Draft Rewind – Houston Texans

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With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror and training camps a few weeks away, we continue to take a look back at each team’s hits and misses over the past 25 years.

The Texans have only been in the league 13 years, so they don’t have a significant database to pull from. Let’s check them out anyway.

FIVE BEST PICKS

1. J.J. Watt, DL, Wisconsin. 1st round, #11 overall in 2011.

You could make an argument that Watt’s first four seasons in the league have been as good as the first four of the best DL ever: Reggie White, Deacon Jones, Joe Greene, and Alan Page. He has been that dominant. The numbers are staggering: 57 sacks in 64 starts (another five sacks in four playoff games) and 37 passes knocked down. He is a destructive force and has the work ethic to get even better. The top ten picks in the 2011 draft were good overall, but Tennessee (Jake Locker) and Jacksonville (Blaine Gabbert) have to be kicking themselves for passing on Watt.

2. Owen Daniels, TE, Wisconsin. 4th round, #98 overall in 2006.

Five years earlier, Houston got another steal from Wisconsin. In 100 games with the Texans, Daniels caught 385 passes and scored 29 TDs. He has had a problem staying healthy, but that’s still a great return for a fourth round pick. For comparison, his numbers trail only slightly those of ’06 draft alum Vernon Davis, and easily better all the other TEs drafted ahead of him that year (Mercedes Lewis, Joe Klopfenstein, Anthony Fasano, Tony Sheffler, David Thomas, and Dominique Byrd). Daniels has also held his own as a blocker in the run game.

3. Andre Johnson, WR, Miami. 1st round, #3 overall in 2003.

As mentioned before, a top-five pick has to be outstanding to warrant mention here. Johnson has been just that: his season average is 84 – 1133 – 5 (despite missing 16 games to injury), and he trails only Megatron all-time in receiving yards per game (five season minimum). He also has sole possession of three NFL records: most games with 10+ receptions; most seasons with 100+ receptions and 1,400+ yards; and is the only player with 60+ receptions his first eight seasons. His 12 year career is on par with the first 12 years of Hall of Famers Andre Reed, Art Monk, Steve Largent, James Lofton, and Fred Biletnikoff.

4. Duane Brown, OT, Virginia Tech. 1st round, #26 overall in 2008.

It took a little while, but Brown has established himself as one of the better LT in football. He has been the main reason the Texans’ running game has been ranked in top eight four times since he entered the league in ’08. Three Pro Bowls and a first team All-Pro later, a re-draft would easily see Brown drafted among the first eight selections.

5. DeMeco Ryans, LB, Alabama. 2nd round, #33 overall in 2006.

Two rounds before the Texans selected Daniels they got another steal. Ryans was Defensive Rookie of the Year and went to two Pro Bowls before being traded to the Eagles after his sixth season in Houston. “Mufasa” was the anchor in the middle of their defense, notching over 100 tackles in four straight seasons.

FIVE WORST PICKS

1. David Carr, QB, Fresno St. 1st round, #1 overall in 2002.

2002 was the inaugural draft for the Texans, and they were in search of a franchise QB. In hindsight, there weren’t any available; the 2002 class was historically bad at the position and produced one serviceable QB (David Garrard). To his credit, Carr wasn’t a complete disaster along the lines of Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell. He actually led the league in completion percentage in 2006. But the team didn’t win games, and he was pummeled relentlessly behind a porous OL. He was sacked over three times a game on average, and fumbled 68 times in 75 starts.

2. Tony Hollings, RB, Georgia Tech. 2nd round, 2003 Supplemental Draft.

The Texans fell in love with Hollings’ brief but impressive Ramblin’ Wreck resume: 633 yards and 11 TDs in only four games. The converted DB tore his ACL, missed the rest of the season, and entered the ’03 Supplemental Draft. Houston forfeited a 2004 2nd pick on him, and it proved a terrible decision. Hollings couldn’t stay healthy, started one game in three years, and scored as many NFL TDs as you and I. Karlos Dansby, Darnell Dockett, and Jared Allen would have been available with the pick the Texans gave up in 2004.

3. Travis Johnson, DT, Florida St. 1st round, #16 overall in 2005.

The good news: the Texans traded down three spots in round 1 and picked up a 3rd round pick that they used on solid starting OL Eric Winston. The bad news: the 13th pick they gave the Saints was Pro Bowl OL Jammal Brown, and Johnson was nothing more than an average DT in the NFL. The numbers are ugly: 103 tackles and three sacks in 76 career games.

4. Bennie Joppru, TE, Michigan. 2nd round, #41 overall in 2003.

Joppru had a decent Senior season with the Wolverines, catching 53 balls and scoring 5 TDs. Houston saw something nobody else did, and picked him early in the second round. He rewarded them by tearing his groin in successive seasons, tearing up his knee in his third year, and getting cut in year four. In 18 career games, Joppru recorded four special teams tackles. Among the many TE the Texans passed on that actually caught a pass in the NFL:  Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.

5. Amobi Okoye, DE, Louisville. 1st round, #10 overall in 2007.

Okoye famously was the youngest college football player ever (16) and youngest first round NFL draft pick ever (19). His rookie season with the Texans was decent, but it was all downhill from there. He was released after four seasons of mediocre play, and managed only 16 sacks in 87 career games. The players selected after Okoye reads like a Pro Bowl roster: Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darelle Revis, Lawrence Timmons, Joe Staley, Greg Olsen, Eric Weddle, and Ryan Kalil.

Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com

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2 Responses to “Draft Rewind – Houston Texans”

  1. Neal Says:

    I would switch number 2 with 3, Johnson way better in all aspects. Owen is an average at the least.

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