It's too early to tell if the Texans' last couple of draft classes are cursed, just not that good or some combination of those two things.
The one thing that is undeniable is that, on the whole, it's hard to find another team in the NFL (certainly a team that is 2-1 and favored to win in Week 4 at home this weekend) that is getting less from its rookie and second-year draft picks, assuming they're still even with the team anymore, than the Houston Texans.
Aside from DeAndre Hopkins and, for the first few weeks this season, D.J. Swearinger, under-performance and injury have been the norm for the draft classes of 2013 and 2014, and based on Bill O'Brien's comments the past few weeks, you could argue that rookie nose tackle Louis Nix III encapsulated both of those things.
Texans fans have been waiting for the 350-pounder to get on the field. The wait will continue until at least 2015, as the Texans placed Nix on injured reserve late this morning.
Coming into the draft, despite coming off of knee surgery that cut short his senior year at Notre Dame, Nix was thought to be a first-round talent and a difference-maker at the nose tackle position. However, perhaps because of the injury uncertainty and almost certainly in part because of the devaluing of the nose tackle position as a whole, Nix slipped all the way to the back end of the third round.
With Romeo Crennel's version of the 3-4 defense always having a hefty nose tackle like Nix, the fit seemed perfect, so the Texans traded their fourth- and fifth-round picks to Philadelphia for the 83rd pick in the draft and selected Nix.
While it's too early to say the Nix pick has been a disaster for the Texans (disaster would be Jadeveon Clowney's knee injury lingering any further than the six weeks he's set to miss), considering they gave up a pick to move up and get him, it has at the very least been another heavy dent in the crumpled armor of Rick Smith as a talent evaluator.
The pre-draft knee injury with Nix is one thing (and something the Texans and every other team knew about), but not only did that knee injury necessitate a subsequent scope during OTA's, but clearly O'Brien has issues with Nix's work ethic and professionalism. On Monday, at his weekly press conference, O'Brien was once again asked if Nix was close to returning, in the wake of the Giants tearing up the Texans' defense for nearly 200 yards on the ground on Sunday.
"He's still got a ways to go, but he's getting better. He works hard after practice. I believe that he wants to be good, but he's got a ways to go," said O'Brien.
Not exactly effusive praise.
So now Nix goes to the injured reserve list, for what appears to be as much a chance to find his inner pro as it is to rehab his knee, a de facto redshirt year for a young player who was very popular and gregarious on his college team.
If you're keeping track at home, here's the scorecard for the Texans' last two rookie classes:
2013 Draft Class (round/selection number) 1/27. DeAndre Hopkins, WR: Solid, budding star player 2/57. D.J. Swearinger, S: Improving starter 3/89. Brennan Williams, OL: Released in July (knee injury) 3/95. Sam Montgomery, DE: Released last season (maturity issues) 4/124. Trevardo Williams, DE: Released before preseason (performance) 6/176. David Quessenberry, OL: Placed on Non-football injured list (lymphoma) 6/195. Alan Bonner, WR: Placed on injured reserve (foot) 6/198. Chris Jones, DT: Started 11 games for New England last season 6/201. Ryan Griffin, TE: Third string tight end on Texans
2014 Draft Class 1/1. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB: Rehabbing knee injury, out 4-6 weeks 2/33. Xavier Su-a-Filo, OL: Backup guard 3/65. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE: Backup tight end 3/83. Louis Nix III, NT: Placed on injured reserve (knee) 4/135. Tom Savage, QB: Third string quarterback 6/177. Jeoffrey Pagan, DE: Backup defensive end 6/181. Alfred Blue, RB: Backup running back, 1st career start Sunday (13/78 yds) 6/211. Jay Prosch, FB: Occasionally gets on field in short yardage 7/216. Andre Hal, CB: Special teams, backup cornerback 7/256. Lonnie Ballentine, S: Placed on injured reserve
Breakdown of the 19 players drafted in 2013 and 2014 * 3 starters (1 of whom is out 4-6 weeks) * 7 backup/part time players * 1 quarterback project * 4 no longer with the team * 4 on some form of injured/reserve list
My conclusion? The Texans should only draft players who play college football in the state of South Carolina. (Also...what a mess.)
In other transactions, the Texans signed former Rice kicker Chris Boswell to their practice squad as insurance behind punter Shane Lechler, who suffered a hip flexor on a blocked punt on Sunday against the Giants. Boswell punted 15 times for the Texans this preseason and was fairly solid.
To make room for Boswell, the Texans released cornerback Marcus Williams.