The biggest need for the Houston Texans this offseason is finding their franchise quarterback. But with their first selection in the upcoming NFL Draft not until pick #16, it is unlikely one of the two top-tier quarterback prospects, Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, will fall into Houston’s lap.
So instead, ESPN analyst Todd McShay has the Texans preparing to protect their quarterback of the future, whomever that might be, by beefing up their offensive line. Here’s his prediction for Houston’s first round pick from his latest mock draft:
With the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select…
Oct 18, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal offensive tackle Andrus Peat (70) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. The Sun Devils defeated the Cardinal 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Andrus Peat, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
Here is McShay’s explanation of the selection:
"“The Texans need a quarterback, but aren’t going to find one here. Pass catchers Devin Funchess (Michigan) or Jaelen Strong (Arizona State) would be options, although both are slight reaches this early. So I’ll have them take Peat, who fills a need and is a steal at this point in the draft. The more I watch him on tape, the more I appreciate how quick his feet are. He’s also tall, has long arms and good awareness, and possesses good power as a blocker. He needs to improve his consistency as a finisher, but he’s young and should continue to get better.”"
Obviously, offensive lineman do not make sexy picks. But the Dallas Cowboys had tremendous success with their lineman pick from this exact same first round selection spot last year with Notre Dame’s Zack Martin. The offensive guard was the only rookie to be named to the NFL’s All-Pro first team in 2014.
Peat, a 6-6, 315 pound underclassman out of Stanford, is currently ranked as the 13th best available player in this year’s draft according to Scout’s Inc with an overall grade of 91. But draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. actually has Peat ranked as only the fifth best player at his position and Peat does not appear on Kiper’s Top 25/Big Board.
The Houston Texans’ offense was ranked 17th in the NFL last season in total yards. They were 24th in passing offense and 5th in rushing. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked 21 times in 11 games last season.
Of the starters along Houston’s offensive line, tackle Duane Brown, guard Ben Jones, center Chris Myers, guard Brandon Brooks and tackle Derek Newton, only Newton is a free agent this offseason. Peat could certainly help fill his void if the lineman is not re-signed.
Brown is a stud and three-time Pro Bowler. Myers and Brooks are solid starters as well. Jones is considered the weak link of this group. But the Texans selected his possible replacement, guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, in the second round last year.
Although the quarterback position the most important for Houston to fill this offseason, it would be hard to argue the Texans’ logic in electing to beef up their offensive line in an effort to protect their future investment.