Houston Texans have two differing examples of roster-building from Super Bowl teams
By Peter Manfre
The Houston Texans find themselves at an integral spot in their rebuild and it hinges around two different roster building approaches. It's two simple strategies with similar results: You either draft an elite quarterback and surround them with talent, or you draft to build up your roster so that when you get a quarterback the roster can help carry them.
We saw these two rosters play out during this past super bowl as the Philadelphia Eagles faced the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, who boast an all-generational quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, won because of their quarterback. The Eagles didn't lose because of their quarterback or because of bad defense, but simply because they faced an all-generational quarterback.
Both teams supported their quarterbacks in similar fashions. When the Chiefs famously traded up half the first round to select Patrick Mahomes, they already had an all-generational tight end, an elite play-calling head coach, as well as a good offensive line and weapons for Mahomes. The Eagles, who famously drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round while they had what was believed to be an elite quarterback in Carson Wentz at the time, have built their roster around Hurts as well.
For The most part, the Kansas City Chiefs dominance has been and will continue to be attributed to Mahomes and his greatness along with Andy Reid's play calling partnership with Mahomes. On the flip side, Jalen Hurts, who played at an MVP level this season, had a rough first two years in the league and grew with the roster.
The Eagles supported Hurts with a defense ranked third in the league, a dominant run game, and an elite offensive line. Additionally, they used two first-round selections, one via trade, for their top pass catchers, AJ Brown, and DeVonta Smith. Without the totality of the Eagles, could they have still made the Super Bowl? Maybe. Without Andy Reid can Mahomes make a Super Bowl? Maybe.
Either way, those rosters are still championship-caliber rosters. I'm not discrediting the rest of the roster Kansas City has, it's just as long as they have Mahomes, they'll always be in a championship window.
This goes back to the original point of the two different ways to build a roster. Both ways work, and in many ways, they overlap each other. What makes organizations great is when they can recognize where they are in the process of building a roster. Many times, franchises will draft a quarterback without anyone else around them and set them up for immediate failure. The Texans have already done this with David Carr and there are many former Jets quarterbacks who would agree.
In this year's NFL draft, The Texans are entering it with a roster that has arguably no more than four proven players who could be a part of a championship team. If the Texans traded away their entire draft for Patrick Mahomes, they still might not be good enough to win the AFC South and Mahomes is better than any quarterback in this year's draft class.
When a general manager, head coach, and an owner understand the reality of where their team is and draft for not only the needs of the team but grabbing the best players available, their team gets better incrementally. The Chiefs knew they were an elite quarterback away and so they reached for one in the 2017 draft and they got one. That's very rare.
If the Texans don't like a quarterback at number two overall, drafting one could set back their rebuild for up to three years. If the Texans draft a quarterback that's not good, the move could end up setting them back three years.
The difference lies in how the Texans see their roster and want to build it. I'm all for drafting a quarterback you believe in, but many reports agree if Bryce Young is gone at two, the Texans will pass on the quarterback because they don't love the others and instead invest in their defense. While those rumors may turn out to be just smokescreens and not reality, they could be true as well. This scenario shouldn't be met with rage from fans.
Between that and the common roster-building beliefs the Texans' new head coach Demeco Ryans brings with him from San Francisco, the best route might be to take the best player available. I know fans don't love that idea because there is such a need at quarterback, but again, look at the Jets as an example. They drafted Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson as the number two quarterbacks in that class and now they're looking at trading for a 39-year-old quarterback.
Personally, I believe that based on many different draft boards, the best player available for the first two picks the Texans have this year would be Will Anderson out of Alabama and Bijan Robinson out of the University of Texas.
The Texans are behind most other teams in terms of a rebuild, and that gives them and their new head coach the freedom to draft the best player available to build a roster that a quarterback can come in and thrive with. Don't be surprised if a quarterback isn't called in the first round by the Texans.