Houston Texans 2017 NFL Draft Profile

It’s day 23 of Draftmas and the Houston Texans are on the clock.

Summary

Last year the Houston Texans got to the playoffs yet again, but lost in the Divisional Round for the third time since 2011. They will be trying to build on that this season, but will have a hard time doing so without a franchise quarterback.

The offense was pretty miserable last season, scoring 17.4 points per game. Rushing offense was their forte, as they ranked eighth in the league.

Brock Osweiler is gone, which is addition by subtraction, but Tom Savage is the top quarterback on the depth chart now. The Texans have said they are confident in him, but will likely want to find at the very least, a quarterback for the future in this draft. Lamar Miller did the most he could last season behind a not so good offensive line. If they draft a running back it will only be a change of pace back.

Deandre Hopkins is a great receiver, but behind him there are some problems. Will Fuller showed flashes last season, but was very inconsistent. Braxton Miller has to step up next season too. C.J. Fiedorowicz is a good option at tight end. The offensive line will need some improvements, as left tackle Duane Brown and center Greg Mancz were the only players who played well up front last season.

J.J. Watt (Photo courtesy: si.com)

Defensively, Houston was in the top half of the league in rush defense, allowing 1,595 rushing yards on the season. Their pas defense ranked second in the league last season, but has some key components to replace.

J.J. Watt will return from injury and the hope is that he can return to the great form he had just a few seasons ago. The rest of the defensive line needs to be addressed, especially with the risk of Watt re-injuring himself. Outside linebacker is set with Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. Inside linebacker is also solid for the time being with Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney, but the Texans could elect to take a guy in the late rounds to groom for the future.

The secondary will need some work as well. A.J. Bouye has left for the Jaguars. Jonathan Joseph is aging and while Kevin Johnson and Kareem Jackson are solid, they will need to find some more good corners behind them. Corey Moore and Andre Hal are both average safeties, but could be upgraded.

Picks and Needs

The Texans have seven picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. If they select the right players, they can find themselves back in the playoffs again.

First round: (1) No. 25

Second round: (1) No. 57

Third round: (1) No. 89

Fourth round: (2) No. 131, No. 142

Fifth round: (1) No. 169

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 243

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Guard- Xavier Su’a-Filo hasn’t lived up to expectations and Jeff Allen only played good for one season. They could at least use one from the later rounds.

Right Tackle- Chris Clark shouldn’t be starting and the Texans can really benefit from taking a tackle early in the draft.
Quarterback- Brock Osweiler is gone, but Tom Savage is the starter as of now. They will need to take one quarterback in this draft class.
Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- The Texans need help and depth around J.J. Watt.

Cornerback- Losing A.J. Bouye is tough, but Houston still has a few decent corners. They will need one for the future and that can play in the dime.

Safety- Both Moore and Hal are average and improvements can be found in this draft.

Targets and Thoughts

The picks here are who the Texans could realistically get where they are drafting. There will be no trades.

First Round:

Pick #25: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Deshaun Watson (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

 Watson is a quarterback that the fans and media love, but that NFL scouts aren’t as sold on. He could go higher than this if a team likes him like the fans do, but if he is drafted closer to where scouts say he should be, the Texans will be able to get him. He needs to develop and become better mentally as a quarterback, as his decision making was not good last season at Clemson. Watson is a dynamic playmaker though and could battle Savage for the starting job.


Second Round:

Pick #57: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

Kpassagnon is a huge defensive end that needs to get better while in the NFL. He comes from the FCS level, which will raise some questions about the level of competition he faced, but he will be a perfect fit for the Texans 3-4 defense.

Third Round:

Pick #89: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

The Texans need to get improved offensive line play and Moton will be available. He played right tackle in college and can do that in the NFL, or move to guard. He should be able to fit in at one of the positions of need on the offensive line for Houston.

Conclusion

The Texans have gotten to the playoffs without a franchise quarterback before and can do it again. Even if they take Watson, or any other quarterback in this draft class, he likely won’t play lights out from day one. Taking good players in this draft and getting J.J. Watt back to form can lead the Texans back to the playoffs.

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas here!

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San Francisco 49ers 2017 NFL Draft Profile

It is day two of TGH Draftmas, and today we will be looking at the San Francisco 49ers!

Summary

The 49ers have been in a free fall the past few seasons. They fired Chip Kelly, had the Colin Kaepernick situation and do not seem to have a real direction.

Then they hired Kyle Shanahan. He is a great young mind in coaching and helped orchestrate one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL in Atlanta. Kelly always seemed like a reach to me. I think they have found their guy with Shanahan to help them rebuild what has become a pretty bad situation in Santa Clara.

They brought in Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley to presumably battle it out in training camp. Neither of them are going to be long-term solutions (most likely in Barkley’s case), but they should provide some sort of bridge to whoever is next.

