With the 2020 NFL Draft just one week away, Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien held a press conference for media via Zoom. O'Brien answered questions from his back patio for about 53 minutes, covering everything from the DeAndre Hopkins trade to draft needs to COVID-19 concerns heading into the 2020 season.
Here are just some of the notes and quotes from Thursday's presser:
-O'Brien by wishing everyone well during this time of social distancing. He began by thanking first responders and medical staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.
"I think the biggest thing I want to do – especially as it relates to my family – is to thank the doctors, the nurses, the respiratory therapists, the first responders, the researchers throughout Houston and actually throughout our entire country who are caring for people with the virus and working tirelessly to try to develop a vaccine, develop testing, treatments. It just hits home to our family, especially with our experience here with the great medical institutions in Houston – Texas Children's, (Houston) Methodist – that we're so fond of and that we deal with quite a bit related to my oldest son."
-O'Brien did say that he does not know of anyone in the Texans organization diagnosed with COVID-19.
-Although the roster is incomplete until the team drafts next week, O'Brien said he's excited about the where it is right now after signing new players in free agency.
"I'd say this year we moved the furthest that we've been in the Deshaun Watson era, and we have more Pro Bowls on our team, we have more guys that have played in Super Bowls on our team. We're in a good position relative to where we're at during this time of the year."
-Running back David Johnson impressed O'Brien on film and in person. O'Brien also said that Johnson also passed his physical with "flying colors" on Wednesday.
"I think when you look at David Johnson, he's a three-down back who's had some really productive years. Plus the type of guy he is, just been on the phone with him a few times, having met him face to face when he was coming out in the draft, I just am so excited about having him, Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks in this locker room."
- In his intro, O'Brien addressed the other part of the Johnson trade, which involved sending DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona.
"I'd say with three years left on his contract, his representatives, himself, myself and our team of people, we spoke and we felt like relative to what I said earlier – salary cap, future, our team, being able to provide our team with more and more role players, layers of players – it was in the best interest of our team to move DeAndre to Arizona."
-O'Brien said Hopkins isn't a player that a team replaces, but he was excited about the wide receiver group with Will Fuller V, Kenny Stills, and others plus, addition of Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb.
-O'Brien likes Cooks for his route running, speed and deep ball skills.
"If you look at his yards per catch over the years, it's really high. You're talking about in the 14 to 15 range. I've been asked about concussions. Yes, he's had concussions, but he's only missed two games since 2015. All of that was taken into account when we worked with Sean McVay on the trade."
-Deshaun Watson has been in contact with the players new to the team, according to O'Brien.
-The Texans are excited about this year's secondary, which includes cornerback Bradley Roby, whose versatility includes "the ability to play outside, play inside, to play a lot different positions, play man-to-man, play zone."
-O'Brien addressed the team's biggest needs heading into the draft.
-The Texans will hold their virtual offseason program between April 27 and May 15. The team will use Zoom, the popular conferencing app, and Discord, which allows coaches to show film.
-O'Brien said that head strength and conditioning coach Mike Eubanks and Ladd Harris, director of performance nutrition, have been communicating with players on a daily basis.
"But it is hard because they don't have the field and they don't have the weight room. Again, it goes back to my point about this being a veteran year. A majority of your guys are going to have really understand what it's going to take to be in shape when they do tell us we can play."
-O'Brien weighed in on the possibility of playing football in empty stadiums in the fall, saying he wasn't in a rush to move forward.
"I just think that it's important that before we – in my opinion, just my opinion, before we let people back into stadium and things like that, we better have the testing down, we better be on our way to a vaccine. I don't think you're going to be able to move forward until we have a better grasp of the whole thing."
-O'Brien said he liked the class of rookie wide receivers, but that a lack of on-field work during the offseason might make for a slower learning curve.
"Even with a full rookie minicamp, training camp, the whole thing, it's very difficult for rookie wide receivers to play. It's a whole different ballgame. Press coverage, different coverages, different types of corners that you have to learn to play against. There are a lot of good receivers that have been productive in college and we'll see how it goes."
-Next week, the NFL will hold a virtual mock draft for teams in preparation for the actual draft Thursday through Saturday.