When it comes to drafting, signing players, and general assembly of an NFL roster, over the last decade or so, the Texans probably rank right about where they seem to rank in nearly every on-field metric over that time — somewhere smack dab in the middle of the league. Right around average, the meaty part of the curve, or as George Costanza would say, "Not getting too far ahead, not falling too far behind."
That's fine if you're looking to slog your way to a very average existence on this earth, however, it's not really acceptable if you're in the zero sum game of professional sports, trying to win a Super Bowl. So the Texans have been better in some areas of roster building than others. To the good, it's hard to find a team who's operated BETTER in the first round of the draft than the Texans since 2008. Brown, Cushing, Jackson, Watt, Mercilus, Hopkins, Clowney, Fuller, Watson. I mean, damn.
However, the bizarro first round for the Texans, really in their history, but especially in the last eight seasons, has been the third round. With the waiving of D'Onta Foreman over the weekend, the Texans have now had a third round pick in each of Bill O'Brien's first four drafts as a head coach released with, at most, barely over two full seasons as an NFL player. (Jaelen Strong played two seasons and one game in 2017 before being waived after Week 2 of the season.)
That's an abomination, and malpractice any way you slice it, and it's my duty (unfortunately) to highlight this so that the Texans and their five-headed general manager can learn and get better at picking in the third round. Now, to be fair, I won't plunk down the third round picks of the last two seasons in this deep dive, because they're either played just one rookie season, or in the case of 2019 third rounder Kahale Warring, no snaps at all in the NFL.
So here are those players:
2019 - KAHALE WARRING, TE, San Diego St. (86th overall pick)
2018 - JUSTIN REID, S, Stanford (68th overall pick)
2018 - MARTINAS RANKIN, T, Mississippi St. (80th overall pick)
2018 - JORDAN AKINS, TE, Central Florida (98th overall pick)
Oddly enough, 2018's draft might yield two high level starters for the Texans for the next few seasons in Reid and Akins, and still, the streak of early waivers for third rounders has a decent chance at continuing with Rankin, who is not in the mix to start along the worst offensive line in the league right now. I guess when you have three picks in the third round, anything can happen!
Here are the rest, going back to 2012:
2017 - D'ONTA FOREMAN, RB, Texas (89th overall pick)
As outlined yesterday, Foreman was ultimately done in by work habit issues, not talent. An Achilles injury in his rookie year didn't help, and perhaps going through a grueling rehab of that injury exposed those subpar tendencies in Foreman. We will see how he does on his second chance.
2016 - BRAXTON MILLER, WR, Ohio St. (85th overall pick)
Miller was an exciting pick back in 2016, having been a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year as a quarterback at Ohio State, and having played receiver his final season in college. However, injuries and slow adaptation to what O'Brien was looking for left him on the chopping block at the end of last season's training camp. Miller was last seen bumping around on the Eagles' practice squad.
2015 - JAELEN STRONG, WR, Arizona St. (70th overall pick)
Missing on a third round pick is bad enough, but trading up to miss on a third round pick is brutal. In 2015, Rick Smith traded a fifth round pick, a seventh round pick, and 2012 third round failure (stay tuned in this article!) DeVier Posey to move up 12 spots in the third round and draft Strong. Strong caught an iconic touchdown in his rookie year, the game winner in the Texans' first ever road win at Indy, but that was about it. He is now trying to latch on with the Browns after serving some time in Jacksonville with Blake Bortles as his quarterback.
2014 - C.J. FIEDOROWICZ, TE, Iowa (65th overall pick)
Fiedorowicz arrived in Houston as the classic, hulking Iowa tight end, a vintage "first guy off the bus at a road game" monster. While he was good enough to earn a modest second contract, Fiedorowicz always had issues catching the football, and was eventually done in by concussion issues, and quietly retired before the 2018 season.
2014 - LOUIS NIX, DT, Notre Dame (83rd overall pick)
Like Strong, the Texans moved up in the draft to get Nix, who was part of some pretty good defenses in college at Notre Dame. Unfortunately, he was in Bill O'Brien's doghouse practically from jump, and he never played in a regular season game as a Texan. It just never seemed like Nix wanted to play NFL football.
2013 - BRENNAN WILLIAMS, OL, North Carolina (89th overall pick)
2013 - SAM MONTGOMERY, DE, LSU (95th overall pick)
The Texans had two third round picks in the 2013 draft, and both guys were snakebitten for entirely different reasons. Williams hurt his knee on the first day of rookie minicamp, eventually got microfracture surgery, spent the 2013 season on injured reserve, and was cut by Bill O'Brien before training camp in 2014. After brief stints as a Jaguar and Patriot, Williams retired from football in 2014, and is now a rising star in WWE's developmental territory. Montgomery, meanwhile, was a defensive end at LSU, and was asked to play outside linebacker in Wade Phillips' defense. He was eventually cut after getting caught smoking weed at the team hotel in Kansas City during that disastrous 2013 season.
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2012 - DeVIER POSEY, WR, Ohio St. (68th overall pick)
Posey was the first of two third round picks the Texans had in 2012. He had six catches as a rookie, and tore his Achilles in the playoff loss to the Patriots. His high point was catching 15 passes in the 2013 debacle season, and he was eventually (and ironically) shipped off in the deal where the Texans drafted Jaelen Strong, which is like replacing your broken lawn mower with some rusty hedge clippers.
2012 - BRANDON BROOKS, G, Miami (OH) (76th overall pick)
Brooks actually wound up being a really good NFL player, but unfortunately it was for the Philadelphia Eagles after he left in free agency after the 2015 season. Brooks became a Pro Bowler on a Super Bowl champion, and subsequently recounted his time playing for Bill O'Brien the way a prisoner recounts their time inside. It's cool, though, because the Texans replaced him with Jeff Allen. So... yeah....
Your move, Kahale!