Led by second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans made considerable strides in 2018. After tearing his ACL midway through the 2017 season, Watson led the Texans to an 11-5 record and an AFC South division title this past season. Even though they lost convincingly to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round, it was a great turnaround from where they were just a year prior, and now they can get even better in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.
Now, the Texans have their sights on the next level. They’re going to need some help in some rather glaring holes, however. Their best option to address those holes will be in next month’s draft. Although Houston only has the standard seven selections, three of them will come within the first 55 picks, including back-to-back selections in the second round.
So, what are Houston’s biggest needs ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft? Let’s take a look.
Despite being one of the top overall defenses in 2018, the Texans were abysmal against the pass. Houston ranked in the bottom five in passing, allowing 260.4 passing yards per game. They signed Bradley Roby this offseason, but only on a one-year deal. In addition, they brought in Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who played for the Cleveland Browns last season. Boddy-Calhoun is expected to alternate between cornerback and safety.
The Texans lost Kareem Jackson to the Denver Broncos and released Kevin Johnson ahead of the free agency period. As it stands, the Texans only have four cornerbacks if we are to count Boddy-Calhoun. It’s very possible that Houston could look to add two cornerbacks out of this draft class.
With the 23rd overall pick, the Texans may be in a position to take the first cornerback off the board. Greedy Williams out of LSU and/or Byron Murphy from Washington may be available when it comes time for them to pick. Should they elect to go at a different position, Houston should still be able to grab a quality cornerback in the back of the second round.
The good news for the Texans is that they were able to sign Tashaun Gipson on a three-year deal. The bad news is that they lost Tyrann Mathieu to the Kansas City Chiefs. Gipson will lineup alongside Justin Reid, who played well as a rookie. It remains to be seen, however, what kind of impact the combo can have. Mathieu is, arguably, better than Gipson, and the Texans’ secondary still struggled with him and Reid.
This is another position that Houston is likely to address in the early rounds. Like cornerback, the Texans will be in prime position to possibly take the first safety off the board at pick 23. The Texans’ issues in the secondary are across the board. It’s very clear they will need to use multiple picks to address it.
Luckily, they are in a perfect spot to grab one of the best players in this class. The majority of teams ahead of them are expected to use their picks on pass rushers and offensive personnel. At the same time, this class is deep enough of secondary players that they can still grab quality players in later rounds.
1. Offensive Line
One thing that is clear about the Texans is that they really need help in the secondary as well as along the offensive line. It’s a foregone conclusion that they will use their first-round pick in one of these areas. Depending on how the board falls in front of them, Houston will probably go best player available at these positions according to their big board and go from there.
If we were to go by the mock drafts that are out there then it would appear that the Texans will use their first pick on a secondary player. However, help on the offensive line is just as necessary.
Deshaun Watson was sacked an NFL-high 62 times in 2018. It was the most sacks endured by a quarterback since Jon Kitna was taken down 63 times in 2006. Watson played in all 16 games last season, but he was banged up for a strong majority of it.
You may recall ahead of Week 7 against Jacksonville when Watson was dealing with a cracked rib, a bruised lung, and a partially collapsed lung. Instead of flying with his teammates, Watson chose to take the 12-hour bus trip to Jacksonville to avoid the air pressure.
Watson showcased his toughness in leading his team to the playoffs, but the Texans need to provide him some protection. Likebthe secondary, this draft class has a lot of top-tier offensive linemen.
The top-rated players are likely to be off the board, however, by the time they pick. If someone like Jonah Williams or Cody Ford starts to fall, then it may be wise for Houston to take them when they can. If not, there are still quality linemen that they can find on Day 2. Any one of these players would be an immediate upgrade over what they have now.