HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans made the most aggressive draft move in franchise history by trading up to fill their biggest need and select quarterback Deshaun Watson in the first round of the NFL draft.
Although they insist that Tom Savage remains their starting quarterback, the pressure will certainly be on Watson to develop quickly after Houston sent next year’s first-round pick to Cleveland to snag him .
Barring another trade between now and then, the Texans won’t have a pick in the first two rounds of next year’s draft after trading away their second-round selection in 2018 to the Browns earlier this year in the deal that rid them of Brock Osweiler.
Watson brings impressive credentials to the Texans after appearing in two straight national championship games and winning the title this season.
“I went to the national championship game and I watched this guy play against a pretty good defense and I saw him make all the throws necessary with all the velocity at the specific times that he needed to put on the ball,” general manager Rick Smith said. “I think he’s got enough athleticism to play quarterback in this league and we feel pretty good about that.”
For now, the Texans expect Watson to do whatever he can to pick up coach Bill O’Brien’s system and be ready to compete when training camp begins.
“I know it’s going to be a challenge, which is what I’m up for,” Watson said. “But also I have a lot to learn, so I’m just anxious to get here and get to work and learn from Brandon Weeden and Tom Savage — two guys that I (was a) huge fan of who I watched while they were in college. So, it’s going to be a fun ride.”
Some things to know about Houston’s 2017 draft.
NEEDS ADDRESSED: After taking care of their most glaring need by adding Watson, the Texans got some help on the offensive line by taking Bucknell tackle Julien Davenport in the fourth round. Davenport started 44 games at left tackle in his college career, but could provide depth at right tackle in Houston with starter Derek Newton still recovering from injuries to both knees.
The Texans added Oregon State safety Treston Decoud in the fifth round to help beef up a secondary that lost cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Quintin Demps in free agency.
SHOULD CONTRIBUTE EARLY: The Texans should get early contributions from third-round pick D’Onta Foreman . The former Texas standout rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season and won the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s best collegiate running back.
The 6-foot, 233-pound Foreman should be a nice complement to starter Lamar Miller and help take some pressure off Miller after he had a career-high 268 carries last season.
HOW DOES THIS GUY FIT: The Texans needed an outside linebacker after losing John Simon to the Colts in free agency. Instead they selected Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham in the second round, a player who played inside linebacker exclusively in a college career where he piled up 295 tackles. Despite his lack of experience on the outside, O’Brien believes he can make the transition.
“I think he’s a versatile guy that can do both … but I know one thing, he is going to start out helping us on special teams right away,” he said. “Then I think wherever he plays on defense, we play so many different packages, I do think he can play outside as an outside linebacker and I think he can play some inside, too.”
ANOTHER TIGER: Houston picked up Watson’s teammate, Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins in the fourth round. The 6-3, 309-pound Watkins led the Tigers with 13 tackles for losses and 10 sacks to earn first-team All-ACC honors last season. The move gives Houston four players from Clemson with Watson and Watkins joining receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive tackle D.J. Reader on the roster.