The Houston Texans have had quite the offseason. The decision to trade all-world wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson and a second-round pick drew criticism from all corners of football media. The criticism was well-deserved.
Houston entered the 2020 NFL draft without a first-round pick after sending their selection (and 2021’s first-rounder) to the Miami Dolphins for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil last September. The second-round selection they acquired from the Cardinals — No. 40 overall — was their first in this year’s draft and they flipped it into TCU defensive tackle, Ross Blacklock.
Johnson and Blacklock for Hopkins? Yikes.
And remember: Houston traded their 2020 second-round selection to the Rams for veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Overall, the Texans added five players in the 2020 NFL draft: Jonathan Greenard (edge, Florida), Charlie Heck (OT, UNC), John Reid (CB, Penn State), Isaiah Coulter (WR, Rhode Island), and Blacklock.
Their draft performance drew criticism from ESPN’s longtime analyst, Mel Kiper Jr.
As for what the Texans got this weekend, Ross Blacklock (40) is a defensive tackle whom Todd McShay really liked, but there were mixed opinions around the league. He played as a nose tackle often for TCU, but he has some pass-rush ability. Could he could slide out to end in this 3-4 defense and get after passers, or is he going to be a nose tackle? At the very least, he’s going to be stout against the run.
Outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard (90) had 9.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss last season, but he didn’t crack my top 100. Isaiah Coulter (171) is a 6-foot-2 wide receiver who was at his best against good competition. I had a fourth-round grade on him, and he lasted until the end of Round 5.
All of Houston’s recent roster moves are the result of decisions made by coach Bill O’Brien, who’s actually been relatively effective with the product he’s put on the field. He’s led the team to four playoff appearances in six seasons including back-to-back AFC South titles the last two years.
But his decision to trade Hopkins, the team’s best offensive weapon aside from quarterback Deshaun Watson, will be a net negative even with the acquisition of Cooks, who when healthy is an effective downfield threat.
They did nothing in this year’s draft to make up for that loss at wide receiver, either.
“This isn’t a special class,” Kiper wrote, “and you have to factor in O’Brien’s worth on trades as well, which is why it gets a C-plus from me.”
When combining the terrible Hopkins trade with an underwhelming 2020 draft haul, the Texans could soon find themselves on a downward trend despite the presence of Watson, who’s one of the NFL’s most exciting young superstars.