There was a lot of speculation over how Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine would handle his first draft with any real draft equity. Last season, he was without a first and second round pick, but this year he had not only one first round pick, but TWO second round picks. Would Gaine move up to go get a stud offensive lineman, or would he move back to accumulate even more picks?
In the end, Gaine stood tight with the seven picks that he had coming to him when the weekend started, and he assembled a draft class that was short on big school sizzle, but certainly addressed the acute needs of this team, specifically the offensive line and the secondary. Here are the draftees, in order, via Twitter handles:
Here are my four thoughts on this class:
The goal was clear, in both words and actions, and this is to protect Deshaun Watson
I love videos like the one below, where we get a chance to wander behind the scenes in places where we normally don't get to go. Check out this video sequence with Gaine telling his staff that Tytus Howard would be the pick at 23rd overall:
"Guys and gals, our whole goal this offseason was to do everything we could to protect our quarterback."
"We have to have guys who can be bodyguards for Deshaun Watson, man."
Those are Gaine's and O'Brien's exact words in this video, making the selection and welcoming Howard to the team. My feeling since Watson's six game tour de force in his rookie year has been that EVERY decision the franchise makes should come after asking the question "Is this in the best interests of Deshaun Watson?" He is the most important employee in the building.
So with that said, it was nice to see the actions back up Gaine's words
Hey, let's face it, it's not like the Texans had done much this off-season to try to accomplish the stated goal of protecting their quarterback. A one year contract for perpetually injured veteran offensive tackle Matt Kalil was the only free agency signing along the offensive line. Also, in the last several years, tackle has been a seemingly low priority in the draft, with the only tackle selection in the draft during the O'Brien Era being 2017 fourth round pick Julien Davenport (and how's that worked out?). We will see if Howard and Max Scharping, the second round pick out of Northern Illinois, meet the expectations that Gaine has for them, but at least the franchise is investing equity to rebuild what was once a pretty good offensive line back in 2011 and 2012. Here are the scouting reports on the two tackles, courtesy of Texans draft expert John Harris:
Tytus Howard...here you go. pic.twitter.com/vmmlsXM79P— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) April 26, 2019
Max Scharping coming to Houston... pic.twitter.com/Yqh26L0gzi— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) April 27, 2019
Then there's the secondary....
It was one of the stranger first rounds of the draft, as we almost went the entire first round without a cornerback being selected. DeAndre Baker of Georgia went off the board, finally, with the 30th pick, but it left a slew of talented cornerbacks on the board heading into Day 2. Most Texan fans wanted LSU's Greedy Williams, who has a cool nickname, if nothing else, but he ultimately went to the Browns with the 46th pick. Instead, the Texans used the 54th overall pick on Kentucky's Lonnie Johnson, who is the epitome of Gaine's "height, weight, speed" mantra. They added Central Michigan's Xavier Crawford in the sixth round, as well. Here is Harris' scouting reports on both guys:
Lonnie Johnson is a Texan - I LOVE it... pic.twitter.com/GheGNUh4Ou— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) April 27, 2019
Short scouting report on newest Texan - Xavier Crawford... pic.twitter.com/KkPa5AWwC5— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) April 27, 2019
The third and fifth round picks, TE Kahale Warring and DE Charles Omenihu, are intriguing...
Once the Texans had addressed offensive line and cornerback, it felt like they were free to start looking at some "best available" type prospects. In the third round, they somewhat unexpectedly added a tight end, taking San Diego State's Kahale Warring, who grew up a water polo player, and sort of stumbled onto football late in high school. The physical makeup of Warring makes him a VERY intriguing prospect, and adds more athleticism to an already pretty athletic, albeit very young, tight end room. In the fifth round, the Texans were able to nab Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu, the Big XII's leader in sacks in 2018 and the Big XII Defensive Lineman of the Year. We interviewed Omenihu on the Texans draft show on SportsRadio 610, and he said that his favorite player growing up was Jadeveon Clowney, so now (hopefully, barring an extended holdout or a trade) Omenihu will get to locker alongside his football hero. Here are Harris' scouting reports on Warring and Omenihu:
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Kahale Warring hasn't played a ton of football but he's a DUDE... pic.twitter.com/GJC9mpPP4Z— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) April 27, 2019
Charles Omenihu - another Longhorn in the building now... pic.twitter.com/4HARPm2jRE— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) April 27, 2019