Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 2020 NFL Draft

Bill O'Brien did have one on camera blow up on Friday night.
Screen grab from YouTube
Bill O'Brien did have one on camera blow up on Friday night.
When bad things happen, we all have choices in life. We can tread water in our own tepid pool of misery, or we can move forward. To that end, I know a lot of Texans fans are choosing to continue wallowing in the DeAndre Hopkins Trade Negativity circle of Texans hell. You all need to turn the page, if for no other reason than to join me in this sweet, breezy backyard of football joy that I am sitting in this week. Indeed, you misery addicts won’t like to hear this, but here goes — Bill O’Brien NAILED his first draft as Texans' general manager.

Technically, there were no picks on Day 1, because they traded their first round pick (and many other assets) for Laremy Tunsil, but considering the way the tackle board fell in this draft, PLUS the fact that they got a contract extension done with Tunsil on Friday, I can’t even feel antsy about all that. Laremy Tunsil is our left tackle, and that’s good.

So here are my thoughts on actual draft occurrences with the Texans, and the overall unprecedented production that ESPN and the NFL put forth amidst the COVID-19 pandemic:

O'Brien did a great job of filling needs with his two Day 2 selections
Day 2, the Texans addressed two crucial needs, drafting DT Ross Blacklock, a first round talent, with the 40th overall pick, and then finding an effective edge rusher in Florida OLB Jonathan Greenard with the 90th pick. Blacklock was thought by many to be a first round talent, so finding him on the board in Day 2 had to make for a restless night's sleep for O'Brien heading into Friday. Thankfully, the board fell the right way, and the Texans were able to land the Sugar Land native and lifelong Texans fan. Overall, with the Blacklock and Greenard picks, the Texans did what I wanted them to do — address the front seven on defense. Generating a pass rush will make the corners and safeties, a group whose production hasn't matched its talent level, look better.

O'Brien had one of the best viral moments of the night, too!
We hadn't seen much of O'Brien on the telecast through the early portions of Day 2, and that stands to reason, since the Texans didn't have a selection on Day 1 Thursday night. However, O'Brien became a fun viral story as the Texans were approaching their third round pick the 90th overall selection, on Friday evening:
There is so much that is funny about this — O'Brien's feisty (likely f-bomb laden) demeanor, the stark contrast between O'Brien here and Kliff Kingsbury laying on his couch, O'Brien's son not even changing his facial expression. It's all awesome. As it turns out, here was the reason for the blowup:
Which led to the internet doing some Zapruder level lip reading on the Texans' GM:
As it turns out, they were "just messing around on the Zoom," according to O'Brien....
Sure you were, Coach. Sure you were.

O'Brien, as it turns out, is pretty good at maneuvering during the draft
My biggest draft fear with O’Brien was his concept of value in maneuvering DURING the draft, trading picks for picks to move up and down, and certainly the optics of the trade with Detroit allegedly falling through on Friday didn't help. However, on Day 3, O'Brien did both of those things, moved up AND down, and did a fantastic job! He turned the 111th pick into two later 4th rounders, used two late 7th round picks to move up and snag OL Charlie Heck, then traded the 240th pick for a 6th rounder next season. Great job, William (and the Texans' analytics staff, who I'm sure were doing the math on these trades)!

ESPN knocked it out of the park with its production
As someone who lists his favorite hobby as "schadenfreude," I couldn't have been more disappointed in how smoothly everything ran for ESPN over the three day draft. As someone who just likes the ebb and flow of those three days as a relaxing dosage of football, I was thrilled with ESPN's production. The whole vibe with players, coaches, and GMs emanating from their homes was very real. I know that, going forward, the league will go back to a big onsite production in an NFL city (starting with Cleveland next year), so players will be back to walking the red carpet, but I hope more GMs and coaches do their thing at home. I don't want to go back to homogenized "war rooms"! The one thing I would ask ESPN to dial back on is the tsunami of sad stories about what felt like a majority of the players selected. I love a good redemption story, but holy crap, the barrage we got on Thursday and Friday was like binge watching 50 funerals.

As for the Texans, the only thing that keeps this from being an A is the thin overall numbers, just five players, and the fact that the one guy I REALLY wanted in the third round, Texas WR Devin Duvernay, was still there and went to the damn RAVENS two picks later. That hurt.


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