The Houston Texans had an excellent defense in 2016, but their offensive unit struggled to carry their own weight. As a result, the Texans finished with a mediocre 9-7 record, barely winning the AFC South. After having a quiet free agency, Houston decided to turn to the draft to address their key needs.
Here’s the entire list of the players the Texans selected in the 2017 draft:
Round 1, Pick 12 (No. 12 overall, acquired via trade with the Cleveland Browns):
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Three teams traded up to select a quarterback in the first round; Houston being the third team to do so. This was a pricy trade for the Texans, who had to give up the No. 25 pick along with a 2018 first-rounder to acquire Watson’s services. But Houston wasn’t going to make any noise in the playoffs with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden being the only signal callers on the depth chart. Watson is a proven winner who seems to play his best in clutch situations. Look at the tape from the CFP National Championship victory over Alabama if you need proof. However, he was guilty of too many turnovers in college. Watson will need time to develop in Bill O’Brien’s offense, but he was by far the most pro-ready quarterback in this year’s draft.
Round 2, Pick 25 (No. 57)
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt: This was a steal for Houston. It’s ridiculous Cunningham slid this far down the board, point blank. His instincts, athleticism, and ability to diagnose plays will serve him well in his career. Cunningham needs to brush up on his tackling skills a little bit, but this can be fixed with good coaching. The Texans already have Brian Cushing and Bernardick McKinney inside, but Cunningham is a versatile player and can also play on the outside. Houston’s strength becomes stronger with this pick.
Round 3, Pick 25 (No. 89)
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas: The Texans wanted to lighten Lamar Miller’s workload in 2017, and Foreman will help accomplish that goal. Although he is a large, powerful running back, he has exceptional cutting ability and speed that will make him an effective player in Houston’s offensive scheme. The one drawback of Foreman is he has little receiving value, which could make him almost a non-factor in the passing game.
Round 4, Pick 24 (No. 130)
Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell: Davenport has to things that can’t be coached – size and length. His reach is exceptional and he has the capability to get to defenders earlier than his peers. With that being said, Davenport will need to develop blocking instincts before he is ready to start in an NFL game. Houston will groom him to start on the right side.
Round 4, Pick 36 (No. 142)
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson: Clemson had a vicious defensive line last year, and Watkins was a key component of it. He has a rock-solid football IQ and showed off his versatility on multiple occasions in college. Watkins makes the most out of his large frame with a high motor and a relentless pursuit for the football. However, he needs to touch up his pad level and how he fires out of his stance. Watkins will serve as a rotational player to Houston’s pass rushing unit. The Texans have previously dealt with injuries to their front seven, so this was a smart pick that will provide extra depth.
Round 5, Pick 25 (No. 169)
Treston Decoud, S, Oregon State: Decoud has excellent size for his position, which he has used to his advantage in press coverage. He is a tremendous tackler and possesses the skills necessary to come downhill or off the edge and deliver the hammer to ball-carriers. Decoud could also be an intriguing option as a punt returner. But he struggles to track the ball in the air and his lack of a lateral or vertical burst could be a liability for him in his career. Houston needed to add more depth at the safety position, so this pick makes sense.
Round 7, Pick 25, (No. 243)
Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor: Like Davenport, Fuller has the ideal size to thrive in the NFL. His strong hands and long arms helped him thrive in Baylor’s scheme. However, he needs to improve on his movement skills if he wants to be an effective starter in the league. Worst case scenario, he winds up being a solid backup.
Overall Grade: A
After Tony Romo decided to hang up the cleats this offseason, it became evident the Texans were going to select a quarterback in this year’s draft to address their woes under center. Although they gave up a king’s ransom to get Watson, if he becomes the player they think he can be, Houston will become an AFC powerhouse and a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the near future.