Houston Texans Draft: Priorities changed with Brandin Cooks trade

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans draft plans took a big turn when the franchise traded for Brandin Cooks earlier this month.

When they Houston Texans’ draft plans first came into place following their playoff loss, expired contracts, free agency decisions, and the trade of DeAndre Hopkins all this offseason, the guess was the Texans’ draft in the second round was going to include a wide receiver as they held onto two second round choices.

That all changed when the general manager/head coach Bill O’Brien made a surprising move and traded for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick with the Los Angeles Rams for a second-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft (57th overall).

When that trade happened, the Texans had a wide receiver roster of Cooks, Will Fuller, DeAndre Carter, Keke Coutee, Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb (a free agent signing), all but meaning any plans of seeing one of talented young wide receivers from the 2020 draft class be drafted by the Texans probably isn’t happening in the second round.

The Texans added a receiver in Cooks who had concussion issues last season with Los Angeles, as he played in 14 games where he totaled 42 receptions (72 targets) for just 583 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 13.9 yards per reception. For his career, Cooks averaged 14.3 ypr., plus has 34 career touchdown receptions.

Now where does that leave the Texans draft process with their second-round pick (40th overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft? One word that comes to mind where the priority lies with that selection on Day 2 of the draft is defense.

The Texans defense wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great last season when they won the AFC South championship with a week remaining in the season. Last season also included a playoff win in the Wild Card Round of the AFC Playoffs against the Buffalo Bills, where the Texans had issues with their defense at times in that game.

This Houston Texans draft must include a defensive player in the second round, and heck, even the third round pick at 90th overall needs to be a defensive player as well. Houston needs help with more pass rush off the edge, more help in the interior defensive line at tackle with D.J. Reader leaving the team in free agency (they did add Tim Jernigan in free agency), and at cornerback there are questions as well.

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That all takes us back to the priorities of the Texans draft because if players aren’t added to the defense on Day 2 or Day 3 — remember, the Texans sent their first-round pick for this year to the Miami Dolphins in the Laremy Tunsil trade — the unit will struggle, and it could be a long season for the Texans as they attempt to win their third consecutive AFC South championship, a feat never achieved by the Texans as they have won back-to-back division titles on three different occasions.

In a media press conference this week, O’Brien spoke about draft needs, including the defensive line as transcripts were provided by HoustonTexans.com:

"“I feel good about our defensive line, but when you lose a player like D.J. Reader, you’ve got to think about – you’re not going to be able to replace D.J. Reader because he was such an excellent player for what his skillset was and what he brought to the table.”"

O’Brien later added more about the defensive line, after speaking about J.J. Watt and others. One position mentioned by the head coach was safety:

"“But I would say defensive line – we’re looking at all the positions. Safety is another position I think we can add to. We’ve added Eric Murray, we’ve added Jaylen Watkins but we can continue to add depth there. I’d say there’s not one specific need but there’s several.”"

Again, the feeling seems to be that the Texans and O’Brien must draft defense early in the 2020 draft. Don’t be surprised to see more trades involving 2020 NFL Draft from the Texans draft final decision makers.

In all honesty, who knows … maybe the Texans gain more draft picks by trading out of the 40th overall selection? Maybe they can trade another wide receiver like Stills or Coutee (who both have been in trade rumors), or maybe the Texans stand pat and select a defensive player at 40th overall, and continue from there.

One thing is for certain, this could be an exciting Texans draft for the three-day event as “Trader Bill,” as O’Brien is known, could be on the phones all day, making trades from his home as the draft will take place during this current pandemic from the homes of those who keep the teams and league going.

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All in all, with the trade for Cooks, it has completely shifted the Texans draft focus to defense, or at least it should shift there, because as the old saying goes, “Defense wins championships.” Right now, the Texans need more players added to be a championship defense.