The Houston Texans go into the draft with nine picks and relatively few, if very clear, holes. The Texans will certainly use those top picks to find starters—the question is which position will they select first.
The Texans' key needs include finding a wide receiver to start alongside Andre Johnson, an inside linebacker to start alongside Brian Cushing and a nose tackle to compete for the starting job. Depth in the secondary, another tight end and depth on the offensive line, particularly at right tackle, would be beneficial as well.
Throughout the draft, this slideshow will be updated with the newly selected Texans, analysis and draft grades.
The Texans needed a second wide receiver, and of the bunch, DeAndre Hopkins was the one I felt the best about, not just due to his film but as a fit for the team. My immediate reaction seeing that the Texans did in fact take Hopkins was one of joy for the Texans.
Hopkins was a high-production wideout in college. At Clemson, he had 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns his senior year. You do not just get yardage like that without being a great player.
Watching film of him, my first thought was that Hopkins was not the flashiest wide receiver. That does not matter if you can produce, and Hopkins is a guy with sure hands, loads of talent, and has the tools to be the immediate number two receiver alongside Andre Johnson.
If he continues to produce in Houston, he will likely take over as the No. 1 receiver for Andre Johnson in a few years. As a result, this is a perfect fit for Houston. It gives Matt Schaub another target, and will make the offense downright scary next year.
If I had to nitpick, I would say that he doesn't have elite speed like Tavon Austin does, but that's going out of the way to find an issue. In short, one of the best first-round picks in this draft.
The Texans had several options that I liked in Vance McDonald, who went to San Francisco, and Arthur Brown, who went to Baltimore. In fact, Brown would have been an A+ grade, but the Texans missed it by one pick.
Who did the Texans get instead? They got safety D.J. Swearinger. He's no Arthur Brown, but for a team that needs safety depth behind Ed Reed, he's actually a great pickup.
Swearinger is an aggressive safety out of South Carolina who saw some time at cornerback. He has a tendency to draw penalties, so in the NFL he may have to calm down a bit, but Wade Phillips will be able to work with him.
Ed Reed is the perfect guy for Swearinger to work under. Aside from his stiffness, his weaknesses are easily coachable, and he can learn the finer points of the game serving under Reed. What helps is that, should Reed age overnight, he can be a starter sooner rather than later.
Houston also has the ability to use three safeties in a nickel package with the Swearinger pick. If he can become a more fluid player, then as long as the Texans don't use him as a slot cornerback, then it's a nice selection that fills a depth need.
I still would have liked them to select a cornerback here, but with Brown and Jon Bostic both gone, the options for the Texans were few here.
After two very good to great picks in DeAndre Hopkins and D.J. Swearinger, the Texans come out in the third round in big need of linebacker help, and take instead offensive tackle Brennan Williams out of North Carolina.
Right tackle is a need for the Texans. Derek Newton is not quite starter material, and while Duane Brown and Chris Myers are great, they still need that third anchor to be a force. Can Williams be that force?
In short, it's entirely possible. Williams is a big guy at 6'6" and 318 pounds, and he's physical on the line. He also has no problem holding the edge, and looks the part of a tackle at the next level.
He can be great in the NFL, but the problem going in is that he's still raw yet. Yes, he has upside, but he's not a day one starter at all.
I would have much preferred the Texans take a linebacker here, and if they had to take an offensive tackle, which is a need, they should have taken someone who is more NFL-ready than Williams is.
It's not a bad pick by any means, but I would have preferred someone that can win now. Williams will work his way into a starting role at right tackle, and it remains to be seen if he can pull it off.
Grade: B-. I had a C+ here originally, but after doing the full report on him and sleeping on it, i found it to be a bit harsh, as this could work out in Houston's favor; I see what they're doing with this pick.
The Texans came into the last pick of day two still badly needing linebacker help. Did they address that with the 95th pick in the draft? No.
Sam Montgomery is a defensive end who could, and could be great depth on the line behind J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith. He can come off the line, and make some good plays.
At LSU, he was incredibly productive, much more so than high draft pick Barkevious Mingo. Why did he draft so far then? In short, he has the talent, no question, and solely on that he's a steal here.
The problem is with the interviews after the season, where he came across as a low-effort player, and seemed to take entire games off.
