The dust from the 2020 NFL draft has cleared and the reviews are coming in.
This is what passes for huge sports news in our world at the moment. No baseball, no basketball playoffs, not even rookie camp. Just idle time to sit around and think about what your team’s newest acquisitions will do to help win the Super Bowl this season.
The pundits have turned in mixed reviews over the Houston Texans’ haul. Thanks to the maneuvering of General Manager Bill O’Brien, the Texans entered the 2020 and look toward a 2021 draft with one second round pick. If you had been told two years ago the team was trading Jadaveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins, you would have expected a couple of picks in the top two rounds. Seriously, Bill Belichek got a fourth round pick for an injury-prone tight end who had been retired.
But that is history.
What O’Brien accomplished in the 2020 draft needs to be looked at in two perspectives. One, he was able to address some defensive concerns. Second, he played the long game that was a criticism during free agency. In addition to picking up much-needed draft picks in 2021 when the first pick comes in the third round, O’Brien selected a player or two whose contributions will be seen further down the road.
In a division Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette are featured, O’Brien did a solid job of addressing the middle of the defense with TCU’s Ross Blaylock. In the third round, the team appeared to have a trade and when it fell through, O’Brien threw the kind of tantrum reserved for jeering fans near the tunnel. But some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. For the Texans that means Jonathan Greenard of Florida to help bolster the pass rush. With the loss of Clowney and the toll age and injuries have taken on J.J. Watt, not a bad idea.
The fourth round pick of Charlie Heck is interesting. Strengthening the line is a great idea and Heck, the son of a coach, is a 6-8 athletic player with solid footwork. The downside is strength that will need to be addressed to play at this level. With training facilities closed down right now, Heck will be further behind than he typically would be and might be considered for a bigger impact down the road.
It seems the Texans are always looking for cornerback health and you can never have enough defensive backs with teams like Kansas City lurking in the conference. John Reid, while undersized, plays with solid strength. Not a bad player to take a flyer with a pick gained from the Dolphins.
The final pick was a wide receiver Isaiah Coulter at a position where you have some of the greatest depth. Maybe there is injury concerns with Will Fuller and newly acquired Brandin Cooks. Maybe you feel Coulter is a better player than Keke Coutee. Apparently, O’Brien feels better about the depth on the team including the position of running back than others in the fan base. With several receiver contracts that aren’t guaranteed in the next several years, Coulter could be an inexpensive option as the team throws money elsewhere (quarterback).
Coulter, an FCS player, was productive against the bigger schools and has decent speed. He will need to find the weight room and will benefit from position coaching and developing some technique on the route tree.
You have to like the small moves O’Brien made that will help pay off down the road such as trading a seventh round pick this year for a sixth round pick next year. O’Brien was wheeling and dealing when he could, trading one fourth round pick for two later ones. The team traded one of those fourth rounders and two seventh round picks for Heck but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Now, it is up to fans to fall in love with this team.
Michael Pineda is the assistant managing editor of The Baytown Sun. Contact him at email@example.com