Why Houston fans are on board with NFL Draft expert’s surprising pick for Texans

BIG NEXT STEPS

NFL.com draft evaluator Lance Zierlein released his first mock draft of the season this week, and he has the Texans going defense with the 23rd overall pick.

Zierlein said DeMeco Ryans' comments about beefing up the d-line factored into his pick for Houston. With that in mind, he selected Penn State edge rusher Chop Robinson to be drafted by Houston in the first round.

While many Texans fans were happy with this selection, it does raise some questions about what Houston will do in free agency. If the Texans elect to re-sign DE Jonathan Greenard after his 12.5 sack season, certainly that could change Zierlein's stance on the matter.

While LZ is a fan of Greenard's game, his injury history does raise some concerns, as he hasn't played a full season so far in his 4-year career. Add that to the massive salary he is going to command this season, and you have some legit reasons to let Greenard walk, and draft a young pass rusher with a much cheaper contract.

As mentioned above, free agency will have an impact on what every team does in the draft. What if the Texans let TE Dalton Schultz and Greenard leave in free agency, and instead use that money to sign the best player on the market, Chiefs' all-world defensive lineman, Chris Jones.

In theory, Houston could use the money saved on Greenard and Schultz to pay Jones around $24 million/year to wreak havoc on the d-line, and draft a player like Chop Robinson to replace Greenard.

Don't miss the video above as John Granato and Lance Zierlein break it all down!

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The Astros have yet to make Bregman an offer, but Kyle Tucker said preliminary talks have begun with him. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

Heading into spring training, Astros general manager said the team definitely was going to offer Alex Bregman a contract extension … they’re working on it.

Bregman’s agent Scott Boras said Bregman certainly would be open to discussing an extension with the Astros. For his part, Bregman said he spent the off-season working out like a beast and he’s getting ready for the best season of his career.

And so the waiting game began. Spring training is in full swing and each day the story-hungry media asks, so what’s up with the Astros contract offer for Bregman, who will be a free agent at season’s end if he doesn’t re-up with the Astros?

The media is waiting. Bregman is waiting. You know what Tom Petty said, waiting is the hardest part.

Let me tell you, Godot will show up before the Astros make a public contract offer to Bregman this spring. Public negotiations are a dance, and the Astros are willing to sit this one out.

The Astros kick off their spring training schedule on Saturday against the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach. Bregman likely will take third base and face live enemy pitching without an extension offer in his pocket.

The Astros’ position is well known. They are loathe to offer long-term contracts, let’s say more than five years, for big money, let’s say $150 million. They’ve stuck to their guns several times in recent years.

Bregman’s position is assumed. Certainly if he does have the best year of his career, he’ll be looking for $200 million-plus over seven or eight years.

Irresistible object vs. immovable force. Lines have been drawn in the sand. Will either side blink?

It’s doubtful. Actually, both sides are in a no-win situation at this stage. If the Astros make it known that they’ve made Bregman an offer, one that’s not even close to his expected market value, the team will appear cheap, insincere and just going through the motions. Fans know this has become sort of the Astros thing.

If it gets out that Bregman turned down the offer, and agent Boras is determined for Bregman to hit free agency, Bregman could appear to be just another mercenary soldier putting salary over team loyalty. This is how you pay Houston back for all our love, Alex?

Of course, the best strategy for both sides would be for Bregman to start the season, see how things go, and get serious about an extension in a few months.

There’s one problem with that – the media isn’t letting this go. It's the unrelenting Topic No. 1 each day on Astros talk. And will continue to be. The team and Bregman may have patience about a contract extension, but those beat writers are tired of waiting.

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