I bumped into original Texans GM and current NFL Network Analyst Charlie Casserly here in Indy this week and thought about the amount of years the Texans organization has been represented at the NFL Scouting Combine. For the first time ever, the team's brass comes here without a first and second round pick...and it's a very different feeling.
The first round mystery 'buzz' isn't there. And that's because the pick has been 'in' for almost a year. It's Deshaun Watson, who the Texans took after trading up, giving away this year's number one in the process. And there's not a single person we've talked to who doesn't think it was a tremendous investment.
There are those national media members who caution that 'defenses might catch up with him' a bit. After all, they have an entire offseason to pour over the video of Watson's entertaining collection of starts. But no one is betting against the second year quarterback and everyone is eager to see the encore.
Just because there is no first or second round selection doesn't mean that the staff can take this week off and head to Cabo. There is plenty of work to be done as the team prepares for a class that will include eight picks, barring a trade. And those three third round selections must be used wisely to address some team needs.
Wait, did I say that? Don't you always go for best player available? Well, General Manager Brian Gaine told us on Texans Radio that it is the idea to go for the best talent but called the approach 'theoretical,' acknowledging that there are certain position groups that will garner more attention than others depending on when each pick arrives.
As Gaine oversees his first combine trip as GM, John Harris pointed out on the air how Bill O'Brien is now sort of the 'dean' of AFC South coaches. Yikes! It feels like we just welcomed him to Houston yet he's the longest tenured coach in the division. And make no mistake, all the other AFC South teams have retooled themselves to deal with the Texans reign of back to back titles in '15 and '16.
The national media consensus here is that if Andrew Luck gets healthy this might be the best overall division in the league. Luck, who GM Chris Ballard optimistically penciled in as 'ready' for opening day, changes the whole landscape. We've all seen up close what outstanding QB play means for a team. The Colts could be a big problem for the other three squads in 2018.
As far as getting Houston back to the top of the AFC South and beyond, it's crucial that the Texans have a fruitful free agency haul. There are a lot of teams with gargantuan amounts of cap room, so competition will be fierce and prices will be steep. But the Texans know that with their injured players getting better, a few key acquisitions and productive drafting can get them back to the top of the division.