by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
The Houston Texans have had a very up and down past five years with two playoff appearances but also a bottom of the NFL finish in 2013. The Texans bounced back in 2014 winning 9 games thanks to the contribution of their young talent acquired in the last five drafts. There are a solid majority of recent draft picks slated to start in 2015, and the Texans will be relying on them if they are to return to the playoffs.
The Texans get to boast the widely regarded opinion that they have drafted the best player that has come into the league in the past five years. This player is obviously 2011 1st round pick J.J. Watt. Watt has absolutely lit up the league since being drafted and is widely regarded as the undisputed best defensive player in the NFL. Some people might even argue that Watt is the best player in the NFL on either side of the ball. He has already won the AP and PFWA NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice and has been named to the Pro Bowl three times. The Texans have even begun utilizing Watt on both sides of the ball as he scored three touchdowns on offense in 2014. The Texans will be looking for Watt to lead their defense for many years to come after locking him up long-term in 2014.
Watt is the only Pro Bowl player the Texans have drafted in the last five years; however, they have drafted quite a few big time contributors on both sides of the ball. Kareem Jackson has been a solid contributor at cornerback since being drafted in the 1st round in 2010. Jackson is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL and will be starting for the Texans in 2015 after re-signing this offseason. The Texans have also built one of the better offensive lines in the NFL through the draft with 2014 starters Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones, and Derek Newton all being drafted in the 2011 or 2012 drafts. DeAndre Hopkins has also had a good run with the Texans so far making solid contributions at receiver in both seasons. Hopkins will be the Texans’ number one receiver in 2015. From the 2014 rookie class, the Texans look to have found a gem in the 6th round with the selection of Alfred Blue. Blue was a solid contributor at running back and is expected to do the same in 2015 alongside Arian Foster.
The Texans have also had some big misses in the past five drafts. Players like Trindon Holliday, Rashad Carmichael, and DeVier Posey failed to make any significant impact in their short careers in Houston. The entire 2013 draft with the exception of DeAndre Hopkins seems to be a miss. The rest of the draft has failed to make an impact and Hopkins is the only player drafted in the first four rounds who is still with the team in 2015. The biggest miss from 2013 was 3rd round pick Sam Montgomery. Montgomery did not even last a season in Houston as he was released during his rookie season for violating team rules. He never even appeared in a game for Houston. The 2nd round pick from the same year, DJ Swearinger, made a little more of a contribution but not enough as he has already been released after only two seasons. The 2014 draft has not been much better so far with only Blue making a significant contribution in their rookie season. The most disappointing of the bunch was 2014 number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. He struggled with injuries in his rookie year that kept him from making any impact. He still has plenty of time to live up to his lofty potential and is projected to start in 2015. If Clowney ever lives up to his potential, the combination of him and Watt on defense is a scary thought for opposing teams.