THE Z REPORT

Lance Zierlein: What would this year's draft look like if the Texans had not traded up for Deshaun Watson in 2017?

What if the Texans had not traded up for Deshaun Watson? Tim Warner/Getty Images

Deshaun Watson was electrifying in a very short sample size. Deshaun Watson threw for 19 touchdowns  in seven games and 18 in his six starts. The Texans offense never scored less than 33 points in any of Watson’s final five starts before he was felled by a season-ending knee injury. Deshaun Watson’s six game run as a starter was the most productive of any quarterback in the league during that time. Deshaun Watson is our quarterback!

But what if he wasn’t?

What if Rick Smith never pulled the trigger on the trade that sent the Texans 2018 first round draft pick to Cleveland in exchange for the pick that eventually became Deshaun Watson? Let’s roll back the clock and take peek into what might have been if the Texans hadn’t taken Watson and still had a first round pick this year.

The Texans draft a tackle

I poured through my old notes on Texans needs in 2017 and which players were potential fits for them at pick #25. With the right tackle spot in flux and with Duane Brown’s contract an issue, I believe the Texans would have drafted Ryan Ramczyk from the Wisconsin.

Ramczyk could have projected as an early right tackle starter with the potential to move the left tackle. Or, the Texans may have seen him as a future guard if things didn’t work well at tackle. In any case, he would have likely been a starter all season long just as he was for the Saints.

But what would they have done at quarterback? It would have been Tom Savage. Duh. Sure, they may have added another quarterback to complete for the starting position, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have mattered. The defense would have had the same issues, there would have been the same Duane Brown issue and the offensive line wouldn’t have been good enough. In other words, they still would have been drafting about fourth.

The mythical 2018 debates

In this scenario, the Texans would still be in Quarterback Purgatory and this entire draft run-up would have been a sh*t-show of sports talk, message boards and Twitter arguments about this draft pick:.

Trade up: There would be a contingent of Texans fans/media who would have demanded that the Texans do everything in their power to move to the #1 spot and draft Sam Darnold. The Texans don’t have a second round pick so it would have likely cost them next year’s first rounder and maybe one other 3rd round pick.

Best available: While everyone would clearly be in full panic mode regarding the quarterbacks, there would definitely be a group of fans who would argue vehemently that sitting tight and taking Saquon Barkley (if he’s there) would make life so much easier on whoever was at quarterback. If it wasn’t Barkley, fans would also argue that J.J. Watt’s best days may be behind him and taking Bradley Chubb to pair with Mercilus and Clowney means the Texans would potentially rival Jacksonville for most killer defensive front in the league.

To Josh or not to Josh: We all know that UCLA’s Josh Rosen is being hit for lack of coachability and lack of leadership skills. The football talent is clear. If the Texans had the fourth pick of the draft, there is no doubting that. Josh Allen has a monster arm, great size and good mobility, but his college production never matched all that raw talent. There is no doubt in my mind that debating “the Joshes” would be something that would happen on a daily basis with talk show hosts, writers, and social media.

Lamar Jackson hive: The most explosive player in this draft might be Lamar Jackson. In. This. Draft. There is no doubt in my mind that Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson would be the fan’s choice of who the pick should be. However, have you heard Lamar Jackson mentioned at #4 or anywhere inside the top ten for that matter? No. There are some viable reasons involving accuracy and concerns over his size considering how often he runs. I still believe that wouldn’t change the argument points regarding doing whatever the Texans had to in order to get Lamar Jackson.

Free agency run: The Texans obviously could have been in the running for Kirk Cousins. Could they have made a run at trading for Nick Foles? Absolutely.

When it is all said and done, the draft would look like:

  1. Cleveland: Sam Darnold

  2. NY Giants: Bradley Chub

  3. NY Jets: Baker Mayfield

  4. Houston: Josh Allen

Josh Allen or Deshaun Watson, Houston? Who ya got?

 

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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