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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Mark Lane

Texans’ 2019 draft class may have led to downfall of the Bill O’Brien era

The Bill O’Brien era may have gone downhill when the Houston Texans traded two first-round picks and a second-round selection as part of a compensation package to acquire Miami Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

The Texans’ top-100 selections were effectively gutted for the 2020 and 2021 drafts — all because O’Brien had influence over the five-man general managing council following the firing of Brian Gaine on June 7, 2019. Senior vice president of football administration Chris Olson may have been the interim general manager, but O’Brien was calling the shots.

However, the downfall of O’Brien’s era as coach may not have been the Tunsil trade. Rather, it may have been the 2019 NFL draft when Gaine was still in control.

According to Pete Prisco from CBS Sports, the Texans had a C-minus grade after that draft, but in a reassessment, Prisco gives them a D.

The Skinny: They had seven picks, but just one — first-round offensive tackle Tytus Howard — is a lock to start this year. Second-round corner Lonnie Johnson was traded to the Chiefs this year after playing both corner and safety for the Texans. Second-round round guard Max Scharping has started and will compete this year for a job.

Initially analysts declared the Texans reached for Howard after the Philadelphia Eagles grabbed tackle Andre Dillard the pick prior. Howard made the Pro Football Writers of America’s all-rookie team and has had a solid career since while Dillard has sailed into bust territory.

The Texans had four picks in the top-100 with back-to-back second-rounders in cornerback Lonnie Johnson and guard-tackle Max Scharping. Neither player manifest as a starter for the Texans.

However, that wasn’t the worst selection of the top-100 that year.

How I did: I thought third-round tight end Kahale Warring had a chance to be special, but he didn’t work out. I questioned taking Howard, and he’s been just OK. I liked the pick of Johnson, but he’s now gone.

Warring didn’t see the field until 2020, and he only caught three passes for 35 yards in his seven games with the Texans. Consider running backs Damien Harris, Alexander Mattison, and receiver Miles Boykin were all in the neighborhood of where Houston picked Warring.

The Texans’ other selections were fifth-round defensive end Charles Omenihu, who was traded last year, sixth-round cornerback Xavier Crawford, who was waived after over a month into his rookie season, and seventh-round fullback Cullen Gillaspia, who only played two seasons with the team.

With just one starter developing out of the 2019 class, the Texans didn’t have the homegrown talent to replace departing veterans. Adding general manager duties to O’Brien only doomed his tenure with the Texans.

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