Here are the underlying factors heavily influencing Houston Texans draft
Houston Texans’ fans need to remember one thing come Thursday night’s NFL draft.
Back in 2011, you pee’d and moaned and threw up your hands when the Texans announced they were taking a defensive lineman named J.J. Watt with their first pick.
Watt went on to become the greatest and most celebrated player in Texans franchise history. So don’t judge a defensive draft pick by its cover. Even if it’s a cover 4 zone.
With the 2023 draft clock ticking down, it’s still anybody’s guess who the Texans will take with the coveted No. 2 pick. So-called experts are all over the draft board predicting which talented student-athlete will be a Texan next season.
I heard one ESPN analyst said, “only general manager Nick Caserio knows who’ll the Texans’ll will pick.”
And I’m thinking, yeah, right after new head coach DeMeco Ryans tells Caserio who the Texans will pick. It’s Ryans’ show. This week Caserio met with the press and answered questions about the draft sounding like the boys’ lawyer in My Cousin Vinny – the boys’ first lawyer before Vinny Gambini and Mona Lisa Vito show up to save their hides.
Experts’ mock drafts have the Texans taking Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. They have the Texans taking Alabama defensive All-American Will Anderson. Others go a different direction, like ESPN 97.5 FM host Lance Zierlein, who was the first to zero in on Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson (with others jumping onboard after Zierlein).
I can’t put too much stock in Zierlein since he’s never been able to explain to me why it would take at least five years for a left offensive tackle to make the switch to right defensive tackle when the positions are about as different as left Twix and right Twix.
However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Zierlein is right about Tyree Wilson. He is what the Texans need, though perhaps not what Texans fans want. You can hear the boos now if Wilson’s name is called.
Other analysts have the Texans trading the No. 2 pick at the last moment, moving down from No. 2 and moving up from No. 12 (their second pick in the first round) in hopes of still capturing a premiere quarterback, fingers crossed, Hendon Hooker of Tennessee. That actually makes so much sense that it would be a shocker if the Texans pull it off. Other scenarios have the Texans pitching a trade with the 49ers for suddenly expendable quarterback Trey Lance. Right now the Texans have quarterbacks Case Keenum and the returning Davis Mills. Cue fans yawning and planning Sundays at home next season.
That’s the most compelling aspect of this draft – what will the Texans do? Anything is possible. It’s been a long time since the Texans were A-block news on SportsCenter.
This week Caesars Sportsbook posted odds on who will be the Texans’ pick at No. 2. They have Kentucky quarterback Will Levis the favorite at -140, followed by Wilson (+275), Anderson (+420) and Stroud (+425).
Yes, defense wins games, but defense doesn’t win fans. You saw all those empty seats last year. Season ticket holders, who already paid for their seats, stayed home. Even the last-minute scalpers on Kirby stopped showing up. I know the NFL announces attendance based on tickets sold – the Texans supposedly drew 67,911 fans per game in 2022. Please hold your laughter until the end. My guess: maybe 22,000 actual fannies in seats.
Last week Taylor Swift, over three nights of concerts at NRG Stadium, possibly filled more seats than the entire Texans 2022 season. Try and shake that off. Swift could have sold twice that many tickets. And that’s with Zierlein having Swift a late fifth-round pick at best.
More than any other team the Texans desperately need to hit a home run in this year’s draft. The team is teetering on irrelevancy. It was former NFL commissioner Bert Bell who said, “On any given Sunday any team can beat any other team.” It’s not so with the Texans.
Forgetting the draft order, the Texans are a team void of any star players or, judging by attendance, any reason to show up for games. That’s why the league almost always schedules the Texans games on a given Sunday afternoon, rarely Monday or Thursday night. One draft pick, if it hits, can change all that.
The first round of the draft will air at 7 p.m. on ABC (Channel 13), ESPN and the NFL Network.