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BRB GroupThink: The Texans’ Best Decision Since Deshaun Watson

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The masthead gathers around the fire to discuss the best move the Texans have made since they drafted Deshaun Watson in 2017.

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Where were you April 27, 2017? I was driving out to West Texas when my phone caught fire. The Texans moved up in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Texans are taking Deshaun Watson. Those years of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, [NAME REDACTED] are all over and gone!

Well, until Tom Savage was named the Week One starting quarterback in 2017.

That decision made by Rick Smith—to trade up in the first round for the champion quarterback from Clemson—flipped the fortunes of this franchise forever. The Texans would have plus quarterback play for the first time since Matt Schaub got Houston’s offense above water. For the first time, the Texans would have a franchise quarterback.

Yet since this decision was made, the Texans’ opportunity to build around Watson, to maximize his rookie contract, to take advantage of the window they’ve had available, has been shattered with a slew of inept decisions. Trading Duane Brown, Jadeveon Clowney, and now DeAndre Hopkins. Desperately trading multiple premium picks for Laremy Tunsil. Sitting on cap space. Trying to do the best they can with limited draft capital on far too many occasions, just like they will continue to do now.

The question I posed to the masthead was a simple one. What’s the best decision the Texans have made since they traded up to draft Deshaun Watson?

Here are their responses:

MATT WESTON:

Despite not having a first round pick—which ended up being the fourth overall selection the Browns used to select Denzel Ward—and not having a second round pick (which was traded to Cleveland along with [NAME REDACTED] to dump his salary), the Texans had a fine draft class in 2018, all things considered.

I’ll stand by Martinas Rankin and blame Houston for moving him to left tackle after Seantrel Henderson snapped his ankle as the reason for his failures. I can’t wait to watch Rankin start at guard in Kansas City next year. Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas have proven themselves to be useful players. Duke Ejiofor has some spin move juice, even if he’s been too injured to do anything. Keke Coutee can run drag routes but can’t escape Bill O’Brien’s doghouse; he should be an interesting player elsewhere.

The centerpiece of that draft is Justin Reid. I loved this pick when it was made. In college, Reid showcased his ability to do everything. Cover tight ends. Play man coverage out of the slot. Blitz. Clean up the run game. Defend the run in the box. Cover from the deep middle to the sideline.

In Houston, Reid has carried these same exact skills while making some obscene individual plays. The interception he forced at the goal line against Tennessee was one of the greatest plays in franchise history. He stopped Leonard Fournette at the goal line on a two-point conversion to beat Jacksonville last year. He did all of this with a mangled shoulder.

Reid is one of the best safeties in football. He’s entering this third season. This should be the year he finally gets the national recognition he deserves.

BIGFATDRUNK:

We drafted Justin Reid.

That’s all I got.

CARLOS FLORES:

The best decision the team has made so far would probably be bringing back Bradley Roby. Roby was the best part of a bad secondary last year, but many thought he was as good as gone when free agency started. Not retaining D.J. Reader stung a bit, but I’m glad to have Roby back on that patchwork secondary.

Outside of this of-season, I’m going to go with drafting Justin Reid. I love the way he plays, and he’s going to be a building block for this secondary. With Johnathan Joseph’s departure, we need as much help back there as possible.

MIKE B:

Drafting Justin Reid. Followed closely by not getting rid of DeAndre Hopkins...wait...CRAP!!!

UPROOTED TEXAN:

They haven’t traded Deshaun Watson yet. That’s the best I got.

TEXANS THOUGHTS:

The best move the Texans have made since drafting Deshaun Watson is getting Jacob Martin in the Clowney trade. What’s that? I’ve talked too much about Martin already? Welp, that does it for me. I’m out.

If I actually had to choose, I would probably go with the Tyrann Mathieu signing. It was one of the biggest free agent acquisitions in franchise history and a good example that we can actually sign high level players. Getting an uber athletic, versatile safety who is a leader of men. Wow, I sound like BOB.

Anyways, Mathieu came in and was the heart of Houston’s defense almost immediately. Was his performance on the field actually that good? I would say no. He struggled in coverage, especially with bigger tight ends, and he missed a lot of tackles. But we also used him poorly as a deep safety and hopeful tight end stopper. Now with the Chiefs, used properly as a nickel defender and dime linebacker, Mathieu had a vastly better (and All-Pro) season. The point isn’t how BOB and Romeo Crennel misused him, or how the Texans have misued tons of players, but rather the fact that we were able to sign a player of Mathieu’s caliber.

It was a sign of an exceptional player believing in what O’Brien was building. When the signing was announced, I truly thought it was something that would change how the Texans were viewed. Gone would be the days of being seen at the bottom of the NFL food chain. We would finally be an attractive destination, a seemingly successful franchise. Boy, was I wrong. Mathieu bolted for Kansas City the minute he could. Choosing the Red and Yellow over the Red and Blue. I was devastated and in denial. “He wasn’t even that good. He’ll never live up to that contract”, I tried to tell myself. I was wrong again.

While my thoughts have become very scattered and side tracked, I guess it’s time to sum everything up. I loved the Mathieu signing. I didn’t love his play for us, but I thought the signing would mean more than just what he brought to the field. I thought it was the sign of an improving front office, one that would continue to add high caliber free agents. I guess what I’m trying to say is, what the hell do I know?

I’ve managed to talk myself out of what I once thought was the Texans’ best move since drafting Deshaun Watson. Way to put confidence into the fanbase, BOB. I’m going back to my initial proposition of Jacob Martin. Sue me.

What do you think was the Texans’ best decision since DW4 came to town four years ago?