HOUSTON -- Teams can always find ways to win without a first-round pick. The New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams have proved in the last five years it’s about the prospect instead of the position.
A second-round pick though could be essential for any rebuilding franchise. For the Houston Texans, they might have missed on the next great gem.
Houston won’t be picking until No. 67 thanks to the Laremy Tunsil deal. The Miami Dolphins were willing to part ways with the Pro Bowl left tackle in exchange for two first-round picks and a future second-round selection.
Sure, it'd be nice to be drafting near the very top of Round 1. But additionally ...
That second-round selection has arrived in the form of pick No. 36. Based on the history, it’s a great bet Miami will be adding a star talent to the South Beach franchise.
Considering how the NFL Draft goes, the first 10 selections in the second round are basically first-round talents that missed the cut. The talent and upside they bring ideally puts the No. 36 selection in line to be a franchise-caliber superstar.
For Houston, it’s a lose-lose situation no matter how you spin it.
In class featuring untapped potential at the edge position, names like Penn State’s Jayson Oweh, Tulsa’s Zaven Collins and Miami’s Gregory Rousseau all could fall outside the first 32 selections. The Texans are hoping to improve the run game after finishing 32nd last season.
Houston also must find a standout pass-rush to replace the production of three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
Oweh shined at Penn State containing running backs while Rousseau’s upside in one-on-one drills could have him terrorizing offenses for year to come.
Alas, that pick belongs to Miami, meaning they’ll get a multitude of options when on the clock.
The history of the No. 36 selection has bode well for the playing careers of the lucky name called. Still young, Giants safety Xavier McKinney (’20) and 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (’19) are viewed as building blocks for the future.
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Other names like Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (’18), Cardinals safety Budda Baker (’17), Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (’14) and Eagles cornerback Darius Slay ('13), already have reached the Pro Bowl-caliber status since hearing their name called early Friday evening.
The Texans’ overall success on the left side from Tunsil warranted likely one — if not two first-round selections. Since entering NRG Stadium, he’s a two-time Pro Bowler and has been near flawless in pass protection, grading out with at an 85.0 or better by Pro Football Focus.
The second-round pick was basically a throw in for wide receiver Kenny Stills. The former Dolphins No. 2 target was expected to be a game-changer for Houston’s offense with Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. He was waived before the end of the 2020 season, recording just 51 catches and five touchdowns.
Hopkins is now with the Cardinals. Fuller headed to Miami this spring. Watson asked for a trade this offseason, but currently is facing allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. Houston or not, who knows when he suits up again.
With needs at wide receiver, cornerback, defensive line and tight end, Houston would have had their cream of the crop of names to select. Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore, LSU’s Terrace Marshall and Florida’s Kardius Toney all have entered first-round chatter.
Georgia’s Eric Stokes and Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr. are fringe day 1 talents due to the value of a speedy cornerbacks in coverage.
And yes, the pass-rushing talent expected to fall is already enough to sour a Bulls on Parade fan’s stomach.
The talent found on April 29 is immense, meaning a very good player won’t hear their name called until April 30. For Miami, who finished 10-6 and one game away from making the playoffs, they’ll add a plug-and-play starter that can contribute right away.
Tunsil will be a Texan for three more seasons barring a trade. If the the quarterback position is in-tact and Tusnil continues to thrive, fans might respect then-Bill O’Brien’s call to ship away two Day 1 picks.
With the success rate at No. 36, plus the need for a new franchise face, the loss of the early day 2 selection is the kick while down sensation to cap off the Texans’ wild and unsettling offseason.
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