The NFL Draft is nigh and the Houston Texans will be on the clock at #25 overall in a draft which could ultimately take care of the team's needs heading into the 2017 season. In which direction do the Texans head and what position groups need the biggest adjustment heading into the draft?
The discussion will focus on Thursday on whether it will be the best player available or will it be the a draft based on needs for the Texans. General manager Rick Smith discussed the board and how it relates to the organization.
“We have the board value and stacked based on value. So, we’ll see how the draft unfolds. There are players that we like at certain positions and certain values. That’s just kind of the function of how the thing plays out,” Smith said of the team’s draft board. “When you’re in the 20s, it has to kind of clear itself out for a little bit before you even get an idea of what it looks like. We have it valued and we feel pretty good about the way we have it valued and the way we have it stacked. We’ll see how it unfolds on Thursday night as it relates to the first round.”
What are the Texans draft needs? Let’s take a look.
Top Priorities in Order
(4) Add Play Maker: Running Back
The Texans let Jonathan Grimes walk and, with Alfred Blue entering his final season of his contract and Lamar Miller showing in his first season with the Texans his workload needs to be controlled, it makes too much sense for the Texans to invest in one of the many flavors of running backs coming out in this draft. The options include: a three-down back, an inside the tackle runner, or third down back who would be a presence in the passing game.
This draft has a strong running back class and, as the team heads deeper into the draft, they could select a solid option to add to the backfield.
(3) The Right Fit: Inside Linebacker
The Texans have a budding star in Benardrick McKinney and two-down players in Brian Cushing and Max Bullough. The way the league continues to trend, defenses need at least three options at the position who all can do something different on the field. The Texans want to find a linebacker who compliments McKinney in dime situations, and gives enough in the coverage game, but most importantly, who can be a force in the run, playing behind four-man fronts.
The best case scenario would be able to find a three down linebacker to grow with McKinney but at this point there are many ways to address the position. The Texans could find the right match to what they like to do defensively but specifically let that player develop into something more when Cushing’s time is up with the Texans.
(2) Either or: Safety/Cornerback
This is ultimately a wild card spot for the Texans and here is why. In the divisional round of the playoffs, the Texans used Kareem Jackson at safety for a good portion of the game and he did well in his first game action. Jackson could go into the 2017 season starting at cornerback and safety, which could easily depend on who the Texans take during the draft.
If the team chooses a safety, they can keep Jackson at cornerback and potentially add an elusive player at a position position they have been trying to fill since Glover Quin left to the Detroit Lions. With what Smith calls one of the strongest safety classes in some time entering the draft, this could finally be the year.
In whichever direction the team goes, a player at either position would be a welcome addition to the roster, but how the team's board is stacked and when their pick arrives, the board will ultimately lead them to the exact position they pick.
(1) Flip a Coin: Offensive Tackle or Quarterback
One is for the now, the other is for the immediate future. The offensive tackle is a position in which the player picked could come in and start day one on the right side and, with the age of Duane Brown and the injury to Derek Newton, the tackle position could be considered a bigger immediate need than quarterback if the Texans stepped on the field tomorrow.
As for the the quarterback position, it is the same story but a different year. The Texans have selected quarterbacks but the round they have invested in the position just has not been enough. As the draft progresses, the talent level slowly trends down and getting a quarterback in the first two rounds more often than not proves to be the difference for winning franchises.
If the Texans can come away with a combination of both positions with their first two picks of the draft, that would be considered a top end start for the Texans this coming draft week.
Draft Watch: What Would it Take for the Texans to Trade Up? | Texans at the Crossroads During the 2017 Draft | Texans Continue Their Search for a Quarterback | Video Notebook: Rick Smith on the NFL Draft
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