Houston Texans, NFL Draft Retrospective

Houston Texans 2016 NFL Draft Retrospective

How does the Houston Texans 2016 NFL Draft class look three years later?

The Houston Texans of 2016 went into the NFL Draft in great need of a wide receiver, running back help and help on the offensive line, and that’s the direction the draft went that season.

Houston had five draft trades in 2016, including trading in the first round where they sent the No. 22 overall pick to the Washington Redskins for the No. 21 overall pick and their seventh-round pick. The Texans — who were 9-7 overall and AFC South champions — also traded wide receiver Keshawn Martin and a sixth-round pick (196) to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round pick.

Also in the draft, the Texans received a sixth-round pick (195) from the New York Jets for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. In that same draft, the Texans traded their seventh-round pick (243) to the Patriots for quarterback Ryan Mallett. Houston in the same draft received a second-round pick (No. 50) for a second-round pick (No. 52) and a sixth-round pick (195).

Original Grade

Sports Illustrated: B

In looking at Sports Illustrated draft grade from 2016, they maintain the wide receivers selected would make or break this draft, as the high grade of a B was given. Will Fuller was the standout pick of the first round, but there were questions whether he was better than those selected after him, which is still yet to be seen. Being so high on Braxton Miller, saying he could play a variety of spots on the offense, has proven not to have worked out that well, as he’s no longer on the team.

FanSided: B+

At the time, FanSided believed Nick Martin was the best pick of the draft, and after two seasons with the Texans, he hasn’t lived up to being a second-round choice, but he could still work his way there. This grade also questioned the selection of Will Fuller over Laquon Treadwell, and that comparison seems to favor Fuller and his overall play in his two seasons, even with his ACL injury last season. Fuller can become a star for the Texans, but he has to stay on the field to do so.

Draft Class

Round 1 (No. 21)

Will Fuller

WR, Notre Dame

Current Team: Houston Texans

This was an excellent pick made by the Texans if Fuller can stay healthy and on the field. When playing, Fuller is a big-time threat at wide receiver. Since joining the Texans, Fuller has had the following numbers: 31 games played, 107 receptions, 1,561 yards, 14.6 yards per reception and 13 touchdowns.

Last season, Fuller was starting to break out with the Texans, having 503 yards on 32 receptions (45 targets) with four touchdowns and averaging 15.7 yards per reception. However, he was injured in Week 7, tearing his ACL in a game where he had five receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.

The Texans and many other teams let Michael Thomas fall to the second round, where the New Orleans Saints drafted him 47th overall. In Fuller, though, the Texans have a player they can build their offense with and is an excellent complement to DeAndre Hopkins and a great target for Deshaun Watson. Considering the Texans traded up one spot to draft Fuller, they did very well with this pick, and as of right now Fuller is a threat when he’s not battling injuries.

Round 2 (No. 50)

Nick Martin

C, Notre Dame

Current Team: Houston Texans

The Texans were wanting to add to their offensive line with this pick, and starting in the middle and working their way out seems to be the plan with this franchise with the 50th overall pick being Nick Martin of Notre Dame. Martin was drafted as a guard but is now a center for the Texans, and he’s played in two seasons in the NFL, making 14 starts in 2017 and 16 starts last season. He missed the entire 2016 year with an ankle injury during the preseason that year.

In the second round, the Texans passed on center Cody Whitehair, whom the Chicago Bears selected 56th overall and was a member of the NFL All-Rookie team that season, plus he was a Pro Bowl selection in 2018. Martin was ranked as the 21st center in the NFL the past season by Pro Football Focus, with a lot more work needed on his run-blocking game to warrant being a second-round pick and a player the Texans can rely on in future seasons.

