I’m a positive person, but reality is something that must be faced, not glossed over with snapchat filters, painted with Lisa Frank pastels, and selfies taken from a bird’s eye view. The truth isn’t something to fret, or scurry from, but to spelunk towards.
I would rather ask, what is the best draft pick in Houston Texans franchise history, but we all know the answer to that—it’s J.J. Watt. Then the second pick would be Deshaun Watson, then it would go Andre Johnson, Duane Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins, in that order. These things are truthful and known.
The unknown is more interesting by default. That thing around the corner, that thing soon to be illuminated by a quick flip, that thing we all want to know the answer too, but never will, and that in itself, is a beautiful thing. The diametric and dizygotic partner to this question, is who is the worst draft pick in Texans franchise history. This question is limitless, filled with various answers from various people, which offers a glimpse into one’s world view, and how they perceive this football team.
Who is the worst draft pick in Texans franchise history? This is the question I asked the masthead. These are our responses:
For me, it’s a tie. The last time the Texans had draft capital was way back in 2019. They had a midround first pick, and two second round picks, the plunders of the Duane Brown trade. This was also before the Texans had given up everything for a left tackle who is allergic to run blocking, and would rather run a Myspace page about being an artist, a fashionista, then play football itself and ignoring one’s nature. This draft should have spurned and put together the pieces of the Texans as they were led by Deshaun Watson into the future.
This didn’t happen.
Their pair of second round picks, selected with back to back selections, have been atrocious. Max Scharping’s Northern Illinois performances wouldn’t translate to the NFL. He turned the gate over and over again, playing in a quick pass offense with a mobile quarterback, creating fake PFF numbers that lied to you. He had a fine rookie year though, then fell apart. Nick Martin stole the weights during COVID’s breakthrough album phase, and he didn’t put the work into become strong enough to last on the interior. He’s weak, he’s meek, he’s aimless. He was terrible in 2020, and since then, has been benched for Justin McCray. The end is near for Scharping.
Then there’s Lonnie Johnson Jr. The people that lied to you told you he could be a physical press man corner, after playing a decent game in the slot against Kansas City in 2019. He didn’t do anything well in Kentucky, and was a body that needed to be taught how to play football. He can’t play man coverage, he can’t play press man, he misses tackles, he jaws at everyone like the little dog under the fence who is a nuisance to you and your family while you take your post dinner sunset stroll. He’s played slot corner, outside corner, safety, and outside corner again. His tackling has improved somewhat, he has no feel for the game at safety despite standing still to pick off passes, and there’s a chance maybe, playing cornerback in a defense that makes things easy for the cornerback position could bring life to him. After resigning Desmond King, and signing Steven Nelson, it too looks like the end is near.
The Texans needed two sure starters in this draft, and even more so once the team sold the world for Laremy Tunsil. They tried to improve the worst parts of the roster—offensive line and the secondary—with these selections, and completely failed. Max Scharping collapsed. Lonnie Johnson Jr. season is over.
Kahale Warring purely because I was right and Matt was wrong and I’ll never let that down.
DeVier Posey over Russell Wilson.
Rivers was literally pounding the table to draft Wilson. I know because I was there.
However, the correct answer is, and always will be, Travis Johnson over anykitteningbody else.
As I like to weave the tale, I was at a dive in Philly on a business trip watching the draft. After our pick, the bartender (in Philly!) bought me a shot because she knew how bad the pick was.
Worst draft pick in Texans’ history? Way too many candidates for a franchise this young. I’ll go a little more old-school and say Bennie Jorppu. A second round pick on a tight end who did absolutely nothing for the team in three seasons. The offensive struggles are not solely on him, but using that high a draft pick on a player like him, you would figure that he would make some meaningful contributions. That did not happen for whatever reason.
For honorable mention, you could include the mid-round picks from the 2013 draft. That was also a collective foul-up that hurt the team’s grander aspirations.
I’m stuck between Xavier Su’a-Filo and Lonnie Johnson Jr. Both seem to have been players who never should have gone as high as they did, stuck around far too long without living up to their draft status and given far too many chances to win the job despite the availability of better candidates either through the draft or free agency. Two guys who took up starter roster space without routinely contributing starter quality snaps. And, while Lonnie Johnson seems like a great guy, the notion that he’s become the public face of the Texans secondary right now, a secondary that’s arguably the worst in franchise history, speaks volumes.
There are so many factors that go into this. One of the things you have to measure is the production versus the level of expectation. It’s funny because I am running a couple of draft pieces next week, so I’ve looked into this a lot. There was a period of about three years when all of are third rounders turned into *kittens* and failed to even suit up for the Texans much less produce anything, but that would have to be some kind of negative draft parlay. I’m going with Kevin Johnson. The numbers will say he produced some because the team felt compelled to play him, but he never lived up to his billing. Some others failed as well, but he is the only first rounder I can think of that failed on that spectacular a level.
That’s really the tough part of this is that if someone gets on the field regularly then they cease to be a bust in most people’s eyes, but getting on the field is expected for a first rounder. In fact, they may get on the field when they shouldn’t if you have a coach that is trying to justify a pick. That more than anything is good reason to have one guy as GM and another as head coach.
There are a few that come to mind over the years, but I’m gonna go with an off-beat choice in Amobi Okoye at No. 10 overall in the 2007 draft. Okoye wasn’t a huge bust, but he was out of the league in six years, and never played up to expectations of a Top-10 pick as a Texan. Pair that with the choices taken just after him (Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lawrence Timmons in the next 5 picks) and it’s a prety embarassing miss for 2nd year GM Rick Smith that year.
Hindsight is 2020 but taking Sua’Filo at the top of the second round after getting caught with their pants down as Minnesota leap frogged them for Teddy Bridgewater was a big let down. Especially when you account for the fact that perennial pro bowler Joel Bitonio went just a few picks later. Sua’Filo then began to utterly compromise the line for the next gut wrenching 4 seasons after getting spoiled from the solid play of the unit prior to 2013. Rick Smith will get criticized for a lot of his drafts and this is one of the years that helped him earn his moniker of only being able to hit on first rounders.