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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