Houston Texans: 2017 NFL Draft Preview

Chidobe Awuzie, CB

Longtime G.M. Rick Smith has experienced his share of hits and misses over his career. But the reason he’s still running the show in Houston is because his hits have far exceeded his misses. Now if he can figure out how to find a franchise quarterback in this draft, he might just go down as one of the top general managers in all of football.

Key additions

  • None

Key subtractions

  • CB A.J. Bouye
  • DT Vince Wilfork
  • FS Quinton Demps
  • LB John Simon
  • Brock Osweiler

Priority needs (Offense)

QB…This is the obvious priority need. Every playoff caliber team needs a franchise quarterback and the Texans don’t have one. I give them a lot of credit for unloading Osweiler before most teams would have because pride can be a dangerous obstacle for a franchise. If Smith and Coach Bill O’Brien can land and develop a franchise player in this weak QB class, they’ll be soon hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for years to come and will deserve every accolade that would eventually come their way.

OT…Left tackle Duane Brown turns 32 before the season and right tackles Derek Newton and Chris Clark are below average starters. Newton can’t even be counted on to this point after suffering a serious knee injury at mid-season while Brown missed the first four games last season with a quad injury. This is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

Priority needs (Defense)

CB…After losing breakout player A.J. Bouye to free agency and with rising star Kevin Johnson coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for half the season, Smith has a hole to fill here. Keep in mind Jonathan Joseph is 33 and a free agent after the season, so you can see why another impact corner needs to be added to the roster here and soon.

DL/OLB…John Simon’s free agent departure and Vince Wilfork’s retirement leaves a hole. Depending on where the staff lines up Jadeveon Clowney will determine the type of player they feel could impact the roster more. With veterans Antonio Smith, Devon Still and Akeem Dent also unsigned, Rick Smith has to add at least one more player in this area to help in the rotation. Of course getting J.J. Watt back is going to be a huge help, but more depth is needed.

S…The Texans lost another key piece to free agency in the secondary when Quintin Demps bolted for Chicago. Andre Hal, Eddie Pleasant and Corey Moore are decent players, but none will offer sleepless nights to opposing coordinators. Last year’s fifth-round pick K.J. Dillon is the wild-card, but he missed half the season (are you seeing a trend?) with a torn ACL and hardly made the field anyway. The Texans have bigger issues, but if the right player landed on their board at the right time I could see them making the pick.

Final analysis

If the Texans decide to draft a quarterback at 25 I would expect DeSone Kizer to get the call. It’s no secret that Coach O’Brien prefers them tall and Kizer leads the pack. If they decide to wait until later to grab one like they did with Tom Savage in 2014, Davis Webb or Brad Kaaya could be good bets. The options then become plenty if Smith and O’Brien play the QB waiting game past day one. Besides the main spots we covered above, the tight end position should also be in play at some point. Unless David Njoku were to slip early, I feel confident you’ll see one added later on. Also keep an eye on the interior of the offensive line with last year’s second-round pick Nick Martin missing the entire season with an ankle injury and both starting guards underwhelming talents. The only good news comes from the play of undrafted center Greg Mancz. The third-year player from Toledo played surprisingly well in place of Martin and should easily see the field at guard once Martin is ready to start.

Top first-round options

  • CB Chidobe Awuzie
  • CB Fabian Moreau
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson
  • DL DeMarcus Walker
  • QB DeShone Kizer
  • OLB Takkarist McKinley
  • OLB T.J. Watt
  • OLB Jordan Willis
  • OT Garett Bolles
  • OT Ryan Ramczyk
  • S Obi Melifonwu
  • S Jabrill Peppers
  • TE David Njoku
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