Mar 3, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Bucknell offensive lineman Julie’n Davenport squares off in the mirror drill against San Diego State offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill during the 2017 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Texans focused on depth on the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft, opting for developmental hopefuls rather than immediate contributors.
While the 2017 NFL Draft has, on the whole, been kind to the Houston Texans, the draft strategy should be questioned. With a lot of emphasis places on depth — especially on Day 3 — the Texans are playing more toward their future than for immediate gains.
This is critical for the Texans as they hope to remain competitive as playoff regulars and also remain competitive in the AFC South, which can be won with a record barely above .500.
Hopefully these picks pay off in the long run for Houston. We grade each pick throughout the third day of the draft, starting in Round 4.
Julie’n Davenport became the 130th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, finally filling a spot on the offensive line for the Houston Texans. Unfortunately, he may not be an immediate contributor. For the Texans, this is a developmental pick based on traits. Davenport is a big-bodied player who could develop. He is a small school player that did well at Bucknell but also did not dominate at the FCS level.
If Davenport can develop, then the Texans will look smart here. The real question is whether he can develop quickly. Davenport’s competition just became a lot faster and a lot tougher and he will have to get up to speed sooner than later if the Texans hope to have a competent offensive line.
While there is a confidence in Davenport’s potential, waiting this long to address the offensive line is worrisome. Either the Texans think Davenport can develop quickly or they think that the current offensive line is satisfactory for now. Only the 2017 season will tell, especially if the Texans defense is able to keep the Texans in games, but it would have been nice to see the Texans pick someone who can play O-Line before waiting to the fourth round.
That is not a slight on Davenport, but it is a slight on this as a selection in the overall Texans draft strategy, making this pick just a C-level grade.
With the 142nd pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected Carlos Watkins, defensive tackle from Clemson. An athletic big man who can get after the quarterback and suck up blocks (though he has had limited success when double-teamed).
This is another pick that does not fill a serious need for the Texans, making it an intriguing pick but not necessarily one worthy of a high grade. He has a lot of upside for the defensive line, but he may have to wait a while before he gets to see a lot of snaps.
The Texans defense is the team’s strength. He will play defensive end in the Houston 3-4 front, but the Texans are stacked at the position. I am predicting it will take time for Watkins to see the field. At this point in the draft, just a couple picks from the end of the fourth round, teams are not necessarily looking for someone to be an immediate contributor. As a developmental prospect, Watkins could be a wise selection in a few years.
Again, there are some other, more pressing concerns that could use developmental picks than defense here. I like Watkins and think he could further solidify that dominant defense in coming years, but it isn’t a pick that makes much of a difference for the team in the immediate future.
Nov 26, 2016; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers cornerback Treston Decoud (14) knocks the ball from Oregon Ducks wide receiver Charles Nelson (6) in the first half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Another depth piece for the Houston Texans defense, Treston Decoud will have to work hard to carve out some reps from a talented defensive secondary. Instead, expect Decoud to do most of his work on special teams.
In that regard, Decoud is a solid later-round selection by the Texans. He brings physicality on special teams and, maybe, to the defense. If he gets on the field with more regularity, the Texans may see if they can use him in versatile roles as a defensive back with size.
While the Texans did not have a sixth round pick, this was a bit of a reach at the end of the fifth. Decoud may have been available in the seventh round. Either way, the Texans get what they want with Decoud.
Decoud had 77 tackles in his last two seasons with Oregon State in 22 total games. He also had 5.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. Tack on two interceptions and 15 passes defensed and Decoud’s production makes his upside a little more appealing with some production backing it up.
Dec 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Baylor Bears offensive lineman Kyle Fuller (55) against the Boise State Broncos during the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field. Baylor defeated Boise State 31-12. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
It was exciting to see the Houston Texans go back to the offensive line in the seventh round and get another body that has some upside.
Kyle Fuller, coming out of Baylor, is going to be a raw player. He was not asked to do a lot at Baylor because of the offensive system and will have to prove he can adapt to the Texans scheme. While it may be tough to say he is a raw player, he certainly has room to grow.
On the whole, however, this is a likable pick. Fuller’s upside is his size. If he can learn better technique and develop his game while learning behind others on the Texans offensive line, Fuller has the unteachable size that gives the Texans value. Size matters in the offensive line, especially at center, so it’s possible to see Fuller as a developmental prospect that can deliver in a few years.
On the whole, Fuller caps off day three of the 2017 NFL Draft as a reflection of the overall draft for the Texans. He, like others, will be a depth contributor and can grow into a role. That may not have been perfect for what the Texans need to compete right now, but it does hold value for the future as Houston tries to weigh future growth while keeping the playoff and championship window open right now.