Gone are the days when Houston Texans fans could debate the validity of former general manger Rick Smith’s ability to draft beyond the first round. In fact, gone are most of the players Smith drafted. The 2020 Houston Texans’ draft was truly a shadow of years gone by.
Two years ago, heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, the Texans had a wealth of cap space, multiple quality picks and tons of hope for the future. How things changed in one calendar year. After former head coach Bill O’Brien and former GM Brian Gaine did a terrible job with the 2019 NFL Draft and free agency, Gaine was fired and O’Brien was inexplicably given the keys to the kingdom.
Texans Fans in 2020:
No way we could have a worse draft than 2019!
Hold my beer.
With no first round pick thanks to the Laremy Tunsil trade and without the savvy to acquire one despite trading arguably the best wide receiver in the league, O’Brien and his alleged puppe tmaster Jack Easterby, waited until the 40th overall pick to make a selection last year. They chose Ross Blacklock, a defensive tackle from TCU. Having just let D.J. Reader leave in free agency, the Texans needed a replacement at nose tackle. Unfortunately, Blacklock wasn’t it. Houston still needs a replacement for Reader a year later.
Blacklock participated in 15 games, starting one. He was the source of J.J. Watt’s first post-game presser explosion last season after getting ejected in Week 2 for punching an opposing player.
No worries, Bill O’Brien and the Texans still had four more picks in the next five rounds.
With the 90th overall selection, the Texans spent their third round pick on Jonathan Greenard, an edge defender out of Florida. His NCAA game tape was promising, but Greenard failed to do much as a rookie, participating in 13 games and only starting one.
Sensing a trend here?
Next up came Houston’s fourth round picks. At #126, O’Brien chose offensive tackle Charlie Heck. With #141, he took cornerback John Reid. Again, both had promising flashes in their collegiate game film, but neither managed to crack the starting lineup more than once as a rookie. Heck was a healthy scratch for the vast majority of the 2020 season.
The Texans’ last hope at hitting a home run came in the fifth round, where O’Brien selected Isaiah Coulter, a wide receiver out of Rhode Island. You know, that pro football factory up in New England. At least the school is sort of near the Patriots!
Houston’s five draft picks started a total of five games as rookies. Not surprisingly...
Unfortunately, at this point, the best thing to come out of Bill O’Brien’s one and only draft as Texans general manager is his Zoom room explosion, which reportedly spawned from the Lions backing out of a trade. The virtual draft produced a cornucopia of viral moments, but in hindsight, nothing captured the state of a franchise better than O’Brien blowing up and storming off. In a disastrous, dysfunctional year for Texans football, the rookie class contributed next to nothing.
For a team that’s drafted Andre Johnson, Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Owen Daniels, J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, DeAndre Hopkins, Duane Brown, Jadeveon Clowney, and Deshaun Watson, to say the 2020 class was underwhelming doesn’t really say enough. This was quite possibly the worst draft in franchise history. When the most notable thing that comes from your draft class is a player getting ejected for exhibiting a lack of self-control, you know the wheels came off the rookie bus.
With new Texans general manager Nick Caserio running the 2021 proceedings, hopefully some semblance of sanity returns. Caserio has spent the last million or so drafts working alongside Bill Belichick in New England. While he currently has no first or second round pick, Caserio does have a third, two fourth round picks, a fifth, three sixth round picks, and a seventh rounder to use in April. I hope to see some trades that package some of those later round picks with a player to get Houston into the second round. If the worst case scenario of trading Deshaun Watson happens, at least a first and a second rounder this year should come come back to Houston in any deal.
What do you think of the 2020 draft class? Still hope one or more of these players develops into a quality starter? If so, which one?
What grade would you give the Texans’ 2020 draft class?
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