Free agency has been helpful in filling spots, but nothing has been very eye catching. Pierre Garcon will be a small upgrade over Torrey Smith. Kyle Juszczyk is a nice piece, but he plays a position that has little value in the league. They also signed Marquise Goodwin, but they likely overpaid him.

John Lynch is also their new general manager, and I still do not know how to feel about that.

The 49ers have a long road of rebuilding ahead of them. Lets get into their picks.

Picks and Needs

The 49ers have a solid 10 picks in this draft, but most of them are in later rounds.

First round: (1) No. 2

Second round: (1) No. 34

Third round: (1) No. 66

Fourth round: (2) No. 109, No. 143

Fifth round: (2) No. 146, No. 161

Sixth round: (2) No. 186, No. 202

Seventh round: (1) No. 219

Many of the 49ers’ picks will be based on getting the best value they can in the later rounds. Finding diamonds in the rough are not uncommon, but rarely do you get more than one per draft.

Sorry 49ers fans, just about every position on this team could be upgraded in the draft. So I will be focusing on getting the best value in this draft profile.

Overall though, I will say these are their biggest needs in no particular order for Offense:

Quarterback

Wide Receiver

Guard

For Defense:

Pass rushing OLB

Cornerback

Targets and Thoughts

I will pick who I think is best for the team just as I did in my other draft profile. There will be no trades and I will be looking at just the first three rounds.

First Round:

Courtesy of: TexasHSFootball.com

Pick #2: Solomon Thomas DE, Stanford

I think that if Myles Garrett is not picked by the Browns (or whoever they may trade with), that the 49ers will take him. Solomon Thomas is the next best pick in my opinion.

I know many people have also predicted this, but how can you not? He is a strong kid that knows how to get to the quarterback and be disruptive in the backfield. He is basically what every team wants.

Second Round:

Pick #34: Curtis Samuel RB/WR, Ohio State

Many 49ers fans may not like this pick, but I think Kyle Shanahan is going to love it. Samuel is a versatile back that will add explosiveness to any offense. Shanahan is an offensive guy and he will want the best offensive playmaker left on the board at pick 34.

Third Round:

Pick #66: Taylor Moton OT, Western Michigan

Moton may not be the sexiest pick, but if he is still available, I think the 49ers take him. Successful rebuilds require a solid offensive line. Moton could very well be a nice piece for Shanahan to rebuild his line around. He is strong and can even move to guard if they think he works better there.

Conclusion

The 49ers lack many early picks to try and get this rebuild started quickly. I think they will draft the best player available on their board more so than look for any position in particular. This team has a long road ahead of it, but I believe that with a smart draft and a couple lucky picks in late rounds, this draft could be a good start.

Thank you for joining us on our second day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the Chicago Bears!

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas below!

Draftmas Day 1: Cleveland Browns

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Franchise Analysis – Los Angeles Chargers

In just over a calendar year, Los Angeles goes from having zero, to two NFL franchises. Both the Chargers and Rams had disappointing seasons for a variety of reasons, but are incredibly different. While they both will have rookie head coaches in 2017, the Chargers are in a much better position to rebound. With Anthony Lynn at the start of his head coaching career, and Phillip Rivers at the end of his playing career, what will the Los Angeles Chargers look like in 2017?

2016 Evaluation – Offense

Melvin Gordon put the critics to bed with his offensive output this year as the Chargers’ work horse back (Courtesy of; Chargers.com).

Entering the 2016 season, one could argue that Melvin Gordon was the biggest offensive question mark. At this point, you know what you get with Phillip Rivers. He’s going to take chances and sometimes they don’t always work out. But, when an organization spends a first round pick on a running back who failed to reach the end zone in his first season, that can raise some eyebrows. Thankfully, Melvin Gordon did not disappoint. Gordon was effective even though the Chargers finished as a bottom third rushing attack. Despite missing the final three games and only playing eight snaps in another, Gordon rushed for 997 yards averaging 3.9 yards per carry.

As most Chargers fans know, Gordon wasn’t able to be as much of a factor because of negative game flow. The offense often had to resort to throwing their way back into the game. As a whole, the Chargers finished 9th in points and 14th in yards according to Pro Football Reference. This offense had one fatal flaw, turnovers. Rivers led the NFL with 21 interceptions. The Chargers also lost 14 fumbles, tied for 2nd highest in the league. Meaning, this offense must become more efficient in 2017 if they want to compete. One way to become more efficient is to have better balance on offense, starting with the offensive line.

