The Houston Texans’ 2019 NFL Draft is in the books, and their haul of young prospects is certainly one of the more interesting ones in the league.
Here are three takeaways from what was a bit of an up-and-down draft for the Texans.
UH OH, LINE
Last week, this column not only pointed out the obvious top area of need — offensive tackle — for the Texans entering the draft, but also urged the team to trade up for the top OT prospect. They didn’t, and it cost them.
The Texans likely would have needed to trade up into the No. 10-15 pick range to get a top guy ready to plug in and play right away — a franchise tackle to protect a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, who was sacked a ludicrous 62 times last season.
With the No. 10 pick, the Denver Broncos were willing trade partners to swap picks, but it would be the Pittsburgh Steelers that took advantage. The Texans, it appeared, looked content to stand pat with their No. 23 pick.
The next two offensive linemen came off the board at No. 14 and No. 18, but with both those prospects projected to be interior linemen, the Texans were still in good shape to get a quality, NFL-ready OT. Then, the Philadelphia Eagles swooped in, trading up to the No. 22 pick to take the next-best tackle.
On the clock, the Texans were left with little recourse but to take the next-best tackle after that —Tytus Howard from Alabama State — with their first round pick. Many draft experts didn’t see Howard going off the board until the second or third round, as there is more potential than proof whether or not the massive small-school enigma can be a good professional player.
But, it’s only a reach if the young man doesn’t pan out.
IN THE MIDDLE
While, ultimately, history will judge the Texans’ 2019 draft performance on how their first round pick Howard develops, the Texans did land some intriguing prospects after Day 1 of the Draft.
With their first of two back-to-back second round picks, the Texans added depth to a thin secondary with Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson, whose long frame could help the unit match up better with the NFL’s larger receivers and pass-catching tight ends. The second of the Texans’ second round picks went to another impressive physical specimen at OT with Northern Illinois’ Max Scharping, but another one that might need some fine tuning before being NFL ready.
In the third round, the Texans got a potential sleeper in San Diego State tight end Kahale Warring, who could develop into an excellent asset to Watson as both an option in the passing game and as a blocker. With veteran Ryan Griffin and two TEs drafted in the mid-rounds last year, this didn’t address a pressing need — that is, until Griffin was arrested on charges of vandalism and public intoxication after punching out a Nashville hotel window on the same night the Texans drafted Warring, putting his status with the typically straight-laced franchise in jeopardy.
The Texans got good value in the fifth round with Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Charles Omenihu, adding more depth to what is already a strong pass rushing unit.
NO BACKUP BACKS
One of the top stories about the Texans’ 2019 draft class was what it didn’t include — a running back.
With incumbent starter Lamar Miller nearing the end of his contract and projected backup D’Onta Foreman having missed nearly all of the 2018 season from a late-2017 Achilles injury, many expected the Texans to use one of their picks on a running back, but the closest they came to doing that was taking fullback Cullen Gillaspia out of Texas A&M in the seventh round.
Gillaspia is more likely to put in work on special teams than line up in the backfield for the Texans, who didn’t even have a true fullback on the roster last season. Hopefully this is a sign the Texans have faith in the Texas City native Foreman being their running back of the future after he showed flashes of promise during his injury-shortened rookie season in 2017.