TANKS FOR NOTHING?

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

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 both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

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In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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