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Who Should The Texans Take At #25?
- Updated: April 6, 2017
The 2017 NFL Draft is drawing ever closer, and teams are preparing their war rooms. Most of the Pro Days have been completed, and visits have either taken place or have been scheduled. It’s an exciting yet strangely quiet time on the NFL calendar.
Rick Smith, Bill O’Brien, and the Texans scouts are similarly preparing for the draft, but the stakes are much higher for this group. Key players departed via free agency, including two members of the secondary and the former starting quarterback. Those aren’t the only holes to fill, however, as Houston needs to prepare for Duane Brown’s eventual retirement and the health concerns of the offensive line and linebacking corps.
Unfortunately, fixing these holes can be difficult for a team with limited draft picks and absolutely no added players in free agency. Smith will have to knock his picks out of the park, starting with #25 overall. As I see it, there are three main avenues that Smith could pursue in quarterback, offensive tackle, and cornerback. But who will be the choice? The most likely answer will be quarterback, but let’s explore all of the options.
Tony Romo’s sudden retirement puts Rick Smith in quite the pickle. The Texans GM has run the team for 10 years and has neglected to draft a quarterback in the first three rounds. The closest pick was Tom Savage in 2014’s fourth round. Savage now has a chance to be Houston’s starter provided he can stay healthy. However, his history of health concerns means that Weeden or a rookie will likely see the field during 2017. Unless Savage copies Matthew Stafford and becomes an iron warrior.
Houston has met with a couple of signal callers in Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, but so far the former Tar Heel seems like the best option. Trubisky doesn’t quite have the winning resume of DeShone Kizer or Deshaun Watson, but he is the most complete quarterback of the class. Trubisky has a ton of upside with his strong arm and can make all of the throws. Plus, he has good mobility to avoid pressure and gain those tough yards through scrambling.
Trubisky does need to sit and work with quarterback coaches to fix a few issues, but he could come in and play under emergency circumstances if needed. If nothing else, he could turn out to be a franchise QB for years to come.
Let’s face it, Houston’s offensive line has dealt with some issues over the past year. Multiple injuries at the tackle position and poor play from the backups caused problems for one of the least effective offenses in the league. Osweiler spawned his own set of problems, but he also didn’t get enough protection, especially after Derek Newton ruptured both Patellar Tendons. Unfortunately, tackle will once again be an issue with Duane Brown entering the twilight of his career and Newton unlikely to see the field in 2017. Chris Clark (Newton’s backup) was one of the worst right tackles in the league last season, and Houston can’t go into next season with him slated to be a starter. Luckily, there should be a few different options available at #25.
Utah’s Garett Bolles may be one of the older prospects (he turns 25 this fall), but he could be the best tackle for Houston based on his pass protection skills. Bolles is a nasty competitor who loves playing through the whistle, which could be fantastic for Houston, and he is balanced while moving laterally. Although undersized, Bolles will fill out his frame in an NFL weight room after a strength coach gets some time with him. Getting bigger and stronger will take care of those core issues that have been pointed out by Lance Zierlein and will help Bolles take on power rushers more successfully. He should become a key member of Houston’s offensive line.
Obviously, quarterback and offensive tackle are the more pressing concerns for Houston this year, but the losses in the secondary shouldn’t be taken lightly. Both AJ Bouye and Quintin Demps were valuable members of the defense last season, forcing turnovers and making instrumental plays in key victories. Bouye, in particular, came out of seemingly nowhere and played at a near All-Pro level. This was quite the change from his first few seasons that were forgettable at best. However, Bouye is now in Jacksonville and Demps is now in Chicago, leaving the Texans a little undermanned. Granted, the position seems well stocked on paper, but the reality is quite different.
Neither Kareem Jackson or Kevin Johnson have played a full season the past two years, leaving Johnathan Joseph as the only truly healthy corner. Jackson has also struggled with consistency since signing a big contract extension. There has been talk of moving him to safety to make up for the loss of Demps, but no progress has been made on this front. Joseph is by far the most consistent corner in the secondary, but he only has one more year left on his deal. The veteran corner could be out the door without much depth behind him. Youngster Robert Nelson doesn’t appear to the heir apparent after giving up some big plays last year. No, the draft is the best option for refilling the secondary.
Standing tall at 6-feet-2-inches and 212 lbs., Florida’s Quincy Wilson boasts the ideal size of an NFL corner. The former Gator has long arms that excel at ripping the ball away on contested catches, and he can high point a pass as well as any receiver. Despite being a bigger player, Wilson is fast enough to run with most receivers and can transition his hips well to stick with a changing route. Sticky hands could cause an issue with NFL referees, but coaches can take care of that with time. Kevin Johnson was flagged nine times for 132 yards as a college defender, but he has been getting better as he works more with the coaching staff.
Quarterback and offensive tackle are definitely priorities, but Wilson has too much upside to pass up if he is available at the back of the first round.
The 2017 NFL Draft kicks off in Philadelphia Thursday, April 27. Who will the Texans take in the first round?
Quite fond of my wife, video games, and Blue Heelers.
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