With the 2015 NFL Draft quickly approaching there is a ton of speculation and rumors being thrown around about every team, player and position possible. The Houston Texans are definitely a team in the middle of such debate, and most seem to believe the main position that Houston should target is wide receiver.
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It would make sense for the team to focus their attention to this area, considering they have already moved on from their former star receiver Andre Johnson this offseason. However, thanks to the young breakout star DeAndre Hopkins and the team bringing in veterans wide outs like Cecil Shorts III and Nate Washington, receiver may not be the target for this front office.
There could be a very good chance that the team waits to draft some young talent at the position and instead takes the best player available approach. They may also be able to do this to continue their youth movement/budget cutting that has gone on since the 2014 season ended.
Head coach Bill O’Brien and the front office showed they are not afraid to let veterans walk, no matter how popular, by letting Johnson go. To replace the 33 year-old, they are turning to the soon to be 23 year-old Hopkins, 27 year-old Shorts and just to have some veteran presence there is the 31 year-old Washington.
Age was not the only factor, as these three combined are not close to approaching the $21 million Johnson was due over the final two years of his deal.
So this brings me to the next high priced veteran on the roster, running back Arian Foster. Foster, much like Johnson, is a huge fan favorite and just the thought of him not being on the team can evoke some anger.
But let’s look at this from a different angle. Foster is set to count $8.9 million this season and $9.5 million in 2016 according to Overthecap.com. That is a lot of money for a guy at the most interchangeable and devalued position in football.
It sounds like even more money when you add in the fact that Foster has missed 11 games over the past two seasons and will be 29 before the year starts.
It’s a rare occasion in today’s NFL that a running back remains healthy and effective as they approach their 30’s. Now, in all fairness, Foster was extremely productive last season when healthy, but as he ages, will that continue?
Which brings us back to the draft and what the team will do when they are on the board in the middle of the first round. What if a transcendent star is available like Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Should Houston pull the trigger and perhaps move on from Foster while saving money and getting younger in the process?
Standing 6’1″ and 222 pounds Gurley was a beast in the SEC for the Bulldogs and averaged a total of 7.4 yards per carry in his final season. His worst season average wise was 2013 when he was at 6.0 yards per carry.
Just take a look at what the scouts had to say about him on his NFL.com draft profile.
"“Rare blend of speed and power. Immense power in legs and shows balance through contact. Shreds arm tackles and has speed to house it. Very hard to tackle on an angle. Professional, decisive runner.”"
These same scouts compared Gurley to current Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who has been a beast in the league for years now.
Gurley is a top-five talent who unfortunately tore his ACL in 2014 and therefore could still be around for Houston. If he is, the team should strongly consider writing his name down and continuing the youth movement that they began this offseason.
It doesn’t make sense to pass on such a talented player who will only be 21 years-old when the first game is played simply because an aging star is still on the roster. The teams that make it deep into the playoffs understand this, and I believe Bill O’Brien does as well.