Chester Pitts - 50th overall 2002
These days Chester Pitts might be seen on your TV or shaking hands to curry favor for his inevitable mayoral campaign but before all that he was one of the Texans earliest picks. He's also one of the more successful ones too. He still holds the Texans record for consecutive starts checking in at 114 straight.
Andre Johnson - 3rd overall - 2003
This doesn't need much explanation.
DeMeco Ryans - 33rd overall - 2006
The best pick of the 2006 draft for the Texans. Ryans was a steadying force in the middle of the Texans defense for years. He's the Texans all-time leader in solo tackles and second all-time in franchise history in total tackles. Plus, he punked Jeremy Shockey not once, but twice in a Texans uniform so that's a thumbs up in my book.
Owen Daniels - 98th overall - 2006
I almost went with Eric Winston but I figured the tight end spot was more important than the right tackle spot. Daniels is third all-time in team history in receiving yards and touchdowns. He was one of the most important players on some of the best Texans teams and caught some of the biggest touchdowns in team history. All that for a fourth round pick is pretty darn good.
Duane Brown - 26th overall - 2008
Duane Brown is probably the best offensive lineman to ever play for the Texans. He held down the left tackle spot for the team from almost the day he arrived. The ending was messy but the time he was here the Texans consistently had one of the better players at the left tackle spot. He was an anchor for the best seasons in Texans history.
Brian Cushing - 15th overall - 2009
Brian Cushing wasn't who I wanted or thought the Texans should take in 2009. I was hoping for Jeremy Maclin to pair with Andre Johnson. Cushing ended up being the right pick for the Texans. He played well alongside DeMeco Ryans and took over when Ryans departed for Philidelphia. He was the 2009 Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Pro (2nd team). He is the franchise leader in tackles.
J.J. Watt - 11th overall - 2011
The Texans almost traded up for Patrick Peterson. They wanted Aldon Smith. Thanks in large part to Wade Phillips they drafted one of the most dominant defensive players ever. Enough said.
Whitney Mercilus - 26th overall - 2012
He's the second-best pass rusher in team history. He is also an example of a guy blossoming a few years into his career as he got a second contract and paid it off with huge years 2015 and 2016.
DeAndre Hopkins - 27th overall - 2013
He's the best offensive player in team history.
Deshaun Watson - 12th overall - 2017
Sure, it cost a lot to move up and make it happen but the Texans finally secured what looks to be a dynamic and incredible quarterback. He's got so much room to improve too. It's scary how good he can be.
Justin Reid - 68th overall - 2018
I am prepared to defend this one but also take criticism for this selection as well. There are a lot of arguments for this final slot including Reid's 2018 teammate Andre Hal as well as D.J. Reader and even former Texans lineman Brandon Brooks. Reid put together one of the best seasons for a rookie the team has seen and he did it all with first round expectations despite being a third round selection.
- In a week that is in large part about being thankful for the good things we are fortunate to have in life, Texans’ fans can have an extra helping of glee. After three years of enduring an absolute turkey of a franchise, it is certainly a football blessing to have the Texans gobble up three straight wins to get to 6-4 and make it a legitimately big game Sunday versus 7-3 Jacksonville at NRG Stadium.
Should the Texans beat the Jaguars for a second time, they sweep the season series and take over first place in the AFC South. Raise your hands if back in early September you had this as a likely scenario. Hands down liars! With six more games to play after Sunday it’s not as if the Texans clinch the division with a win, but it clearly positions them to take the division and go from last to first as the Jaguars did from 2021 to last season. Among the Texans’ final six games, only Cleveland is an opponent currently with a winning record. The Broncos have won four in a row to enter the wild card race at 5-5, but that game is in Houston. Then the Texans play at the offensively impotent Jets and the dead in the water Titans. The Deshaun Watson-less Browns are here Christmas Eve before the Texans get their second game with the Titans, ahead of the season finale at the presently 5-5 Colts. That is a very favorable schedule. With a win over the Jags Sunday, the Texans finishing 11-6 becomes very plausible. That would force the Jaguars to win five of their final six games, which include playing at Cleveland and a home date vs. the Ravens. Jacksonville’s other four games project as wins: home games vs. the no-Joe Burrow Bengals and the horrible Panthers, road games at Tampa Bay and Tennessee.
On the flip side, if the Jaguars come here and win Sunday, they come relatively close to putting away the division. The Jags’ would leave with a two game lead, and a split with the Texans would give the Jacksonville the tiebreaker via better divisional record, unless they somehow lose at Tennessee in their season finale.
Beating the Jags again doesn’t figure to be as easy as it turned out to be for the Texans in Florida back in September. The Texans won 37-17 despite being outgained 404 yards to 366. After getting out to a 17-0 lead, the Texans saw Jacksonville draw within 17-10 with 4:35 to go in the third quarter. Then Andrew Beck shockingly rumbled 85 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return. Thereafter the outcome was never in doubt. The Texans were turnover-free in the game, the Jaguars coughed it up twice. With C.J. Stroud coming off of a three interceptions game you know taking care of the ball is a point of re-emphasis this week.
The Jaguars are a perfect 4-0 on the road, one of the road games being a road trip not a true road game. They beat the Buffalo Bills in London.
If C.J Stroud opted to take the rest of the season off, he’d still have the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award just about sewn up. Fellow freshman Texan Tank Dell is in the hunt for runner-up. The dynamic 165 pound former Houston Cougar has six touchdown catches. That equals the rookie TD haul total of Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins combined. Johnson had four TD grabs as a rookie in 2003, Hopkins just two as a rook in 2013. Dell is on pace for 10 touchdown catches. The schedule being 17 games now impacts this stuff of course, but Dell missed the Saints game while in concussion protocol. In the Super Bowl era, only nine first year wide receivers have cracked double digits in TD receptions. Randy Moss blew away the field with his epic 17 TD catch rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. Next with 13 are Ja’Marr Chase two years go with the Bengals and the begoggled John Jefferson with the Chargers in 1978. Odell Beckham and Mike Evans caught 12 apiece as rookies, Mike Williams 11. Calvin Ridley, Daryl Turner, and Sammy White each snared 10. White did it in a 14 game schedule.
Rams rookie fifth round pick Puka Nacua is Dell’s chief competition for rookie wideout of the year. Nacua is on pace for a whopping 117 receptions for more than 1500 yards.
A Thanksgiving-related note/quasi prediction. If the Texans ultimately finish second in the division, here’s a guess that they play at the Arlington Cowboys Turkey Day 2024. The Texans next season will play a game at the NFC East team that finishes in its division this year in the same place the Texans do theirs. The Cowboys are going to be second behind Philadelphia in the NFC East. C.J. Stroud’s arrival means no more zero nationally televised games for the Texans. A Texans-Cowboys holiday tilt makes sense. The Texans have played two Thanksgiving Day games, both at Detroit.
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Texans on Tap is the weekly Texan-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule a first video segment goes up Monday on the SportsMapTexans YouTube channel.