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2020 NFL Draft: The Likelihood Houston Trades Down

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The road goes on forever and the party never ends.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The dust has not settled on the most tumultuous offseason in franchise history, and things may come to a head in the upcoming NFL Draft. No first-round pick. 50 picks between their second and third-round picks. Three seventh-round picks. The Texans have sown their own story for next week’s draft, and no one would be surprised if their draft class is historically underwhelming.

Who knows what the future has in store, but here’s a list of the Texans picks’ heading into the 2020 NFL Draft:

  • 2nd round (from Arizona; 40th overall via DeAndre Hopkins trade)
  • 3rd round (90th overall)
  • 4th round (from Miami; 111th overall via the Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills trade)
  • 5th round (171st overall)
  • 7th round (240th overall)
  • 7th round (compensatory pick; 248th overall)
  • 7th round (compensatory pick; 250th overall)

There is less to work with here than a plastic tool kit. With only two picks in the Top 100, the Texans are not well equipped to move and shake in the draft. What they do have going for them is an early pick in the second-round. Every year there are 10-12 prospects who have first-round grades that fall into the second round, passed by players with higher ceilings, better system fits, or less question marks on their resume. This year in particular, there is minimal difference in the talent level between Pick Nos. 30-50. Looking at the first-round prospects, there’s about 5-6 elite prospects, 10-15 elite athletes, and then oodles of potential long-term players in the league.

This incentivizes two options for teams. First, teams in the middle of the first round selling their ticket to move back and draft for value. Second, uneasy GMs attempting to move up to snag a player they didn’t think would be available.

The second option could be quite an enticing scenario for the Texans. With the 10th pick in the second round, the price could be right for a team to swoop in and give the Texans a deal to garner more picks. The theory would be that Houston moves back 7-15 picks to draft any one of a handful of players that were still on the board while picking up a couple of extra picks in compensation.

Last year, Cincinnati traded the 42nd pick to Denver in exchange for Denver’s second, fourth and sixth-round selections (52nd, 125th and 182nd). If the Texans were to make this move, it would give them two more lottery tickets in a relatively deep draft. Denver proceeded to draft Drew Lock with their 42nd pick, and as the Texans saw this past season at NRG Stadium, that trade was well worth it from their perspective. Cincinnati? Well, they may have busted on all three of their draft choices...but let’s chalk that up to a managerial ineptitude. At least Houston is not alone.

If four quarterbacks, four offensive tackles, and six wide receivers are taken in the first round, there will be a plethora of eligible defensive players the Texans could sweep up. Mel Kiper Jr.’s mock draft 4.0 details this exact scenario.

The Texans would almost certainly package two or three of their garbage seventh-round picks to move up into the fifth or sixth rounds, but that’s a topic less interesting than ESPN this past month.

Even after the acquisition of Brandin Cooks, the Texans have fattier briskets to smoke than finding a long-term WR1. The sting of losing D-Hop will not be replaced by lobbing some poor rookie receiver into the void.

But if we’re talking defense? We don’t have the talent we need to control opposing offenses to get back to the NFL Playoffs. Have you seen who the Texans have on the schedule in 2020? Lamar Jackson. Aaron Rodgers. Patrick Mahomes. Ben Rothlisberger. Matthew Stafford. Are you kidding me? Not to mention Ryan Tannehill and Baker Mayfield with their receivers. Kurt Cousins could be dangerous in Gary Kubiak’s offense, and Joe Burrow will probably be immediately adequate in Cincinnati. Deshaun Watson will spread the wealth and do what he does, but I cannot say the same for this current hodgepodge group of defenders. The more chances Houston has to find a diamond in the rough for its defense, the better. That may be best accomplished by moving down in the draft, stocking up on mid-round selections, and praying for a miracle.