This is why this pick is so confusing, as Rick Smith looks at character over all else. If he selected Montgomery, then that tells me that the interviews were not an issue to him, and that he will still be productive in the NFL.
I'm willing to give the Texans the benefit of the doubt here and call this a nice pickup, but I'm sure there will be others who give this pick a terrible grade, and I understand the reasoning for it. Solely by talent, however, he's a great pickup.
The Texans are completely loaded on the edges at this point. At outside linebacker they have Sam Montgomery, Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus, and at defensive end they have J.J. Watt, Jared Crick, and Antonio Smith.
While Trevardo Williams is a defensive end, it's entirely reasonable to say that, like Montgomery, he will be converted to linebacker, turning a depth weakness for the Texans last year into a position of strength.
Williams was a nice player for Connecticut, and was a sack machine there, with 12.5 his senior year over 12 games.
I actually see some of Mercilus in this kid, as he is a guy who can get to the quarterback big time, and while he is undersized in the NFL, if he can learn to drop into coverage, then he could be developed into an ILB, though it will be a work in progress for the Texans.
I like this pick a lot better than Montgomery in terms of a team fit, as Williams, as he has that acceleration and burst to be disruptive. For that matter, he's a guy who could have been selected with the 95th pick and I would have been happy.
Williams is not an overly powerful guy, and it remains to be seen if he is versatile enough to be used how Houston will want to use him. If it works, it's a steal.
The Texans traded out of the fifth round to gain two sixth-round picks, then jumped up to get pick number 176. After all the movement, who did they end up with?
They doubled down on their offensive tackle depth and picked up David Quessenberry, someone who I had a fourth-round grade on. As a result, it's a great value pick.
Quessenberry is a tough guy who is a natural athlete. As a result, he is prescisely the type of player the Texans put on the line. He is a tackle naturally, but he's quick enough and athletic enough that a move to guard is not out of the question.
I'm actually a lot higher on Quessenberry than I am on Williams, so I think this as a great pickup. He can compete for a starting job at right tackle, and can also turn tackle into a position of strength for the Texans. love this pick for them.
The Texans were doing very well in the draft up to this point, and late in the sixth round, teams look for value, and players that can contribute on special teams.
I'm not exactly sure where Alan Bonner fits. He was not on anyone's radar whatsoever, and no one had him drafted. He's somewhat short and not overly fast either.
What does he contribute to Houston? He had a nice career at Jacksonville State, but he does not have the breakaway speed to be an effective returner.
Beyond that, he will be mired in the depth chart behind Keyshawn Martin, DeVier Posey, and others. In short, I don't even see him making the team unless he wows the Texans in training camp; he'll likely be on the practice squad.
Like Bonner, Chris Jones is a player who was not projected to be drafted. Unlike Bonner, I at least understand the reasoning behind this pick.
Jones was well under the radar, playing defensive tackle in Bowling Green. He was a force in the MAC, and he's on the slow side even for a defensive tackle, he's a guy who can make plays in the trenches.
It's not a pick that's going to wow fans, but the key is that he's a player who can actually fight Earl Mitchell for that starting nose tackle job, and is athletic enough that he's a realistic option to start at some point.
Besides, a defensive tackle with 42 tackles and double-digit sacks, no matter where he plays college football, is worth noticing.
The Houston Texans needed a tight end in the late rounds to add depth to that position, and while it's not one of the tight ends I would have preferred (Joseph Fauria, namely), Ryan Griffin is a player that fits for Houston.
Griffin is a big target at 6'6" and 261 pounds, and gives Schaub a bigger window to throw to than the current tight ends offer. As a receiving tight end, he brings a lot to the table.
What helps is that he can be a serviceable blocker, and he's someone the Texans can groom along with Garrett Graham. Will Griffin take over that backup role, though?
He's not that raw, so I do have questions about what his ceiling is in the NFL. The Connecticut offense was not exactly productive, however, so joining a more productive team like the Texans could be great for him.
At the end of the day, the Texans are a team that seemed to slip later in the draft. That being said, they knew what needs they wanted to fill and when, and while it may not have been the most conventional way, they did fill all their needs.
They took a risk filling linebackers the way they did, and I'm not sure where Bonner and Griffin are going to fit on the roster, but the Texans started out draft weekend great.
Hopkins and Swearinger in particular will be forces for the Texans for quite a long time, and while I would have picked very different players in day three, I think they had one of the better drafts in the league.