Houston Texans News: What the draft taught us about GM Bill O’Brien
The Houston Texans news now switches from the players in the draft to looking at what this past weekend taught us about general manager Bill O’Brien.
Maybe it was fitting that the Houston Texans news coming during the draft this past Friday was general manager Bill O’Brien yelling at his computer in frustration — at least that is how things looked — in the third round. O’Brien said he wasn’t “angry,” but even with that point taken, that was one of the nationally mentioned talking points about the Texans and not the players they’ve drafted.
Part one of the Texans’ multi-year trade with the Miami Dolphins took place at the 2020 NFL Draft as the Texans didn’t select at 26th overall, and that trend will even be more ramped up next year when the Texans don’t have their first- or second-round pick, as Miami also gained those in the Laremy Tunsil trade.
The bad Texans news from the Tunsil trade is he’s still not signed to a long-term deal (but did sign an extension), but they are paying him $22 million per season for the next three years. There is the fact the Texans still don’t have a first- or second-round selection. The positive from the general manager O’Brien and the trade from last season is he managed to keep Tunsil for the next three seasons, giving Deshaun Watson a franchise tackle he has to have to be successful.
There are also the trades made this offseason, where DeAndre Hopkins was traded for running back David Johnson and the 40th overall pick, plus a pick next season. The 40th overall selection turned into Ross Blacklock, a defensive tackle from TCU to replace D.J. Reader, but the Texans have never and won’t replace Hopkins.
The Texans used their own second-round pick (57th overall) to trade to the Los Angeles Rams for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, while the Rams used that pick to select Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson.
All of that decision making out of the way, exactly what does that say about O’Brien as the official general manager of the Texans?
In comments made to the media following the NFL Draft on day two, the general manager O’Brien said the following about the defensive front seven:
"“I definitely think we’ve improved. We’re pretty good on defense. We’ve got a lot of depth in the offseason. Like I was saying the other day when I talked to you guys, we were able to sign a lot of our guys back and then we were able to add some good free agents … I feel good about the defensive side of the ball. I feel really good about where we’re at.”"
If there is one thing about O’Brien, it is he’s very confident in his decision-making skills. Like it or not, you can see if he learned anything from his former boss Bill Belichick, it is that his decisions are final and it is his way or the highway, so to speak.
Moving forward, there could be more unpopular decisions to be made about the Texans and the roster. The Texans can’t go back-to-back years without a first-round pick, can they? If that is the case, O’Brien is going to have to figure out some way to get back into the early rounds of the draft, and that only means trading top players or draft capital from future seasons.
Again, if we didn’t already know, we know now that the Texans news is O’Brien will make the tough trades — decisions involving star players — and not think twice about it. That can be either a good trait, or a trait that could (and seemingly has) turned the fan base against O’Brien.
To be honest, who can blame any fan for being upset with O’Brien for trading Hopkins? In the Sports Illustrated cover article, Hopkins stated he knew he wasn’t returning to the Texans following their playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The decision made by O’Brien could have been personal, as some have said, or it could have come down to a contract extension that O’Brien wasn’t going to make with Hopkins. Either way, the decision was a bad one, and it will affect the Texans offense this upcoming season.
Even with the additions of both David Johnson and Brandin Cooks, plus the addition of Randall Cobb, the Texans news that should be apparent is the offense isn’t near the level it could be if Hopkins was still on the roster.
This entire offseason and draft process, what we’ve all learned about the general manager Bill O’Brien is he’s going to do his job the way he wants to do it, no matter the consequences to the team as a whole, and with no thought into what the fan base reaction will be, either.