Round 3 (No. 85)

Braxton Miller

WR, Ohio State

Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles (Practice Squad)

Well, the Texans tried with this pick, as they believed they could turn a long-term collegiate quarterback with one year of wide receiver experience in the Big Ten into a viable receiver option in the NFL. This plan didn’t work, and Miller most recently was on the practice squad of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Later in the draft, players such as wide receiver Tyreek Hill (fifth round) and running back Jordan Howard (fifth round) were selected by the Chiefs and Bears, respectively. The Texans in this draft picked Miller at wide receiver and later went running back in the fourth round. In his time with the Texans (2016-17), Miller played in 21 games with nine starts, totaling 34 receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns.

Miller averaged 7.7 yards per receptions, and his longest catch was for 57 yards in ’17. This didn’t turn out to be the best of selections for the Texans, and to be honest, it was way too early in the draft to select a player whom everyone knew still needed a lot of work to do in his game.

Round 4 (No. 119)

Tyler Ervin

RB, San Diego State

 

Current Team: Baltimore Ravens (Practice Squad)

Here is another player who is no longer on the roster of the Texans as he was on the practice squad of the Baltimore Ravens last season. The Texans dropped the ball big-time here with Ervin because in parts of three seasons with the Texans, his numbers didn’t amount to much.

Ervin totaled 25 games in three seasons, having just five rushing attempts in those games. Ervin finished with 15 yards rushing and no touchdowns. He also had 14 receptions for 91 yards in those same games, catching no touchdowns. Some other notable players selected in the fourth round after the Texans made their choice were: Dak Prescott (135), Devontae Booker (136) and Kenneth Dixon (134).

Round 5 (No. 159) 

K.J. Dillon

S, West Virginia

 

Current Team: Free Agent

There isn’t much to say about K.J. Dillon except for the fact he played in five games with the Texans in 2016, made no starts and totaled two tackles in his time with the franchise. He had no interceptions or passes defensed.

That season, the Texans had Andre Hal (FS) and Quintin Demps (SS) at the safety position combine for eight interceptions. In the fifth round, players selected after Dillon included Tyreek Hill (165), Alex Collins (171) and Rashard Higgins, (172) all of whom have had more production in the NFL compared to Dillon.

Round 5 (No. 166)

D.J. Reader

DT, Clemson

Current Team: Houston Texans

This was a nice, productive pick by the Texans, especially compared to the three picks preceeding this one. Reader has played the past three seasons in a defensive line rotation of the Texans, where he’s played in 46 games, making 37 starts. This is exactly what Reader was drafted to do for the Texans, and he’s done a nice job in his role.

He’s totaled four sacks and 102 tackles (53 solo), plus 10 tackles for loss and 11 QB hits in his three seasons. Reader is coming off a season where he started in all 16 games (the first time in his career), totaling two sacks, 33 tackles (23 solo), five tackles for loss and three QB hits.

Retrospective Grade

The best overall pick for the Texans in this draft was Will Fuller in the first round, and the second-best pick could be D.J. Reader in the fifth round. Nick Martin has been OK for the Texans, but there is still a lot of improvement that needs to be made to live up to being a second-round choice, and the rest of the players drafted are no longer on the roster.

The selection of Braxton Miller was one of the worst picks in that entire draft, as Miller never lived up to even being remotely close to being a Day 2 pick in his time in Houston, totaling 34 receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns in his two seasons with the team before being released in 2018.

Considering everything with the 2016 NFL Draft, the Texans made some solid choices (Fuller, Reader), and choices that weren’t great in drafting Miller in the third round. The Texans have three players who are still starters on the team out of the six players selected, so one can’t be too angry or disappointed from this draft. Fuller has the abilities to be a star in the NFL, but he needs to stay healthy, and for Martin, this 2019 season will be a make-or-break year for him.

Reader works perfect in the defensive line of the Texans and being a fifth-round pick, the Texans gained a valuable selection that late in the draft.

by Stephen Forsha

Stephen is the sports editor for a newspaper in Ohio, contributor for NFL SpinZone of FanSided. He graduated from Wilmington College (2006) with a bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism.

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