Your fingers are covered in crimson. Not from the knife buried in your hand, but from all the ink that was spilled grading and remarking on the Texans’ 2019 draft class this morning.
The experts did the same thing. Here’s what they had to say about the Texans draft class:
Chad Reuter at NFL.com:
Overall grade: C+
Draft analysis: Howard has the athleticism to succeed in the NFL despite playing at FCS-level Alabama State; he proved that at the combine and acquitted himself nicely at the Senior Bowl. This really smells like picking for need, although they decided not to reach for their other big need, a cornerback. If Andre Dillard -- whom the Eagles traded up to select one spot before the Texans were on the clock -- stars in the league and Howard does not, people will wonder why Houston did not go up to get the top left tackle in the draft.
Johnson’s length and foot quickness earned him fans in the scouting community this year, and the Texans really needed to bolster their secondary. Scharping is a solid tackle, but was taken at least a round earlier than was expected. Warring has great upside as a receiving threat for the Texans.
Omenihu’s game screamed Day 2 (Rounds 2-3), so the Texans got a big break finding him in in the fifth round. Houston brought another long corner into the fold in Crawford, and Gillaspia will help as a blocker and special teamer.
Houston Texans: D
To describe their draft as uninspired might prove kind. Only history will determine whether GM Brian Gaine panicked by taking Alabama State OT Tytus Howard in the first round after letting the Eagles jump him for Dillard, who seemed like the perfect guy to step in and safeguard battered QB Deshaun Watson. Also some skepticism as to how much Howard, second-round OT Max Scharping and third-round TE Kahale Warring are equipped to help this team win immediately.
Houston surprised many inside and outside of the PFF office when they selected former Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard. He held up very well in his time against FBS competition, pitching a shutout on 38 pass-blocking snaps against Auburn this past season. He also had the highest win rate of any tackle in the 1-on-1s at the Senior Bowl. However, slotted as the No. 56 overall player on PFF’s board, he’s still a reach at pick No. 23.
“Now, I like Tytus Howard. I think he’s a good offensive tackle prospect. He is a bit of a reach, still.” – Pro Football Focus’ Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner
Weighing in at 6-foot-2, 213 pounds at the Combine, Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson is another long cornerback with a ton of potential going onto the NFL. He earned a 72.0 coverage grade and allowed an 84.0 passer rating when targeted in 2018, ranking outside the top-50 draft-eligible FBS cornerbacks in both categories. However, he is only potential until proven otherwise, and he will need to get a lot better in the NFL to see the field and thrive as a starter.
Another small-school product now playing offensive line for the Texans, Northern Illinois standout Max Scharping earned 87.0 pass-blocking grades every year of his career as a four-year starter for the Huskies.
A combination of positional value and low-floor potential in the NFL left San Diego State tight end Kahale Warring on the outside looking in regards to our final top-250 list.
Houston’s first two picks of Day 3, Texas edge defender Charles Omenihu at No. 161 and Central Michigan cornerback Xavier Crawford at No. 195, were both great, great value picks. Omenihu was much more of a run-first player at Texas, but he flashed pass-rushing ability when he was given the green light to attack. Not many pass-rushers have his combination of size, length and athleticism. Crawford earned an impressive 82.4 coverage grade across his 331 coverage snaps in 2018, allowing just 15 receptions from 38 targets for 162 yards and one touchdown in the process.
DRAFT GRADE: BELOW AVERAGE
The Texans’ biggest problem last year was they didn’t trust their offensive tackles—and with good reason. Knowing that youngsters Julie’n Davenport and Martinas Rankin (as well as the since-departed Kendall Lamm) could not survive one-on-one, Bill O’Brien kept tight ends and backs in to help block, which gave Deshaun Watson fewer options downfield and invited defenses to blitz more out of man coverage. The result was Watson taking about three seasons’ worth of hits. You could argue it was a misguided schematic approach to pass protection, but instead of toying with that approach in 2019, the Texans invested heavily in players who they hope can fix the problem on their own, taking Tytus Howard with their first-round pick and Max Scharping with their second.
One slot before Scharping, they drafted corner Lonnie Johnson, addressing a position that felled their defense in the playoffs and will need replenishing in 2020, as Bradley Roby and Johnathan Joseph are on expiring deals, while Aaron Colvin (last year’s big free agent pickup) will be cut if he doesn’t earn more playing time. The other notable pick is TE Kahale Warring, a high-upside freak athlete who could give O’Brien the mismatch weapon that he’s long sought but never had in Houston.
Howard is raw—the former high school quarterback and tight end walk-on at Alabama State is relatively new to the position and played at a lower level—but has all the tools to develop into a quality starter. He has a massive frame, with long arms, big hands, and light feet. He’s versatile, having logged starts in college at both right and left tackle, and has the size and power to bump inside to guard if need be. Per my board, this pick is a big reach—I had Howard ranked 83rd—but the Texans badly needed to upgrade their offensive line, and I can respect that they didn’t take any chances. This pick may need a little bit of time before it starts paying dividends, but Howard comes with loads of upside.
What grade do you give the Texans for their 2019 draft?