I felt that perhaps a look at the TEXANS 2019 Draft would be rather timely right now, given the firing this week of GM BRIAN GAINE. There has been some buzz that when all was said and done, there was serious concern about this year’s Draft effort, as well as GAINE’s first effort last year. Remember also, that the organization lost its founder and owner, BOB McNAIR, last year to cancer. I guess what I am hinting at here is some dysfunction in general, as the team tries to move forward after a great deal of turnover at the top of the organization. Chances are we will hear more in the months come. But for now let’s take a look at their Draftees.
Round 1, Pick 23
TYTUS HOWARD OT ALABAMA STATE 6’5/322 5.06/40 PP#89
HOWARD is a small school guy who did dominate at his level of play. He is a big guy with long arms, (34″), and big hands, (10 5/8″). He was at the Senior Bowl and showed well. He has the stuff that pro OT’s are made of. However, I do not think that he is ready to start in the NFL out protecting the edge right now. Throwing him out there as a Rookie is not likely to help the pass-pro situation for Mr. WATSON right now. Upgrading the OL was a major objective going into this Draft. HOWARD may struggle trying to be that big piece right away.
Round 2, Pick 54
LONNIE JOHNSON DB KENTUCKY
6’2/213 4.54/40 PP#69
JOHNSON was a highly athletic performer at DC last season for the WILDCATS. His long, lean frame, and solid athleticism, seem well suited for an NFL career, probably at S. His 40-time would also indicate that S may be more of a fit for him than DC. At 213 lbs, he also might see action as a LB/SS hybrid for veteran Defensive Coordinator ROMEO CRENNEL. He came up through the JC ranks initially. He was a key player for the WILDCATS on Special Teams and showed a propensity for blocking kicks. They lost multiple players in VFA from their secondary group, so it’s not hard to figure why they went in this direction, but how soon is he ready to win a starting job?
Round 2, Pick 55
MAX SCHARPING OT NORTHERN ILLINOIS
6’6/327 5.25.40 PP#94
Not much excitement to this Pick, but MAX was a 4-year starter for the HUSKIES. He has really good size and decent athleticism. Playing in the MAC, he comes with experience in both pass-pro and run blocking in a pro style Offense. He started 53 consecutive games at NIU. He plays tough and physical, which the TEXANS could use more of in their OL group. The big question in Training Camp will be whether he can show enough in pass-pro for them to trust him protecting WATSON against the outside edge-rush. A round early for my taste, but a solid prospect at a position of serious need.
Round 3, Pick 86
KAHALE WARRING TE SAN DIEGO STATE 6’5/252 4.67/40 PP#95
Talent is not the question with this player, but lack of football experience may hold back his development some. Until college, his main sport was volleyball. His receiving stats leave a bit to be desired, but the AZTECS Offense under HC ROCKY LONG is run-run first, pass third. This player is exactly the kind of enigma that the stampede of underclassmen presents to NFL teams. His testing numbers are indicative of a stellar athlete, but his limited resume’ as a player leaves pause for cause when deciding upon how high he should be selected. WARRING is a tantalizing prospect, but he appears to be a clear boom-or-bust Pick.
Round 5, Pick 161
CHARLES OMENIHU DE TEXAS
6’5/280 4.94/40 PP#45
He is a fascinating prospect after a nice career for the LONGHORNS. The good news is that his intensity really picked up under new HC TOM HERMAN and his staff. OMENIHU is a better athlete than a player right now. His best overall season was in 2018 when he collected 45 T’s, 18 TFL, 9.5 S’s, 5 QBH’s, and 2 PBU’s. His 36″ long arms are almost ideal for shedding blockers, as well as effectively blocking the lane vision of QB’s. He plays hard in spurts, and seems to understand what’s going on around him, but he disappears from the action way too much for his talent level. He is a very bright, articulate guy who impressed me in conversations during Senior Bowl week. Unless someone on the coaching staff can light a fire in his football soul, he may never be much more than a rotational player who can penetrate into the backfield. However, he has the potential to make OL and QB’s tremble, and deserves to be a spacial project for DL Coach ANTHONY WEAVER. A very good value for Round 5, IMO.
Round 6, Pick 195
XAVIER CRAWFORD DC CENTRAL MICHIGAN
5’11/187 4.48/40 PP#251
His name is more familiar to West Coast fans, than followers of the MAC. He was a graduate transfer from OREGON STATE. He is not a ball hawk, but can effctivcely stay with his man in coverage, as evidenced by his 1 INT, 12 PBU’s last season for CMU. His arm length is a bit of concern at 29 1/8″, but also makes those dozen PBU’s more encouraging. He’ll need to make his mark on Special Teams right away, but could develop into a decent sub-package Corner. This is a decent value pick in Round 6.
Round 7, Pick 220
CULLEN GILLASPIA FB TEXAS A&M
6’1/235 4.53/40 PP#NR
My first response to this selection was to question why they took a FB who had only played that position for one year, but then I got some additional info, (from LP), and it seems clear that versatility and athleticism may have had a lot to do with this pick. After 3 years as a back-up LB and Special Teams ace, JIMBO FISHER’s staff decided to move GILLASPIA to FB, which certainly played into the huge 2018 season for RB TRAYVEON WILLIAMS. With a wide range of experience and nice athletic numbers, including the 4.53/40-time from his Pro Day, this Pick comes into clearer focus. As a Swiss Army knife, he may become a very valuable roster member in 2019.
I see quite a few reaches in this Draft class for HOUSTON. With 4 Picks in the Top 100, I am still not sure that they drafted an immediate starter. Though I am pretty sure some their Picks will pan out and become starters in a couple of years, by then some of their mainstays will be gone. They needed to grab some immediate help, while players like WATT, CLOWNEY, HOPKINS and others are still major contributors. Just like with the JETS, perhaps the timing, more so than the reasoning, is the issue in parting ways with GAINE right now. Since its inception as an NFL franchise, this team has relied primarily on the Draft to fill its roster. With that philosophy in mind, they might not have gotten enough value from their recent Drafts under GAINE, so BOB McNAIR’s heirs decided to move on. Patience does not abound in today’s NFL.