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2021 NFL Draft: Five Things To Watch For Before Houston’s First Selection

It’s draft day, baby... well, at least for some.

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

On this most glorious day, the NFL’s newest crop of athletes takes center stage in one of the most joyful, drawn out, and over-analyzed events of the year. The 2021 NFL Draft is sure to be a spectacle, one that didn’t take place in person last year.

There will be a lot of nervous energy at NRG Park as the Texans’ new regime awaits its first draft pick after sitting out the opening two rounds. Believe it or not, Texans fans have more to pay attention to today than they might initially consider.

This draft will be unlike any other. From a significant portion of the players available missing some or all of the past season to multiple positional needs, the Texans have a lot to gain or lose on Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

1. Deshaun Watson Trade Rumors

It appears there were several offers on the table for QB Deshaun Watson before the recent allegations against him became public. With much of the front page news out of the way, Watson talk has reared its head again before the NFL Draft. If the Texans are approached with a deal that could clear them of any potential suspensions of their star quarterback, land a few early picks, and truly begin the rebuilding process, they may jump at the possibility. It’s highly unlikely Houston’s new front office would make such a drastic move tonight, but there are too many possibilities out there to say it’s impossible a trade does occur.

2. Players Who Opted-Out

In any other year, if a player sat out the entire season, he would be immediately removed from draft boards. However, with a large swath of the draft pool having missed time or sat out due to COVID, teams will need to take chances on film that’s eighteen months old. General managers will be wary of selecting a player who hasn’t been on a field in that long of a time, which could open the door for multiple talented players who simply did not play falling. Or a team could jump on running backs and other high-contact players who will be fresh heading into their first professional season. How teams approach players who missed this past season will be one of the unique wrinkles in this draft and a case study for years to come.

3. Run on Defensive Linemen

This draft will not be remembered for its defensive linemen. If a team is desperate for an interior defensive lineman, it will have to act quick as there aren’t many to be had. This lack of supply may cause a run on the position, something the Texans would suffer greatly from. The defense is a main priority in this draft, and if the low supply of equitable linemen are acquired before the Texans make their first pick, Houston will have trouble finding a quality selection for the rest of the draft.

4. Second and Third Tier Quarterbacks

Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones are all guaranteed first rounders. I may not be as sold on this QB class as others, but there are plenty to go around this year. What will be more interesting is the second and third tiers of quarterbacks and when they start to come off the board. Around seven to eleven teams are actively looking for first string quarterbacks or future starters, which means the first two to three rounds may be full will potential prospects. Players such as Kellen Mond, Sam Ehlinger, and Ian Book could all be strong considerations for teams on Day 2 or early in Day 3. Kyle Trask is another name teams are throwing out there as a potential starter.

5. Trading For Next Year’s Draft

With so much uncertainty in the draft this year, team could simply “opt out” by packaging their picks in trades for next year’s draft. This year could be a buyer’s market in the mid-rounds with teams having less and less confidence in the player pool. Veteran general managers could be comfortable trading out of this year’s draft to stock up on future picks while new general managers look to make a splash could very well likely be a trend that occurs on Thursday and early Friday. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Texans make a move up in the draft if teams shed picks on Friday.