Day 3 grade: A
Overall grade: B+
Draft analysis: The Texans parted with their first-round pick this year as part of the deal for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, whom they just signed to a huge extension. His talent is undeniable; history will tell whether the price was too high. Picking up good players for the front seven in Rounds 2-3 answered the team’s top defensive needs. They hit their top need on offense by picking up Heck, an underrated prospect who will provide depth at both offensive tackle spots. He will probably earn a starting spot somewhere in the next few years. Reid is undersized but ultra-competitive. Coulter’s a vertical threat the team needs. He really helped himself with a strong NFL Scouting Combine performance.
Houston Texans: Hard to recall a draft so extensively leveraged to obtain veterans. Newly anointed (but long-acting) GM Bill O’Brien shipped out most of his best picks for players like newly extended Tunsil – he’ll cost another first-rounder plus a second in 2021, too – WR Brandin Cooks, CB Gareon Conley and RB Duke Johnson. Tunsil is a nice player, but his price was way too high. The others are eminently replaceable. And to also deal Jadeveon Clowney, basically for a third-rounder, while settling for a second-rounder and RB David Johnson in exchange for a transcendent talent like Hopkins? Brutal. O’Brien’s first official selection as GM was TCU DT Ross Blacklock at No. 40, which actually seems like pretty solid value. But in sum, this feels like a staggering net loss.
Round 2 (40): DI Ross Blacklock, TCU
Round 3 (90): EDGE Jonathan Greenard, Florida
Round 4 (126): OT Charlie Heck, UNC
Round 4 (141): CB John Reid, Penn State
Round 5 (171): WR Isaiah Coulter, Rhode Island
Day 1: Houston sent its first-round pick to Miami prior to the 2019 season in the Laremy Tunsil trade. In his lone season with the Texans, Tunsil posted a 75.8 overall grade that ranked 17th among tackles. This past week, the Texans signed him to a three-year, $66 million extension with $57 million guaranteed. That makes him the highest-paid offensive lineman annually by over $4 million.
Day 2: While beefing up the interior defensive line was a priority for Houston, so was improving the secondary. And considering the number of talented cornerbacks on the board when they were on the clock at pick 40, the Texans should have addressed the more valuable position. Ross Blacklock has the athleticism you covet on the interior defensive line, but there isn’t any technical proficiency with him. He lacks pass-rush moves and won’t be an immediate impact player, but he should be able to develop his pass-rushing over time with his elite agility and explosiveness.
There was a report that Jonathan Greenard, the 90th overall pick, was supposed to be going to the Detroit Lions via trade, but they backed out last minute, leaving Houston with Greenard and Bill O’Brien displeased. Taking Greenard this early in the draft was a pretty massive reach — he ranked 167th on the PFF Big Board and lacks the athleticism needed for an NFL edge rusher. Greenard abused the lower-tier SEC tackles and ended up owning an 88.0 pass-rush grade in 2019, but his lack of athleticism was apparent when he went up against above-average tackles.
Day 3: Houston finally addressed its slot woes on Day 3 and was fortunate enough to land John Reid, PFF’s 100th-ranked player, at the 141st overall pick. Reid has one of the top athletic profiles of any defensive back in the class and was an ideal fit for a zone-heavy team, so it makes this pick an interesting one. That said, Reid played under 100 snaps in man coverage this past season and flashed some incredible skills on those limited reps by allowing only six catches on 18 targets with six plays made on the ball.
Felling Houston down the stretch last season was a putrid pass rush that, at times when J.J. Watt was out, bordered on downright irrelevant. Some see Ross Blacklock as the best pure pass rushing defensive tackle in this draft. He aligned primarily over the center at TCU, both as a 0-tech (directly over the center) and 1-tech (shaded over the center’s shoulder). But elite athleticism—including much-coveted short-area lateral quickness—suggests he can play 3-tech in the NFL. Blacklock’s game is not built on power, so he himself won’t fill the void left by free agent D.J. Reader’s departure, but his presence allows Reader’s in-house replacement, Brandon Dunn, to focus almost solely on the nose position.
Speaking of focusing on a position, one of Jonathan Greenard’s biggest selling points was his ability to focus on many position. Versatility is an attribute the Texans usually put to good use in their interchangeable front seven. Don’t be surprised if Greenard plays multiple positions off the bench in his first couple of seasons.
As for the rest of this draft… Charlie Heck has a good chance to be the swing tackle given the inconsistencies of Roderick Johnson. John Reid and Isaiah Coulter might have trouble making the final roster considering Houston is already deep at cornerback and wide receiver.
Houston Texans: C+
Top needs: CB, WR, OL, Edge
Bill O’Brien has been aggressive with trades in his short time in charge of the front office. Two first-round picks to Miami to get Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for a second-round pick and David Johnson. A second-round pick to the Rams for Brandin Cooks. And that’s not all. But that left the Texans’ 2020 draft stock depleted, and that’s tough, particularly for a defense that declined noticeably in 2019. Houston could have used one of the defensive backs on the board at No. 26.
As for what the Texans got this weekend, Ross Blacklock (40) is a defensive tackle whom Todd McShay really liked, but there were mixed opinions around the league. He played as a nose tackle often for TCU, but he has some pass-rush ability. Could he could slide out to end in this 3-4 defense and get after passers, or is he going to be a nose tackle? At the very least, he’s going to be stout against the run.
Outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard (90) had 9.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss last season, but he didn’t crack my top 100. Isaiah Coulter (171) is a 6-foot-2 wide receiver who was at his best against good competition. I had a fourth-round grade on him, and he lasted until the end of Round 5.
This isn’t a special class, and you have to factor in O’Brien’s worth on trades as well, which is why it gets a C-plus from me.
So opinions on the Texans’ performance the last three days range from an F to a B+. Which end of the spectrum do you believe is closer to reality?