The Texans have some high powered weapons on both sides of the ball. They need to make some low cost additions to increase this team’s potential before they waste some of their veterans’ prime years. This is where the draft comes into play.
The Houston Texans have possibly the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league in Deshaun Watson. His duel threat ability puts massive amounts of stress on defenses and his arm and leg talent are equally impressive. The offensive line is an utter mess to say the least. they ranked 27th in run blocking and dead last in pass protection giving up 62 sacks. That number is by far the highest of any team in the NFL and the line should be a key area of focus for this draft.
The Texans have three running backs on the roster, all of which are expendable at this point. Lamar Miller was hoped to be a bell cow but has proven to be highly inefficient. D’Onta Foreman showed signs of potential but tore his Achilles and is coming back after a lost 2018 season. Alfred Blue is exactly what he is, a back up running back, so the position should also be looked at during the draft.
At wide receiver the Texans just need to stay healthy and they have a stellar group. DeAndre Hopkins is arguably the best wide receiver in the league and did not commit a single drop last season. Keke Coutee came to life after injury derailed the start of his season and had a huge playoff game. Will Fuller has shown his eye-popping speed and surprising red zone efficiency when not injured. Ryan Griffen and Jordan Thomas round out a run of the mill tight end group but with major focus on other positions and a weak tight end class, I think they pass on 2019.
The middle of the defensive line needs to be addressed at some point in this draft. D.J. Reader showed flashes of ability early in 2018 but disappeared in the middle of the season. At the edge positions the Texans are good. They employ former defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, run stopping specialist and physical force Jadeveon Clowney, and strongside linebacker Whitney Mercilus. The edge although deep in this class can be passed upon this year.
The linebackers seem good for now with a solid trio. We mentioned Whitney Mercilus and he is joined by a pair of linebackers coming off 100 tackle seasons in Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham. The team could use to add a little depth at the position as after those three it gets pretty thin.
When it comes to the secondary the Texans could add some players in this draft. They lost two key players from this defense last season in Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu. They did add veteran Tashaun Gipson to play strong safety alongside rookie standout Justin Reid, though I think they could draft an upgrade. Bradley Roby was also added to the team but will most likely stick to nickel corner as putting him outside was a failed experiment. Aaron Colvin is a capable cornerback but after him the team gets thin, they should use the draft to upgrade the position.
Round 1, Pick #23 Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety- Florida
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to me replicates exactly what running mate Justin Reid is. They both have high level ball skills mixed with powerful tackling ability. Both can play either safety position giving the Texans some solid versatility in their secondary. Gardner-Johnson has a powerful build at 5’11 and 210 Lbs. and he also ran a 4.48 second 40 yard dash at the combine.
Every year at Florida you saw constant improvement in his game which shows incredible potential. In three seasons he totaled 161 tackles (71 in 2018), 15.5 tackles for a loss (9 in 2018), four sacks ( three in 2018), nine interceptions, 12 passes defended and three touchdowns. Not only does he show elite ball skills but his support in run defense is top-notch as well. Slotting him in next to Justin Reid makes a nice and youthful duo.
Round 2, Pick #54 Elgton Jenkins, Center/Offensive Guard- Mississippi St.
Jenkins is the pick here due to his consistency against elite level talent in the SEC. He has a broad a powerful frame that should keep the pocket clean for Deshaun Watson. Jenkins does a good job at dissecting plays reading linebacker movements well and adjusting his blocks. He is a plus interior blocker sealing off gaps up the middle with ease. Strong hands and excellent use of leverage make this pick easy for a team with a terrible offensive line.
Round 2, Pick #55 David Edwards, Offensive Tackle- Wisconsin
David Edwards is a former quarterback that added weight and became an offensive tackle and a darn good one at that. Even though he added weight he maintained his nimble feet and slides on the line very well. He is very quick off the snap during pass sets allowing him to get into position before rush moves can be made.
The Texans have failed to find any option to replace the loss of Duane Brown at tackle. Edwards still needs to add some strength to his frame but his ability to pass block and run block at the second level make him the pick. With a team that has such a poor offensive line, why not use two straight selections in the second round on lineman.
Round 3, Pick #87 Damien Harris, Running Back- Alabama
Harris is a very powerful runner and has enjoyed a more than stellar college career. In four seasons, many splitting time, he totaled 3,070 rushing yards at 6.4 yards per carry and 23 touchdowns. He is a no-nonsense type of back that reads his blocks very well and is incredibly patient behind his offensive line. Harris always keeps his legs moving and his powerful frame usually allows him to pick up extra yardage.
Two things that he does not get enough credit for is his pass catching ability and blitz pickup. Josh Jacobs has been said to be the pass catching back from Alabama but Harris has always displayed very soft hands and is very good in space. He also has zero issue with digging down and laying down some hits in blitz pickup, something that could win his quarterback’s love after being sacked 62 times in 2018.
Round 5, Pick #162 Jimmy Moreland, Cornerback- James Madison University
When you talk about corner’s with ball skills in this draft Jimmy Moreland’s name has to be spoken. In 2018 he led the country,in pick sixes with three, was number one in interception return yards with 217, and ninth in the nation in interceptions. He took interceptions to the house in three consecutive games in route to a consensus First Team All-American.
In his three years at James Madison Moreland put up 128 tackles, an outstanding 42 passes defended and 14 interceptions. Moreland drops this far in the draft due to his small school opponents and also small stature. He only stands at 5’11 and 175 Lbs. but that does not take away his ability to make plays. Moreland to me is worth the risk here in the fifth round.
Round 6, Pick #197 Azeez Al-Shaair, Linebacker- Florida Atlantic
Here is another small school signing but one who put up some real impressive numbers. During his time at Florida Atlantic Al-Shaair totaled 395 tackles, 31 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, six passes defended, one interception, one forced fumble and a touchdown in 43 games. During his Junior season he exploded for 146 tackles with 10 for a loss and 2.5 sacks in 13 games. That is just over 11 tackles per game which is lights out.
Watch tape of Al-Shaair and you will see relentless pursuit. He is incredibly athletic and slips blocks with ease in route to making tackles. He plays much bigger than his 226 Lbs. frame leads you to believe and is a hard hitter. With solid linebackers on the squad Al-Shaair most likely becomes a special teams ace gunner with the ability to step in and make a difference if needed on defense.
Round 7, Pick #222 Joe Gaziano, Defensive Tackle- Northwestern
Gaziano was a disruptive force on the defensive line for Northwestern during his college career. He finished with 103 tackles, 32 tackles for a loss, 21 sacks, 10 passes defended, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Gaziano has very active hands on the line proving very effective at the strip sack and also batting down passes at the line. With how thin the Texans are at the interior line positions Gaziano could see himself in a battle to start.
The Texans do a solid job at attacking needs in this draft. With their first pick they try to replace Tyrann Mathieu by drafting Chauncey Gardner-Johnson out of Florida. The hope there is to pair him long-term with Justin Reid to form a very versatile safety duo. With two second round picks the Texans attack the glaring need for offensive lineman. They draft center/guard Elgton Jenkins and tackle David Edwards. With their third round selection the Texans draft their possible running back of the future in powerhouse runner Damien Harris out of Alabama.
With the teams next three picks they go more small school reaches hoping the numbers translate to the NFL. In the fifth they grab Jimmy Moreland from James Madison who was a First Team All-American who showed elite ball skills from the corner position. For their sixth round pick they draft linebacker depth and possible special teams ace Azeez Al-Shaair from Florida Atlantic. With the teams final pick they grab gritty Joe Gaziano out of Northwestern to add some punch to the defensive interior.
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