As part of being the writer covering the AFC South I took on the job of being the Houston Texans GM in this year’s NFLUKMock. The needs for the Texans entering this year’s draft are fairly clear. After trading away Duane Brown the offensive line has become the first, second and third primary need. They could also benefit from some depth in their secondary but these are not huge priorities given the rest of their defence and the acquisition of Tyrann Mathieu. The twist in drafting for the Texans is that they do not have a pick until the start of the third round. This made it extremely hard to plan what direction to go in and trying to circle players was a frustrating exercise. In the end I just ranked all the players at every position and then focused mostly on the offensive line initially. Throughout the first two rounds I kept a close eye on any major values at other positions. Here is how the draft has gone so far:
Pick 68 (3.4): Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Coming out of college Orlando Brown was rated extremely highly. He was a noted run blocker and despite being earmarked as more of a right tackle than left tackle he still had some first round discussion. He then had a disastrous combine in terms of measurables but he did interview well. He does have issues in pass protection and had both good and bad games at Oklahoma. However, at pick 68 there felt like very little risk in taking Brown. As I have mentioned above the Texans offensive line is an area that needs widespread improvement. Despite the reservations about his workout regimen there is every chance he would be the starting right tackle for the Texans in 2018. Quite simply this was a no-brainer at this point in the draft with very little risk and a lot of upside.
Pick 80 (3.16): Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Running back is not a huge area of need for Houston but Lamar Miller is definitely slowing down and I am not sure what D’Onta Foreman will be. Chubb is a tough runner to take down and has relatively few miles on the clock thanks to Georgia using him in a committee approach in most of his college career. I expected a good outing at the combine to mean he would be gone at this point. When he was still available I did not hesitate to get a guy who could easily be the Texans running back on the first two downs this season. He has also shown flashes catching the ball and so if he can demonstrate good pass protection early in 2018 he could quickly become an every down back. He could be the battering ram that opens up the chance for Deshaun Watson to make big plays down the field.
Traded out of pick 98 (3.34): Obtained 117 (4.17) and 153 (5.16)
There was no one screaming out to me at this pick and at this stage depth is perhaps the most important thing for this team. Therefore, dropping back to gain an extra fourth round pick and a fifth round pick was an easy decision.
Pick 103 (4.3): Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
Christian has experience protecting a mobile quarterback having been in the Louisville offensive line that protected Lamar Jackson. He may not be an every day starter but he has a lot of tools for an NFL team to be able to build on. At the very least he will be a good project in camp that will put pressure on the starters and could improve enough to start day one. With Deshaun Watson entering his second year Christian could be protecting his blindside for many years to come.
Pick 117 (4.17): Scott Quessenberry, OG/C, UCLA
Contrary to Brown, Quessenberry is a good pass blocker but a so-so run blocker. When you have an offensive line with this many holes it makes sense to get a guy who could push to start at any one of three positions on the offensive line. There was also a little bit of emotion is this pick as the opportunity to bring together two Quessenberrys on the same offensive line was too much to pass up. In all seriousness the Texans so desperately need to improve across their offensive line it is really just a case of getting as many young guys as possible and hoping a couple of them work out.
Pick 153 (5.16): Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
I had been eyeing up a couple of secondary players with my second pick of the fourth round but after grabbing two tackles I wanted to get an interior offensive lineman. Getting Averett here is my third steal of the draft. Some people believe he has the talent to go at the lower end of the first round and the consensus is that he will go no later than the third. He might not be a first year starter but I do not think he needs to be. He is an extremely intelligent player and I believe it is easier to gain physical attributes such as weight and strength than it is to catch-up mentally. I eventually see Averett as at least a second corner and potentially a low end number one. He will need to work on his playmaking having registered zero interceptions in 2018. All of his flaws I see as coachable and getting him here is an incredible bargain.
Pick 177 (6.03): Sean Welsh, OG, Iowa
I nearly took Welsh two rounds earlier but plumped for Quessenberry instead. Safe to say I am very happy to add another interior offensive lineman who has logged time at centre, guard and right tackle. Welsh could be a very handy contributor as a swingman offensive lineman. He may not start immediately but his versatility will offer a ton of value to the Texans offence.
Picks remaining: 177 (6.3), 211 (6.33), 214 (6.36), 222 (7.4)
Having got four offensive linemen, a quality running back and a cornerback with a lot of upside the only need is now some depth at safety. Beyond that I am going to be looking at upside pieces that can be coached up to at least reserve role in 2018. Being in a position to simply go best player available is nice. If that player is an offensive lineman I could leave this draft with the Texans having a whole new offensive line!