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2020 NFL Draft: Texans Second Round Scenarios

Where will your Houston Texans go with the 40th pick in the NFL Draft?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Your Houston Texans survived the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft without trading away J.J. Watt for a handful of magic beans or sending Deshaun Watson to the Patriots for an autographed box of Kraft Mac n Cheese. There was much rejoicing!

At 6 pm CDT tonight, the second round begins. A mere eight picks in, the Texans will be on the clock with the 40th overall draft pick. Maybe. As of this writing, Houston still holds the 40th pick, but we’ve all seen Bill O’Brien’s devil-may-care attitude when it comes to tossing assets around like a kid in a candy store who seems to change his “master plan” every time a shiny, new jawbreaker or gumball catches his eye. Under these circumstances, one of three things will happen before the clock strikes midnight on Day Two of the 2020 NFL Draft.

1. Houston trades up a few spots to select a player they covet.

Iowa EDGE A.J. Epenesa, who’s found himself linked to the Texans more than once in pre-draft rumors and mock drafts, might also have caught the eye of several defensive-needy teams picking ahead of Houston in the second round. The Colts, Giants and Patriots could all have their eye on A.J., which would force O’Brien to give up more assets if he truly covets the former All-American.

It’s worth noting that Epenesa allegedly selected the #99 jersey he wears in honor of his hero, J.J. Watt. Having both of them in Houston’s front seven could create a formidable force.

Bleacher Report:

[Epenesa] says he models his game after J.J. Watt’s, and it takes only a few seconds to understand why.

2. The Texans stay put and select another player they love.

Speaking of connections to J.J. Watt, Wisconsin Badger Zack Baun, knows Watt’s legacy as well as anyone out there. The former quarterback turned linebacker nailed 19.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks his senior year at Watt’s alma mater; following J.J. to H-Town wouldn’t be a bad move. While his productivity at Wisconsin might not immediately translate to the NFL, finding a way to have Baun on the field with Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney and [insert defensive tackle here] might go a long way toward restoring Houston’s former glory along the defensive front.

3. Houston trades back to collect more picks and stockpile more mid-round shots.

This move seems to make the most sense if Bill O’Brien can do it right. Perhaps the Texans could send the 40th overall pick and a seventh rounder to the Miami Dolphins for the 56th and the 70th overall picks. A savvy GM might pull that off; based on O’Brien’s track record, he’s more likely to also give up a second or third rounder in 2022 to make a deal like this work. While a trade down like that might take Houston out of the running for Baun and Epenesa, there are still a litany of solid players potentially available between Pick 50 and 100, including guys like Clemson wideout Tee Higgins, Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, and Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson. While there’s no way to know for sure if any of these players - or all of them - make it out of the Top 50, if one is available in the draft slot Houston trades back into, they’d be worth the pick.