Do Texans Need To Trade Up In NFL Draft To Get It Right At QB?

Patrick Mahomes to the Texans at No. 25 might make too much sense.

Thing is, the former Texas Tech QB would be a near-perfect fit for  a number of NFL teams, including some who pick before Houston in the first round of next month’s draft.

Among them: the Chargers (No. 7) and the Cardinals (No. 13). That’s probably why Mahomes has reportedly worked out for them in the past few days. With starters in their twilight (Phillip Rivers and Carson Palmer), and offenses that like to drive the ball downfield, both present a possible dream scenario for Mahomes. He could come in, sit for a year or two, transition from the Air Raid scheme he ran in college to a more traditional pro style offense and, potentially, thrive.

Would the Chargers take Mahomes that high? It doesn’t seem likely, given where many of the “experts” have pegged Mahomes draft stock. (Late first round, early second). Then again, who saw Blake Bortles going to the Jaguars at No. 3 in 2014? EJ Manuel to the Bills at No. 16 in 2013? Exactly. If we’ve learned to expect anything from the NFL Draft, it’s to expect nothing. Owners are loons. GMs and head coaches get antsy. When that clock starts ticking, anything can happen.

That said, even if Mahomes doesn’t go seventh, he might not make it past No. 13, and head coach Bruce Arians. Mahomes’s tools, and Arians’s play-calling. If the Texans can get Deshaun Watson — more on that in a second — there’s a part of me that wants to see Mahomes in Arizona.

Before we go any further, it’s worth noting: what we’re doing is the literal reason many teams hold pre-draft workouts in the first place, to create perceived interest in a prospect. Who knows. Maybe the Chargers and/or Cardinals really like former Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer, who, like Mahomes, has exceptional physical gifts, but is a bit of a project. Maybe they’re trying to make sure any team who wants Mahomes spends a ton in a trade to get him, and leaves Kizer for them.

Either way, there’s a real chance that if the Texans want Mahomes, they’ll have to move up.

How high would they have to go?

If they were truly desperate, they could get on the phone with the Jets (No. 6) and GM Mike Macagnan, who spent about 15 years in the Texans scouting department. Rick Smith’s relationship with John Elway has facilitated a number of Houston-Denver trades. Likewise,  you’d think Macagnan would be willing to take a call from one of his former co-workers.

Other possible trade partners:

Panthers. No. 8. Cam Newton is coming off offseason shoulder surgery. He needs help. Lots of it.

Bengals. No. 9. Andy Dalton has lost a ton the last few years, including WRs Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones and OL Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth. If a trade down isn’t on the table, it should be.

Saints. No. 11. They just traded WR Brandin Cooks, their defense is terrible and they’re in salary cap hell. Unless Sean Payton wants a replacement for Drew Brees, they need the extra assets.

Browns. No. 12. Would you be surprised if the Browns — and their super-duper smart, analytically-driven front office — punted on drafting a franchise QB again? Because I wouldn’t be.

Eagles. No. 14. Carson Wentz was expensive. Why not recoup some of that cost?

We could break down possible packages for each team, and talk about what players should be on (DeAndre Hopkins) and off (basically everybody on defense) the table, but it should be noted: Tony Romo has a major impact on any proposal they might make. With him, the Texans are instantly the second best team in the AFC, behind the Patriots, and ahead of the Steelers, Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders and certainly everybody in the AFC South. Without him, they’ve got Tom Savage, who carries all of the injury risk as Romo (if not more) and none of the assurances that he can actually play.

So it’s very possible that, with Romo, the Texans are picking No. 28-30 in the first round next year, and with Savage, they’re picking No. 14-16. The difference in the value of those draft picks is *massive.* How, then, can the Texans entertain possible trade scenarios to move up the board if they don’t know whether or not they’ll have Romo, and so don’t really know what those assets are worth?

I refuse to end this (column? blog? whatever this is) by talking about Romo, another consideration is, if the Texans are going to make that big of a move up the draft board, should they be doing it for Mahomes? Or for Watson, who figures to be less of a project than Mahomes, with more experience (38 starts, to Mahomes’ 32) and resume material (Heisman finalist in 2015, two straight National Championship berths, against Nick Saban and Alabama, and win this year)? Much as I love Mahomes — and to be clear, I *love* Mahomes — my Man Crush on Watson is well documented. I’d be happy with either QB, but if they somehow landed Watson, I’d be drinking as much as I would be if they signed Jay Cutler, only for the literal opposite reason.

There’s a lot to digest here, but the point is, unless you’ve talked yourself into Mitchell Trubisky (who’s gonna need all of the developing as Watson and Mahomes, but even fewer starts and accomplishments) or Kizer (who some talent evaluators seem to genuinely wonder if he loves football), a big move up the draft board may be something the Texans need to do. Assuming they want to secure a QB of the future and all that. (Insert part about their whopping zero QBs drafted in the first three rounds since 2003, and only two in the entire history of the franchise).

Question is: will they?

Matt hosts Saturdays from 1-4 pm on SportsRadio 610. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter @MattHammond.

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