A couple of weeks ago I took you through my thought processes behind trading out of the first round of the NFLUKMock. After taking that bold step it became time to step up and take some action. The Houston Texans are in an interesting position entering the NFL Draft. They have one major need and handful of smaller needs.
I wrote about all their needs when I reviewed the AFC South in general earlier this offseason. The biggest need was always going to be offensive line this offseason, and after they did not do much to address it in free agency, that was the obvious place to look to improve in Rounds 2 & 3.
Pick 40: Erik McCoy, Guard/Centre, Texas A&M
As you might have guessed from the pick number I decided to trade up to make this pick. McCoy was my target with the first round pick, but he was not a great value there. I considered trying to get into the bottom of the first round, especially when Chris Lindstrom went at pick 31. However, when it got to 40 I could not leave it any longer, giving up picks 54 and 161 from this draft and fourth round pick next year to move up 14 spots. A slight overpay maybe but to get a player who could start this year at either guard or centre it was worth it.
Last year the Texans starting centre, Nick Martin, ranked 21st at the position, thanks largely to terrible run blocking grade. McCoy has the potential to be an instant upgrade. He put up incredible combine numbers and has some good tape for teams to fall in love with. The one criticism is that he needs to get stronger. If he doesn’t then he may prove not to be an upgrade in the run game. His workout numbers indicate he could be a useful mobile offensive lineman. Additionally, he demonstrated a good ability to control defenders when he got them in his sights. The flexibility to be able to move him back to guard if centre does not work is a very useful benefit to this pick.
Pick 60: Michael Deiter, Guard, Wisconsin
Another trade led to this pick. My original pick was at #55 but I wasn’t sold enough on anyone to take them there. Fortunately, the Chargers were looking to make a deal, meaning the Texans gained the 130th pick just to drop down from #55 to #60. In the end it worked perfectly as Deiter was likely to be my pick at #55.
The Texans guards were somewhat of a mess last season. Their two full time starters ranked 56th and 60th at the position according to PFF. Greg Mancz who started three games graded out better overall, but was the lowest ranked of the three in pass protection. Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton actually graded O.K as pass protectors, but were among the worst in the league as run blockers.
Deiter should offer an immediate upgrade in the run game, and has the potential to develop in the pass game. He is relatively untested against high quality interior rushers, so that is something teams will need to work on. His performance at the Senior Bowl was solid and the late second/early third is a perfect spot for his talent.
Pick 86: Trey Pipkins, Tackle, Sioux Falls
This time I was going nowhere. Pipkins was a player I had my eye on late in the third round and I was more than happy to snap him up when I came on the clock. Given he is a small school guy I did not expect the demand to be that high and therefore did not feel the need to move up to acquire him.
Being a small school player there are a lot of differing opinions on Pipkins, but he stood out to me at the East-West Shrine Game. The issue with Pipkins is that he may need some time to develop and the Texans do not really have that time. However, after signing Matt Kalil the Texans only really have a need at one tackle in 2019. Seantrel Henderson demonstrated enough promise as a pass blocker last season, that Pipkins could be a developmental project this season. His length and build give him the potential to be a starting tackle in the NFL, at least on the right side, if not the left.
The Final Word
It is highly unlikely that the Texans are as aggressive at offensive line as I was here. However, this is by far the biggest need for the team. They added talent in the secondary, which was the other area of need. At least two of these offensive linemen could be immediate plug-and-play starters. If that is the case then this start could set the Texans up for a potential deep run in the 2019 playoffs.
Image credit: Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia