Houston Texans Offseason Manifesto: Approaching the draft
By Brian Emory
The 2021 NFL Draft will be important for the Houston Texans.
The Houston Texans currently hold eight picks — No. 67, No. 100, No. 113, No. 131, No. 164, No. 184, No. 189, and No. 195 — in the 2021 NFL Draft. Coming off such a dismal campaign, it’s a real bummer that Texans’ fans don’t have their first and second round picks to look forward to.
The Texans need talent in the worst way, and the NFL Draft is always an exciting time as it presents all teams with the opportunity to add future stars to the roster. Of course, it makes it a lot more difficult to find a star player or two when you are not selecting until the third round.
That does not mean this draft is not important. The Houston Texans are currently set to select seven times on Day 3, having those picks is a nice luxury for a team that is currently over the cap and will be rebuilding their roster.
Some of those Day 3 selections can serve as a source of cheap labor for Houston which they will sorely need. There is a very real chance the Texans will select players deep into Day 3 that could potentially get some serious playing time next season.
I’m sure there will be fans clamoring to see the Houston Texans move up higher into the 2021 NFL Draft, but I am almost always going to be opposed to sacrificing significant draft capital to move higher into the draft unless it is for a quarterback.
Houston should accept their current draft situation for what it is. Former head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien massively mismanaged assets on his way out the door, and new GM Nick Caserio will be left picking up the pieces.
That does not mean the Houston Texans should be chasing their losses by giving up more capital in the future to move higher up into the draft. The goal is to never be in a situation like this again.
In fact, I would love to see the Texans move back a couple of times in the draft. I know by the time pick No. 67 rolls around fans will obviously be impatient, but if the opportunity presents itself to move back a little bit to accumulate more draft capital I will almost always be a proponent of doing that.
Houston Texans: Draft the best players available
Another part of my draft philosophy: Draft the best player available.
Yes, the Houston Texans needs talent in the worst way defensively. However, if pick No. 67 rolls around and they have an offensive player ranked significantly higher on their big board than their top defensive player then they should take the offensive player.
A team like Houston, that is clearly rebuilding, should always have their sights set on the future. The Houston Texans need to draft the player that they believe can help the team the most three years from now, not necessarily the player that you think will help the most immediately.
Luckily for Houston, they can pretty much draft the best player available while also adding depth to a position group that needs it for each selection. Outside of quarterback, the Houston Texans more or less need an injection of talent and depth EVERYWHERE.
They really do not even have to feel the pressure of deciding between drafting the best player available and drafting for need, because in all likelihood almost any player they select will fill a need to some extent.
With all that being said, I would expect there to be some sort of emphasis placed on the defensive side of the ball heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. One of Caserio’s first tasks as the GM of the Houston Texans will be to rebuild a defense that is currently struggling severely.
The Texans defense will look entirely different in 2021, and don’t be surprised if the unit becomes a revolving door of sorts next season. Expect a consistent supply of new faces, and who knows, maybe Houston will uncover some diamonds in the rough in the process.
If the Texans do look to make some offensive additions, it would be smart to place a premium focus on the interior offensive line. Laremy Tunsil had another strong showing during the 2020 season, but Houston’s offensive line still performed as one of the worst units in the league. The future of the Houston Texans’ offensive line is still littered with uncertainty and questions.
If your scouting team does their due diligence, historically it shows that you can find really solid guards and centers in the middle rounds. In all likelihood, the Houston Texans will also need to add a running back and perhaps a receiver or two this offseason.
Again, it will more or less be impossible to plug all these holes in just one offseason. Especially when you realistically consider the arsenal of assets Houston currently has to work with.
While it is obviously far too soon to judge any of these players, the TExans did not get much production out of their 2020 rookie class. The Houston Texans only used five picks in 2020, and none of the selections have established themselves as anywhere near starter-caliber players yet.
However, a lot of these rookies barely even had a chance to see the field. Check out the snap count shared by Houston’s rookie class over the final nine games of the season:
It is also important to remember these players had a limited training camp and zero preseason, so it would be incredibly short-sighted to call any of them busts or wasted selections yet. It is imperative that Houston’s new front office places a significant emphasis on scouting.
If the Houston Texans want to get this rebuild off to a promising start, they need to get better production out of their 2021 rookie haul. Hopefully Caserio and the new head coach will share a vision that includes getting more youth onto the gridiron, even if the players will be faced with a steep learning curve.