The adage goes “sometimes you have to lose to win”, but what if sometimes, and this goes against the entire ethos of the Houston Texans, “you have to win to win?”. In the race to the bottom, the Texans are sitting in third with a chance to lose their way to the 2nd overall pick this weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But does losing to Jacksonville and all but locking up the 2nd overall pick actually make sense for the Texans?
Another adage is, and if you ain’t first, you’re last. Thank you Ricky Bobby for that. If the Texans aren’t going to get the first overall pick, they might as well put themselves in the best position to trade out of their early pick and stock up on more picks in the future. ESPN’s Sarah Barshop illustrated the impact of Sunday’s game on the Texans’ chances of clinching that top spot with the Detroit Lions as the other variable.
There are important draft implications for Texans/Jaguars on Sunday.— Sarah Barshop (@sarahbarshop) December 15, 2021
Jaguars win: chances for No. 1 pick fall to 2.5%, Texans jump to 42%.
Texans win: chances for No. 1 pick fall to 3%, Jaguars jump to 30%.
It has become a trend of late for the teams with picks two through to six to trade out of their early spot to team with better records and a wealth of picks. The Texans should follow in this trend in 2022, but the second overall pick may not be the best place to do so. Based on the past four to five years of draft trades, simply put, the third overall pick is a much more attainable and lucrative pick for NFL teams to trade than the second overall pick.
Most recently, the Miami Dolphins traded their 2021 3rd overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the No. 12 pick, a first- and third-round pick in 2022 and a first-round pick in 2023. That my gentle Texan, is the draft capital needed to turn around this franchise.
This trade marks the third time in five years the 3rd overall pick has been traded.
Besides the Texans not being able to pull off this elaborate of a trade, Houston may not have the key to trading out of the 2nd overall pick; a can’t miss QB prospect. Here are recent draft trades for the 2nd overall pick brought to you by our friends at NinersNation, all of which were for QBs.
1998, the Cardinals moved back 1 spot to let San Diego pick Ryan Leaf; they received:
1998 1st(3rd overall), 1998 2nd (33rd ovr.), 1999 1st (would be 8th overall), plus PR/KR Eric Metcalf (1997 First Team All-Pro) and LB Patrick Sapp - net 2 additional picks, 2 players
2012, the Rams moved back 4 spots to let WAS pick RGIII in what was a pretty legendary haul for then-St. Louis :
- 2012 1st (6th ovr.), 2012 2nd (39th ovr.), 2013 1st (22nd ovr.), and a 2014 1st (2nd ovr.) - net 3 additional picks
- 2016 1st (8th ovr.), 2016 3rd (77th ovr.), 2016 4th (100th ovr.), 2017 1st (12th ovr.) and a 2018 2nd (TBD) - net 3 additional picks
2017, the 49ers traded back 1 spot for the Bears to secure Mitchell Trubisky
- 2017 first-round pick (No. 3): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford» 2017 third-round pick (No. 67) — traded to Saints» 2017 fourth-round pick (No. 111) — traded to Seahawks» 2018 third-round pick
Just look at the quantitiative value the Bears put on the 2nd overall pick when they themselves had the 3rd pick in 2017...
Sure, this decision was baffling in more ways than one (they really moved up to get Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson), but this recent transaction is a Scarlett letter for those GMs who would dare try to acquire the 2nd overall pick.
Beyond the existential value proposition difference between the two picks, there begs the question “why would a team even be willing to trade their entire draft capital to move to the 2nd pick?” The reason: a franchise QB. The problem: this draft doesn’t have a clear-cut one at this point in the draft process. There’s no Trevor Lawrence in this draft. Not even close. A team’s GM only makes that move if they’re either more paranoid than a Survivor cast member at Tribal Council or all-in to pin their career on the hopes of a league-defining player. With no outright QB1 for this class, there will be less high stake rollers at the table than usual. Less profit, less gamble. Less gamble, less gamblers.
It’s fairly certain the Detroit Lions won't win another game this season. They won their feel-good game against the Vikings to secure one win and face the Cardinals, Falcons, Seahawks, and Packers to end the season. The only true argument for the Texans to lose on Sunday would be that the third best prospect in the draft is relatively ambiguous. Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux are slated to go first and second, but after that there’s less certainty.
If the Texans beat the Jags and everything else remains the same throughout the year, they’ll hold the 3rd overall pick in the NFL draft. The highest pick since 2014 when they took Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick. As an anecdote, the second and fourth overall picks of that draft were traded.
So, let’s say the Texans do in fact win this much anticipated game that could set new records in the annals of history as the least watched game in NFL history. If the Texans were to trade out of their 3rd pick, what could they get? It would do the Texans good if they could recreate the Colts-Jets trade from 2018.
We’ll assume the Texans front office can’t replicate the haul the 49ers got for Trubisky, but if the Texans could receive three net top 50 picks over the next two years that would be an amazing step in rebuilding.