Oh, the NFL Draft, a three day extravaganza of predicting, projecting, and praying that months of studying will pay off. Some teams have more to desperately pray for than others, but fortunately for Texans’ fans, the anticipation does not have to wait until the third round begins this year.
With the 23rd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, there should be plenty of talent available for the Texans to select. However, the first tier of offensive line and cornerback talent may be off the board by the time the Texans go on the clock. If so, the Texans may be scrambling to find comparable talent with a first round pick at corner or offensive tackle.
This is how it could happen, and what Houston should do if it does.
Part One: A Run on Offensive Linemen
To compensate for the best defensive line draft in recent memory, teams respond with a mid-first round run on offensive linemen. If you’ve studied the myriad of mock drafts posted on a daily basis, you’ve seen this scenario outlined below.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars select OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
12. Greenbay Packers select OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
16. Carolina Panthers select OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
18. Minnesota Vikings select OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma
22. Baltimore Ravens TRADE to the Los Angeles Chargers, who select OT Greg Little, Ole Miss
Everyone and their mother is projecting the Jags take Taylor with the seventh overall pick to replace Jeremy Parnell. Taylor is the most NFL-ready right tackle in this draft class. The Packers have other needs, but as Aaron Rodgers’ health goes, so do the Packers; Williams would pair nicely with David Bakhtiari to protect Rodgers’ blind side. I could also see the Pack taking Cody Ford and moving him to guard. The Panthers have holes all over the offensive line and Dillard would shore up the left side of the line. Although I doubt Dillard makes it all the way to 16, he likely won’t get past the Panthers if he does slide a tad. The Vikings have an equally miserable offensive line as the Texans and would subsequently pick the best lineman available in this scenario.
Ford is my ideal Texans draft pick, though Weston surely disagrees. Like that kid on the playground that follows the bully and gets the last kick in, the Chargers leap the Texans in this scenario to nab Little as their future left tackle. Little may not be a plug-and-play first-round talent right now, but he has an elite ceiling if he succeeds.
Part Two: The Three CBs Are Swept Up
If you are a consumer of all things irrelevant (a/k/a mock drafts and flat earth theories), you’ve seen the former usually presents only three corner backs drafted in the first round. Deandre Baker, Greedy Williams, and Byron Murphy are three talented corners with vastly different skill sets, and their draft selections will be more dependent on each team’s scheme rather than their rank of talent.
15. Washington Redskins select CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
17. New York Giants select CB Byron Murphy, Washington
19. Tennessee Titans select CB Greedy Williams, LSU
This is not the most elite cornerback class, but need takes precedent in the middle of the draft. The Redskins, Giants, and Titans steal the best talent right out of the Texans’ grasp. Deandre Baker is a stud corner who will dive right into the Redskins’ revolving door secondary. They will make up for his speed concerns with their base-nickel package and with newly acquired Landon Collins. Byron Murphy would excel for the Giants as a zone coverage corner on the other side of Janoris Jenkins, and Greedy Williams makes a ton of sense for Tennessee since they face Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck and now Nick Foles twice a season. Greedy can run with T.Y. Hilton and is physical enough to battle DeAndre Hopkins
Now that the dead are at the gates of Winterfell and all the talent in the land at positions of need have been taken, what do the Texans do at 23? The first thought is to trade back and get more at bats in the draft, but moving back does not make the talent any better. If this scenario takes place on April 25th, the Texans will have to read their draft board, use every second of the clock to find a trade partner, but ultimately they should make this pick:
23. Houston Texans select CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple.
Temple corner Rock Ya-Sin met with Texans at Sr Bowl pic.twitter.com/kBWpFJYAoX— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 3, 2019
It is not that taking Ya-Sin is a guaranteed bust or a wasted pick, but teams are looking for Pro Bowl talent in the first round. Ya-Sin ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine which was well within the bottom half of times for defensive backs. He played most of his career at Presbyterian and only one season at Temple as a graduate transfer. He has prototypical cornerback size and length and knows how to be aggressive at the top of his routes. His film during the Senior Bowl presented much needed tape against NFL-ready talent.
Ya-Sin would be an immediate solution for the Texans at corner. The team brought in Bradley Roby and Briean Boddy-Calhoun as band-aids, but Ya-Sin is a moldable talent who I could see Bill O’Brien and Brian Gaine pulling the trigger on over reaching for a definite second-round offensive lineman.
Still, for all that Ya-Sin would bring, the Texans have their eyes on a player with a higher ceiling entering the draft.