Like many teams, the Chargers suffered from multiple critical injuries; they must upgrade the offensive guard position. Using Pro Football Focus player rankings to compare players at the same position, the Chargers suffered from poor offensive guard play. D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin were ranked the 56th and 69th out of 75 eligible players at guard. Getting consistent, average play at this position will allow the Chargers to be more efficient and turn the ball over less.

When an offensive line is strong at the guard position, they can eliminate immediate pressure up the middle. This means that Melvin Gordon will be able go an extra third or half yard before being contacted by a defender. Aging quarterbacks also benefit more. Rivers is comfortable moving forward in the pocket and evading edge rushers. However, when the pressure forces Rivers outside the pocket, he becomes less efficient and more turnover prone. While I believe Rivers is an underrated athlete, he’s not capable of producing like Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers outside the pocket.

2016 Evaluation – Defense

Despite their overall record of 5-11, the Chargers had one of the NFL’s underrated defenses. On the surface, that seems absurd. How can a defense be ranked 29th in points and 16th in yards be underrated? The Chargers finished tied for 4th in terms of creating turnovers with 28 on the season. The two defenses they tied with, were Arizona and Baltimore, two of the best defenses this season. What Arizona and Baltimore didn’t have to deal with was their offense being first in giveaways. Those put the defense in impossible positions. If the offense becomes marginally more protective of the football, the defense will improve.

Joey Bosa proved that he was well worth the wait after holding out to start the season (Courtesy of; Sporting News).

The Chargers have multiple players on defense that will no doubt allow them to improve next season. According to Pro Football Focus, the Chargers have the 5th and 6th best edge defenders in the NFL with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. While they play different positions, they often have similar responsibilities, thus, them being classified as edge defenders and not as a linebacker or lineman. These players, along with Brandon Mebane, make for a stout defensive front; however, it is not without flaw. Corey Liuget did not play well this year and has sadly been declining since 2014. Maybe he would play better in a limited role on defense, but the Chargers need to have a better every down on the interior.

 

In the back end, the Chargers have an emerging star in Casey Hayward. Hayward has been playing well for years, but ascended to another level this season by shadowing the opposition’s best receiver. When Hayward is playing at such a high level, Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers will be heavily targeted. Both players had to deal with injuries this season, which contributed to their decreased production. The Chargers need to make sure that they have adequate players that can produce in a relief role.

Divisional Analysis

If Anthony Lynn has learned anything in his coaching tenure, it’s that you have to build a team that can compete in their division. Thankfully, Lynn will have the 2nd most talented quarterback in the division entering 2017. The offense has to improve up front. What do the Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders all have in common? They all have at least one great pass rusher. We already talked about the need at guard for the Chargers. They can also upgrade the tackle position if an appropriate free agent or prospect makes sense.

Currently, there isn’t a tackle or guard that warrants selection in the top ten. Jahleel Addae will become a free agent at seasons end, so they could look at drafting Malik Hooker, the play making safety out of Ohio State. However, they could still select Cam Robinson if he is universally rising up draft boards late in April. It’s likely that they will use second day picks to address the offensive guard position. That could mean selecting Dan Feeney out of Indiana or the versatile Taylor Moton from Western Michigan who could play guard and tackle.

I don’t think the Los Angeles Chargers need to spend multiple picks on offensive weapons for Rivers. Both Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and Hunter Henry proved they can produce in this offense. With Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon returning from injuries, this team can be explosive in 2017. If this team can upgrade their offensive line and add depth on defense, they will be poised to rise up in the AFC West.

Post Season Prospects

The Los Angeles Chargers have some work to if they want to make a playoff push in 2017. There are key offensive and defensive metrics that can help predict postseason success. Here are the categories and where the Chargers stack up compared to the rest of the league.

As I’ve said in my previous evaluations, you don’t have to be elite in every statistic. But, a team can’t have a glaring hole and hope to compete in the playoffs. Every divisional winner this season was top 15 in two or more categories on each side of the ball. We already know the Chargers need to be better up front. Upgrade those positions and they will give up less sacks and allow them to have more prolonged drives. Thus, improving their time of possession as well.

The future of the Chargers defense is not as bleak as their overall rankings may suggests. I’ve talked at length in this series about how the points allowed statistic can be misleading. Yards allowed, 3rd down defense, and turnovers are all stats that the defense alone can control. In two of those areas, they are just outside the top 15 and top five in the third. If the offense can be more efficient, the defense will benefit tremendously.

2017 Predictions

Despite my positive outlook for the Chargers next season, I don’t think their record will improve much. First time head coaches rarely have immediate success. Not to mention, the transition to becoming the Los Angeles Chargers. While their weekly schedule isn’t set, their opponents are. Having to face the AFC and NFC East divisions does not bode well. Thankfully, the Chargers get the Brown and the Jaguars as their other non divisional games. I think the Chargers will finish 7-9 next season and last in the AFC West.

 

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