HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) — No first or second round pick, no problem.
That seems to be the mentality of new Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine, who said today at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that he believes the team can make big improvements despite not having primo draft capital to work with.
“I see a great opportunity,” he said. “I know we don’t have a first or second round pick, but we have three picks in the third round, in close to what’s approximately the top 100. So I feel like we have an opportunity to fortify the roster in that round as well.”
The Texans dealt their 2018 first rounder during last year’s draft, to trade up for Deshaun Watson, and their 2018 second rounder near the start of free agency, to unload Brock Osweiler and his contract.
They will, however, have three picks in the third round — one from the Duane Brown trade with the Seattle Seahawks and one compensatory pick for losing A.J. Bouye in free agency last spring.
It’ll be a tall order for Gaine, who replaced Rick Smith this offseason. For all the things Smith got right during his time calling the shots, including a nearly perfect record in the first round and quality work in the later rounds and with undrafted free agents, his selections in the middle rounds were borderline disastrous.
It’s worth noting, it’s hard to find an example of a team that’s drafted well despite not having its top two selections.
In recent NFL history, the Browns (2008), Cowboys (2009), Bears (2010), Raiders (2012), Saints (2012) and Patriots (2017) have all entered a draft without a first or second round pick.
Yet, the only players landed in those drafts that could be considered successful are Akiem Hicks (Saints) and Ahtya Rubin (Browns).
The good news for the Texans and Watson, who’s coming off of a season ending ACL tear, they have $63 million in cap space to play with this offseason, sixth most in the NFL.
“I think history has shown, it’s been proven, that you can find starters at varying levels in the draft,” Gaine said. “I have a history of doing that myself, and then try to supplement the roster through any free agent opportunities that might present themselves.”