The Texans could play their way out of a good draft pick

Deshaun Watson could be ruined. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Texans find themselves in a nice perch at the top of the AFC South with nine games left in the season. After the first three weeks, I don’t think anyone would have said they could reel off four in a row like they have. Of course, now everyone wants to know if they can keep the momentum and win the division. With the schedule they have ahead of them, it’s not impossible.

On the rest of the schedule, they face only two teams that currently have a winning record; the Dolphins tonight and the Redskins in Week 11. I went through the schedules of the remaining Texans opponents and can find only the Eagles in Week 16 and the Jaguars in Week 17 as teams this might be at or above .500 when they face Houston. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then yes, that means the Texans are entering a 7-game stretch that could define their season.

It’s not unreasonable to think that this team, the way they have played the last month, can win five or six of these games. The only bumps I see are at Denver next week and at Washington two weeks later. The other five games are very winnable. The formula will continue to be solid defense and an offense that manages drives without getting the quarterback killed. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s what they did last week, and it resulted in a 20-7 win on the road in Jacksonville.

This is all great news for Texans fans. I mean, who isn’t excited about another trip to the playoffs.

But, really though?

As I watch the offensive line I wonder: is it a good idea to do so well? And before you say anything, I’m not talking about tanking. That’s never a good idea. I’m just saying, maybe they don’t catch a few breaks here and there like they have been. This division is so bad, the Jaguars were picked to win because they did it last year and they seemed to be the team best suited to survive a 16-game season ready for the postseason. It might be nice if the Texans just let that play out like it was supposed to.

The biggest problem is that winning this division will rob the Texans of the draft picks they need to right the ship. They need help on the offensive line. The priority to protect Deshaun Watson is not always easy when you’re picking 21st. There are 20 spots ahead of them in which the top offensive tackles can be selected and every year there are only about 2-4 that are worth a first round pick.

All four teams that drafted a top quarterback this year (Browns, Bills, Cardinals, Jets) are going to have draft picks high enough to steal those offensive tackles. And they just might. The Colts and the Giants are two more teams that desperately need help at the position. So, if Houston winds up with a later draft pick they could miss out on some top talent.

OK, so they don’t get a top offensive tackle in the first round. They can take a cornerback, right? Absolutely. But that still doesn’t mean a ready to play tackle will be there when they pick late in the second round.

It’s a position with potential for a huge drop off in skill level. The difference between a first round or early second round tackle and one selected later can sometimes become a long-term project. I’ve watched the Texans this year and they can’t afford a long-term project at tackle. They really need to be closer to the front of the draft board.

I know it’s not ideal when they have a chance to hang another banner in the rafters of NRG Stadium, but it might be for the best. The next seven games will either propel this team into the playoffs and make the fans crazy or they will have the season they should have and play themselves into the draft position they need for the future at offensive tackle. I’m thinking long term and would like to see them with a higher draft pick before Deshaun Watson’s career gets ruined for good.


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With the end of the regular season in sight, the Houston Astros host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, coming off a huge walk-off 2-1 win against the Orioles.

Two players from the finale against Baltimore really stood out for the 'Stros. Jeremy Pena, who had a clutch double late in the game, and Cristian Javier.

Javier struck out 11 batters over 5 innings surrendering only one run, which was exactly what the Astros needed in possibly the most important game of the regular season.

Both Pena and Javier were critical pieces to the Astros title in 2022, and it looks like they're rounding into form at just the right time.

Javier's struggles have caused many to question who would be the team's third starter in the postseason, behind Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander. Let's put this to bed right now, it's Javier.

This should be everything you need to know. Let's start with Hunter Brown. Brown has given up 5 earned runs or more in 4 of his last 7 starts.

How about JP France? France has surrendered 5 or more earned runs in 3 of his last 5 games.

However, Cristian Javier hasn't allowed 5 or more runs in a start since July 3. Javier may only give you 5 innings, but that's actually pretty common for starters in the playoffs. Teams typically remove their starters before the third time through the order.

Prime Time Pena

While the power hasn't been there for Pena this year, he is swinging the bat much better of late. Over his last 30 games, he's hitting .325 while slugging .453. Pena may only have 10 bombs on the year, but he's getting on base and hitting plenty of doubles.

If these two can contribute at a similar level to last postseason, the sky is the limit for the 2023 Astros.

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