take this team to new heights. Surprisingly, these analysts were more interested in surrounding him with more weapons than adding better blocking. Adding a better RB to go along with Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman or finding a third option at WR would give Watson the “arsenal” that would allow him to pick a part any defense. Kiper mentioned the offensive line, but the most noticeable and accurate comment was in my opinion from McShay stating that Houston has no idea who’s going to be available when it’s their turn to pick.
Evaluating talent this deep into the draft is something that all teams, especially the Texans, have difficulty doing. Unless they have someone in mind that is worth trading up for, the Texans will be searching for contributory players that will help address depth issues. The first pick in the third round should be pushed into a starting role and will most likely be drafted for need; outside of that pick this could be a draft that’s about adding talent instead of purely targeting need. I think free agency market is strong enough to help fill the gaping holes on the roster.
The talent that Watson possesses and the adoration thrown his way does scare me. He made some egregious mistakes that are being disregarded in favor of all the great plays. Putting the entire weight of the franchise on a 22 year old is terrifying. That’s the reality of the professional sports world, though.