Houston Texans Draft: Third round has mixed results in recent memory

Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
Justin Reid, Houston Texans
Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2021 NFL Draft will be the third time in the past four years the Houston Texans won’t be selecting in the first round of a draft, and it will also be the second time in the past four seasons they aren’t scheduled to be making a pick in the second round, either.

With the ways things sit going into the start of the draft on Thursday, the Houston Texans won’t be making a selection until the third pick of the third round, which is the 67th overall pick, but unfortunately for this franchise, waiting that long to make a pick isn’t something new.

Last year, the Texans didn’t make a pick until the 40th overall selection (Round 2), and in ’18 the Texans didn’t pick until the 68th overall pick (Round 3), as that year the Texans had three selections in the third round.

Round three is special for the Texans this season because they are in the midst of rebuilding their franchise, and they can’t be making any mistakes when it comes to this 67th overall selection, especially if that does, in fact, become the first time they make a selection in this year’s draft.

Looking back at last year’s third-round selection, it was Jonathan Greenard of Florida. The defensive end was the 90th overall selection, and the second pick the Texans made in 2020 under then general manager Bill O’Brien. Greenard played in 13 games last season, including making one start. In those games, he totaled 110 solo tackles, one sack, one pass defensed, two tackles for loss and three QB hits.

Greenard played in just 24 percent of the defensive snaps, amounting to 265 plays in ’20, and he played on special teams as well (143 snaps).

In ’19, the Houston Texans drafted Kahale Warring, a tight end from San Diego State University. Warring missed the entire ’19 season due to injury, and in ‘20 he played in just seven games with no starts in an uneventful season. In the games played, Warring was targeted seven times where he made three receptions for 35 yards with no touchdowns.

Warring played in 52 offensive snaps in ’20, equaling just five percent of the total plays on offense by the Texans. For the second straight season, Warring was on the IR list, which he started the season on. He was activated from the IR in late November 2020.

Houston Texans Draft: 2018 brought two starters to roster in third round

Looking back to the ’18 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans had three third-round picks, being the 68th, 80th and 98th overall selections. The players chosen were Justin Reid (safety), Martinas Rankin (tackle) and Jordan Akins (tight end).

This was a good third round of the draft for the Texans, considering they acquired Reid from Stanford with the 68th overall pick. Reid is a three-year starter for the Texans and has five career interceptions. He played in 44 games, making 40 starts, and is one of the best players on the Houston defense entering the ’21 season.

Reid has made no fewer than 12 starts in each of his first three seasons with the Texans, and during his 13 games played in ’20 Reid made two sacks, 62 solo tackles, six tackles for loss and four QB hits. Reid didn’t have an interception for the first time in his three-year career.

Jordan Akins is another player for the Texans from the third round who has made starts and helped the franchise in recent memory. In three seasons, Akins has played in 45 games, making 20 starts where he’s collected 90 receptions on 129 targets for 1,046 yards. Akins is averaging 11.6 yards per reception and has scored three touchdowns.

Akins played in 41 percent of the offensive snaps (405 plays) for the Texans in ’20, but in ’19 in 16 games he played in 61 percent of the offensive snaps, equaling a total of 655 plays. Akins has had to share time in his career with tight ends such as Darren Fells and Jordan Thomas, but with neither being on the roster in ’21, maybe this will be the season Akins will get even more of an opportunity considering he already has a body of work with the franchise.

As for Rankin, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 for running back Carlos Hyde. While in Houston in ’18, Rankin made four starts and was active for 16 games, where he played in 430 plays of offense (39 percent).

Since joining the Chiefs, Rankin has made six starts in the past two seasons, playing in 326 plays.

Going back just a bit further, other third-round picks for the Houston Texans have included running back D’Onta Foreman (89th overall, 2017), wide receiver Braxton Miller (85th overall, 2016), wide receiver Jalen Strong (70th overall, 2015), and in 2014 third-round picks included C.J. Fiedorowicz (65th overall) and Louis Nix (83rd overall).

Not every draft pick for the Houston Texans or any NFL team is going to be a success. A lot has to go right for a player and team for things to work out and be successful. That said, when looking toward the 2021 NFL Draft later this week, the Texans can’t afford to miss on the 67th overall selection, as that is their top pick going into the event.

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Things could change between now and when the three-day draft begins, but as for now with the third round being the first time the Texans make a choice, the franchise needs to hope and make sure they make the right decision because it wouldn’t be best for the team to take another step backward entering the ’21 season.