Last Thursday, during what was ostensibly billed as his "Pre-Draft Press Conference," Texans head coach/GM Bill O'Brien was asked 27 questions. Exactly THREE of them had anything to do with this week's NFL Draft. That stands to reason, as O'Brien's noteworthy moves this offseason have been mroe about actual human beings — DeAndre Hopkins, David Johnson, Brandin Cooks — than esoteric draft capital.
O'Brien did, though, at a couple junctures, mention the importance of the draft, particularly the 40th overall selection (the Texans' first pick, as of now), as a means to improve the roster.
"We feel very, very good about being able to get the 40th pick, being able to get David Johnson. We feel really good about, when we looked at the analytics of it based on the production that was leaving our team and the production that we were bringing in and then what we were able to do – again, it’s very incomplete and we have several roster moves left to go, including a draft and all the other things I mentioned earlier."
O'Brien is running out of ways to significantly impact the depth chart for 2020. Free agency is at the "bargain bin" stage, and the significant draft capital has largely been shipped out. They've got seven selections in the draft, starting Friday night and extending into Saturday afternoon. So what does history tell us about their chances of improving their team with those specific picks?
They have the 40th, 90th, 111th, 171st, 240th, 248th, and 250th picks. Here is the thumbnail sketch at draft success in each of those spots, going all the way back to the beginning of NFL Draft times (the late 1930s, in case you're wondering), including the player with the highest PFR Approximate Value, number of total Pro Bowls by all players drafted, and the complete failure rate (the percentage of players who never played a down in the league) of each slot:
2nd Round (40th overall)
HIGHEST PFF AV: Michael Strahan, DE, 121 AV (drafted 1993, NYG)
NUMBER OF PRO BOWLS: 39
COMPLETE FAILURE RATE: 13.3 percent (0 since 1974)
Not surprisingly, this is the Texans' draft slot with, by far, the biggest success rate, including two Hall of Fame players (Strahan, Thurman Thomas) with Houston ties, and several young wide receivers currently in the league (Sterling Shepard, Courtland Sutton, Curtis Samuel). Given the razor thin margin for error, this is the most important pick for the Texans since the moved up to take Deshaun Watson in 2017.
3rd Round (90th overall)
HIGHEST PFF AV: Matt Schaub, QB, 70 AV (drafted 2004, ATL)
NUMBER OF PRO BOWLS: 15
COMPLETE FAILURE RATE: 22.5 percent (0 since 1994)
I know this one will trigger some longtime Texan fans — yes, Matt Schaub is the best at something! He is the most valuable 90th overall pick in league history, according to Pro Football Reference! Hey, it's not exactly a bust in Canton, but it's something. Other notable names include WR Antonio Freeman, former Texans C Mike Flanagan, and C Seth McKinney (brother of former Texans C Steve McKinney).
4th Round (111th overall)
HIGHEST PFF AV: Grady Alderman, T, 78 AV (drafted 1960, DET)
NUMBER OF PRO BOWLS: 8
COMPLETE FAILURE RATE: 26.4 percent (0 since 1995)
I know nothing about Alderman other than it must have been pretty bad ass to be a player at Detroit Mercy and then get drafted by the Lions. The only other noteworthy player I can find is current Rams C Brian Allen, who was the first NFL player to be diagnosed with COVID-19.
5th Round (171st overall)
HIGHEST PFF AV: Gary Anderson, K, 50 AV (drafted 1982, BUF)
NUMBER OF PRO BOWLS: 9
COMPLETE FAILURE RATE: 41.9 percent
Anderson had a tremendous career, but unfortunately for him, he is probably best known for missing a field goal that would have clinched the 1998 NFC title for the Vikings. In fact, seven of the nine Pro Bowls accounted for in the 171st pick come from specialists (two kickers, one punter). Shout out to Nathan Peterman, 171st pick in 2017!
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7th Round (240th overall)
HIGHEST PFF AV: Shawn Jefferson, WR, 53 AV (drafted 1991,, HOU)
NUMBER OF PRO BOWLS: 0
COMPLETE FAILURE RATE: 59.7 percent
Jefferson hung around the league long enough to notch over 7,000 yards receiving over 13 years. Not bad for a ninth round pick. (Yes, he was picked back when the draft was nine rounds.) The other intriguing names picked at 240th overall include some dude named John Denvir (drafted in 1962, and fun to imagine it's the late singer), and Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Now (drafted in 1953 by Cleveland).
7th Round (248th overall)
HIGHEST PFF AV: Kyle Kosier, G, 54 AV (drafted 2002, SF)
NUMBER OF PRO BOWLS: 2
COMPLETE FAILURE RATE: 51.4 percent
Kosier was a starter for the Niners, and later the Cowboys, for the better part of eight seasons. The most familiar name in this draft slot is probably current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, drafted by the Niners in 1991.
7th Round (250th overall)
HIGHEST PFF AV: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, 75 AV (drafted 2005, STL)
NUMBER OF PRO BOWLS: 6
COMPLETE FAILURE RATE: 45.1 percent
FITZY! A 75 Career Approximate Value is higher than Schaub, and thus, the highest of any QB with "Houston Texans" on the back of his figurative football card. Other fun names at 250th overall include QB Trevor Siemian (a homeless man's Fitzy!), former texans QB Bradlee Van Pelt, and super agent Tom Condon (drafted by the Chiefs in 1974).