The Houston Texans draft later this month could include Bill O’Brien making another big trade for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Why would any of us expect anything normal when the Texans draft comes to life later this month? Seeing how Houston Texans general manager/head coach Bill O’Brien has played his cards this offseason — with the signings and trades made — anything is possible come late April at the 2020 NFL Draft.
For all we know, the Texans draft ideas could be all over the table. The Texans have already traded their best wide receiver because of contract issues for a veteran running back and a second-round pick. Last season, the Texans made a surprise pick in the first round, so don’t expect a quiet evening for the first night of the 2020 NFL Draft just because the Texans currently don’t yet have a first-round pick.
The keyword in that last statement was “yet.” That is said because maybe the Texans’ draft decision makers decide to trade up in the selection process and because they possibly could covet a big-time pass rusher who is a first-round talent.
That pass rusher just could be Yetur Gross-Matos of Penn State University, which is where O’Brien first became a head football coach after leaving the New England Patriots. Gross-Matos is a 6’5, 266-pound defensive end who measured in with 34 7/8” arms and 9 3/4” hands at the NFL Combine. He also had 20 reps of the bench press, plus a vertical jump of 34 inches.
Though Gross-Matos played a 4-3 defense in college, all players must adjust and adapt how they play once the join an NFL roster.
Don’t believe me? Look back at the draft profile of J.J. Watt, who plays in the Texans’ 3-4 scheme, because at Wisconsin, the future All-Pro was described as a 4-3 end. He’s done quite well in varying schemes with the Texans in his career as he became a three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Back to Gross-Matos, as the Texans have to wait until the 40th overall selection to make their draft choice, so there is a chance the highly touted defensive end and his pass rush abilities could be drafted before that turn arrives. That means if the Texans wanted to make a move at Gross-Matos, they would be forced to trade up in this draft.
Would the reward be worth the risk on a player whom Lance Zierlein of NFL.com describes as a “boom or bust” prospect? Gross-Matos in 2019 totaled 40 tackles, but 24 of those were solo, while also adding 9.5 sacks for the Nittany Lions. The previous season, Gross-Matos totaled eight sacks and even added two forced fumbles.
Against the Ohio State Buckeyes last season, Gross-Matos recorded two sacks against a very stout Ohio State offense, while he also had two sacks against Purdue and a sack each against Indiana and against Memphis in the Cotton Bowl Classic. His other 3.5 sacks came against Idaho (2.5) and Buffalo (one).
If the Texans draft choice was to trade up into the first round for Gross-Matos, well, they might have to trade at least the 40th overall pick and at least another day two selection, right? Houston isn’t getting any younger at defensive end with Watt about to enter his 10th season in the league, all while coming off a season where he missed eight games.
There is also the fact the teams the Texans are scheduled to face in 2020 are tough, as that schedule includes the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs once again. Gross-Matos would add to a pass rush that needs some improvement, and with his agility, size and knowing he hasn’t even reached his full potential, maybe the risk of trading up for the “boom or bust” prospect could be worth it.
The Texans need to start making some more noise when they are in the playoffs. Granted, they won a Wild Card game last season, but they need to start advancing past the Divisional Round, and a player like Gross-Matos could be just the player the Texans draft to keep going in the right direction.