Houston Texans Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois – Round 2
Texans general manager Brian Gaine tried to fill the starting right tackle position with Seantrel Henderson last year, but Henderson quickly went out for year with an injury. Henderson was brought back, but the veteran journeyman has never played up to his great skill set going back to his college career in Miami after being the No. 1 recruit in the nation. Houston looked to the future by taking Scharping in the second round, as he could be the team’s long-term starter at right tackle.

The 6-foot-5, 327-pound Scharping had a solid senior year highlighted by a nice tape going against Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns. Scharping has shorter arms, so he is a better fit at right tackle or guard in the NFL. He is a steady and tough offensive lineman who should develop into a solid starter if the Texans can coach him up to make the jump from Northern Illinois to the NFL.

2018: Martinas Rankin, OT
2017: Zach Cunningham, LB
2016: Nick Martin, C
2015: Bernardrick McKinney, LB
2014: Louis Nix, DT
2013: DeAndre Hopkins, WR

Most Likely To Bust

Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky – Round 2
Houston has a huge need at the cornerback position because Jonathan Joseph is on his last legs while Aaron Colvin is a free agent bust signing made by general manager Brian Gaine in 2018. Joseph doesn’t have the speed he used to, and Colvin was used and abused by opponents in his first year with Houston. The rest of the Texans’ cornerbacks are veteran journeymen, with only Bradley Roby having some athletic upside after being a bust in Denver. The Texans had to improve their cornerbacks, but they took a risk in the second round with Lonnie Johnsonas, who other teams had graded in the mid-rounds.

The Texans had a bad first night of the draft and followed it up with an ugly second night. They led it off with Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson, who has a good skill set with size and speed but never played up to it with the Wildcats. Johnson has a serious lack of instincts, and that caused teams to target him last year rather than teammates Derrick Baity or Chris Westry, who don’t have even close to the skill set that Johnson does. Other teams had Johnson graded a round or two later than where Houston took him. SEC teams illustrated that Johnson can be picked on, and the Texans took an athlete over a football player with that pick. Given the lack of talent at corner, Houston may not have the time to develop Johnson and could be forced to play him quickly. Johnson has real bust potential.

2018: Keke Coutee, WR
2017: Julie’n Davenport, OT
2016: Braxton Miller, WR
2015: Jaelen Strong, WR
2014: Xavier Su’a-Filo, G
2013: Sam Montgomery, DE

Potential Boom Pick

Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State – Round 1
A year ago, the Texans signed Zach Fulton, Senio Kelemete and Seantrel Henderson while drafting Martinas Rankin, yet their offensive line was once again a liability under head coach Bill O’Brien. Deshaun Watson was so battered and bruised during the 2018 season the team had to bus him to games to protect his injured ribs and lungs. Houston needed to find more help for its offensive line this offseason because the players general manager Brian Gaine acquired last year were disappointments. The Texans reached on Howard in the first round given that the entire league had him graded in the middle of Day 2, but there is no doubt that Howard has an excellent skill set with the potential to be a boom pick.

The 6-foot-5, 322-pound Howard drew positive reviews from area scouts all fall, and as a result, he was a consensus second- or third-round pick across the league. He had some struggles at the Senior Bowl against the better competition, but showed developmental potential and improvement. Howard is a really good athlete with excellent size, quality length, and a natural build. On top of a skill set, Howard gets high marks for character and work ethic.

Howard could develop into a good starting left tackle with the right team. Landing in Houston, however, is very worrisome for Howard to pan out because the Texans have some of the worst coaching in the NFL. Over Bill O’Brien’s five years, the Texans have not developed one good offensive lineman. Howard has boom pick potential given his skill set and character, and it will be interesting to see if he can be groomed into a good pro in Houston.

2018: Justin Reid, S
2017: Deshaun Watson, QB
2016: Will Fuller, WR
2015: Kevin Johnson, CB
2014: Jadeveon Clowney, DE
2013: D.J. Swearinger, S

Future Depth Player

Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State – Round 3
The Texans drafted two tight ends last year, so it was surprising they took another in the third round this year. Warring is a bit of a project, and it seems questionable to take on a project tight end after Houston drafted two tight ends last year in third-round pick Jordan Akins and late-rounder Jordan Thomas. Akins was a big disappointment in 2018 while Thomas played better than expected. Additionally, the Texans has veteran Darren Fells returning. Thus, I think Warring will be a backup and rotational tight end in the early going of his career. Perhaps he will end up being the starter over the other recent draft picks.

2018: Jordan Aikens, TE
2017: Carlos Watkins, DT
2016: Tyler Ervin, RB
2015: Reshard Cliet, LB
2014: Andre Hal, S
2013: David Quessenberry, OL

Panic move alert! Panic move alert! The Texans clearly wanted Andre Dillard, so I can understand why they’d panic a little bit, but this is unbelievable. Tytus Howard in the first round? He’s a third-round prospect! He would’ve been a reach in Round 2! I had Howard going 82nd in my 2019 NFL Mock Draft. You may have just heard Daniel Jeremiah say Howard was his 50th-ranked player, but I think that’s a tad too high. Couldn’t the Texans have traded down like the Seahawks and Ravens just did? Why not move down 8-12 spots and then select Howard? There’s absolutely no reason to take him at No. 23, when there’s a 100-percent chance he would be there at No. 33, and also No. 43!

54. Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky D+ Grade
It’s not a surprise that the Texans’ gutted front office continues to draft poorly, ignoring all sense of value. Lonnie Johnson is a great physical specimen, and he had a terrific pro day. However, Johnson’s tape at Kentucky was awful. He was frequently lost in coverage and appeared to lack any sort of awareness. I thought Johnson should go in the fourth round, so this is a reach, though it does potentially fill a need.

55. Max Scharping, G/OT, Northern Illinois C Grade
This is Houston’s best pick so far, and yet it earns only a “C” grade. Perhaps the franchise shouldn’t have fired all of their smart personnel people because Bill O’Brien wanted “yes men.” At any rate, Max Scharping was introduced as a tackle, but he’s going to have to move to guard in the NFL. He’ll get smoked if he plays tackle. Scharping could be a decent guard, but he’s a slight reach in the second round.

86. Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State B+ Grade
Kahale Warring started just five games at San Diego State because he played other sports. However, he’s extremely physically gifted and possesses unreal upside. The Texans will need to coach him up very well to develop him, but Warring has Pro Bowl potential down the road. Perhaps he’ll be able to develop into Houston’s first potent tight end since Owen Daniels.

161. Charles Omenihu, DE/DT, Texas B Grade
Charles Omenihu has immense potential to fill out his large frame (6-5, 280). He was highly productive in 2018, so we’ll see if that continues. The Texans needed another defensive lineman, and Omenihu makes sense at the range.

195. Xavier Crawford, CB, Central Michigan C Grade
This is a bit early for Xavier Crawford, who was a Round 7-UDFA prospect heading into the draft. Crawford lacks size and athleticism, and he’s not a very good tackler. I would be surprised if he made the 53-man roster.

220. Cullen Gillaspia, FB, Texas A&M-Commerce C Grade
Cullen Gullaspia was a team captain in school and figures to be a career special teamer in the NFL, if he actually happens to stick in the pros. This isn’t a very good pick, as Houston could’ve obtained someone with more upside.

Walt’s 2019 NFL Draft Grades:

2019 NFL Draft Team Grade: F . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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