HOUSTON -- While the Houston Texans didn’t make a trade into the first round on Thursday night, the team enters Day 2 of the NFL draft with three third-round picks and the chance to fill several holes.
After making a trade and receiving a compensatory pick for losing cornerback A.J. Bouye, the Texans have picks Nos. 68, 80 and 98 overall. Houston could package two or all three of those picks to trade into the second round. But general manager Brian Gaine has said historically he prefers to trade down to add more picks rather than trading up.
In his pre-draft news conference, Gaine said he believed the moves the Texans made in free agency on the offensive line and in the secondary allowed the team the flexibility to draft the best player available instead of for need.
The Texans’ biggest need, of course, is left tackle, as they addressed other holes on the line by adding guards Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton and tackle Seantrel Henderson but missed out on left tackle Nate Solder, who signed a contract with the Giants worth $15.5 million per year. Head coach Bill O’Brien has said the team planned to give last year’s fourth-round pick, Julién Davenport, a chance to win the starting left tackle job, but if a tackle the Texans think would be a good fit falls to the third round -- or far enough into the second where the team could move up -- this would be a good spot to take an offensive tackle.
On Thursday night, three tackles were picked: Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey, UCLA’s Kolton Miller and Georgia's Isaiah Wynn. The Texans could look at Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown, Ohio State tackle Jamarco Jones or West Georgia tackle Desmond Harrison.
And while the Texans have a starting quarterback -- they are hoping to have solved that need for a long time by trading up last year to draft Deshaun Watson -- Gaine made it clear that the Texans “are always developing the position.”
“Year in, year out, you are always contingency planning,” Gaine said. “Whether you have a starter, a No. 2 or a No. 3, you’re doing it at every position but especially quarterback -- you are always contingency planning and always planning for the future. So, regardless of who we have here today, we are always planning for tomorrow.”
Finally, if the Texans do keep all of their third-round picks, they could look for a cornerback. The Texans added Aaron Colvin in free agency and re-signed Johnathan Joseph. The two will play alongside veteran Kareem Jackson and 2015 first-round pick Kevin Johnson.
Three cornerbacks went off the board in the first round: Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, Louisville's Jaire Alexander and UCF's Mike Hughes. In the third round, the Texans could look for Alabama’s Anthony Averett, Auburn’s Carlton Davis or Texas’ Holton Hill.
While the Texans are without a first- or second-round pick this year, Gaine said he’s still confident he’ll be able to add “contributing players at any one of those picks in the third and the fourth round."
“There are certainly challenges involved with that in terms of getting blue-chip talent and blue-chip prospects," Gaine said, "but the focus that I have had and our staff has had here has been we are going to get a chance to get four players in the top 103 in this draft."