The Texans certainly took notice of the lack of speed on the offensive side of the ball. The first handful of picks went to address just those things. This is one of the better draft classes in recent Texans history, as a majority of their recent earlier picks haven’t panned out quite yet. But it’s a new season, and a new reason to get excited about the future of professional football for the defending AFC South Champions.
1st Round, 21st overall: WR Will Fuller (Notre Dame)
2nd Round, 50th overall: C Nick Martin (Notre Dame)
3rd Round, 85th overall: WR Braxton Miller (Ohio State)
4th Round, 119th overall: RB Tyler Ervin (San Jose State)
5th Round, 159th overall: S K.J. Dillon (West Virginia)
5th Round, 166th overall: DT D.J. Reader (Clemson)
Texans 2016 Draft Grade: 8/10
Houston Texans 2016 Draft Review
The Best Player: This undoubtedly has to be Will Fuller, who will become an immediate starter this season, taking some of the workload off of DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller was the fastest receiver at this year’s combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds. But he’s not just fast. He has an amazing ability with the ball in his hands and showed it while at Notre Dame. He averaged 20.3 yards per catch on 62 catches during his final season in college, and averaged more than 45 yards per touchdown reception as well. This is exactly what newly-acquired quarterback Brock Osweiler needs entering his first season as the apparent starting quarterback for the Texans. Fuller is a home run. Expect big things out of this young man, and quickly.
The Head-Scratcher: Tyler Ervin is a quick running back out of San Jose State, and I mean quick. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine and had the second-highest vertical and broad jump among running backs in attendance. His speed is no question. The only concern is where will he fit? The Texans just signed Lamar Miller to quite a lucrative deal and he is without question the starter. Houston has also held on to a few of its running “committee” from last year. As the season draws closer, the answer may become more apparent.
The Surprise: D.J. Reader is a big, strong nose tackle that is exactly the typical nose tackle the Texans want. He’s around 330 pounds, and is excited to give incumbent starter Vince Wilfork a run for his money. It’ll be interesting to see what the Texans do with him while Wilfork is clearly the starter. Since I don’t think Wilfork is going anywhere soon, this pick was a bit surprising, but Reader can learn a lot from his predecessor to make him superior at the position in the years to come. But for now, it’s Wilfork’s job.
The Steal: Braxton Miller was a threat all over the field on offense while at Ohio State. He was once the starting quarterback, only to then transition to wide receiver. He even has a few snaps as a running back under his belt. His impact to this team is going to be immediately felt, and keep an eye out for him to compete for the starting slot receiver position with Cecil Shorts III. What makes Braxton such a valuable addition is that he could see time at wide receiver, see some plays on special teams, line up at running back, and even contribute some crafty wildcat quarterbacking.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Nick Martin will find a comfortable spot in the middle of the Texans offensive line. He will have some familiarity with fellow Texan, Will Fuller, with whom he also played with at Notre Dame. Martin will get straight to work replacing Ben Jones as the new starting center in front of Osweiler. He also has the ability to shift along the line to help if needed, which will greatly aid in the event of any injuries. Look for him to impress coaches immediately in training camp.
The Rest: K.J. Dillon is a versatile safety with the ability to fill either safety spot in a pinch. He should be a solid depth player in the Texans secondary. Expect to see his biggest impact on special teams, as the Texans have two incumbent safeties.
The Bottom Line: The Texans are poised to defend their AFC South Championship, drafting players to fill a majority of their holes. They answered many questions with free agent signings, and have complemented those signings with their draft picks. Look for Fuller, Martin, and perhaps Miller to be Week 1 starters. Expect to see Ervin situationally as well. Reader and Dillon will sit initially behind some veteran talent, but fans will eagerly await the outcome of their developments.