Breaking down the Houston Texans’ 2019 draft class.
Round 1, No. 23 overall: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
My take: Taking a tackle was absolutely the right move for the Texans, who had made it a priority to find someone who can protect franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson after he was sacked an NFL-high 62 times last season and faced a 41 percent pressure rate. Howard is athletic, with a lot of potential, but it remains to be seen whether he will make an immediate impact on the offensive line. The Texans already have a right tackle in Seantrel Henderson but clearly hope Howard can be a difference-maker right away. The last — and only — time the Texans have taken an offensive lineman in the first round was when they selected tackle Duane Brown in 2008, and Houston hopes Howard can follow a similar path as the former All-Pro lineman.
Another versatile lineman: Howard said the Texans believe he can play at both tackle positions and guard. Texans coach Bill O’Brien and general manager Brian Gaine often talk about how important versatility is to them when they build a roster, especially when they think about the offensive line for game day. Howard started all 11 games at left tackle in 2017, but in 2018 moved back to right tackle — where he played in his first two seasons — and earned first-team All-SWAC honors.
Packing on the pounds: Howard has gained nearly 100 pounds since high school. He was a high school quarterback and was a walk-on tight end who redshirted in 2014. Howard credited his weight gain in part to his fiancée’s cooking, noting he particularly likes her homemade chicken spaghetti. Howard was measured at 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds at the combine.
What’s next: The Texans have back-to-back picks in the second round (No. 54 and 55) and one pick in the third round (No. 86 pick). After taking Howard in the first round, Houston could look to fill holes at cornerback and safety, as well as find some depth at receiver.
Lonnie Johnson Jr. is a big press/zone corner out of Kentucky with above-average length and average top-end speed.
Round 2, No. 54 overall: Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky
My take: With Johnson’s selection, the Texans added some much-needed depth to their secondary after the team ranked 28th in pass defense a year ago. Johnson has the height (6-foot-2), weight (213 pounds) and speed that general manager Brian Gaine likes and he will join a group that lost cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and 2015 first-round pick Kevin Johnson this offseason. Lonnie Johnson will compete with Bradley Roby for the chance to start alongside Johnathan Joseph.
Johnson spent three years in junior college before playing two seasons at Kentucky. In 26 career games, including 18 starts, Johnson had 64 tackles, 12 pass breakups, one interception and two blocked kicks.
Northern Illinois offensive tackle Max Scharping has the frame, lateral quickness and balance to succeed in a zone-heavy scheme.
Round 2, No. 55: Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois
My take: By taking Scharping in the second round, the Texans continue to add talent on the offensive line after Watson was hit hard last season. The addition of Scharping gives head coach Bill O’Brien another versatile offensive lineman. The 6-foot-6, 327-pound offensive lineman played right tackle and right guard during his first two seasons before moving to left tackle. Scharping redshirted his freshman year at Northern Illinois before starting 53-straight games and playing all 998 offensive snaps in 2018. This is the first time the Texans have taken two offensive linemen in the first two rounds, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
What’s next: The Texans have a third-round pick and could use it to continue to shore up their secondary with another cornerback or a safety after they lost key pieces this offseason. Houston could also take their first skill position player of the draft. The Texans have a need for some depth at wide receiver because No. 2 receiver Will Fuller is coming off a torn ACL and second-year slot receiver Keke Coutee missed the majority of his rookie season due to hamstring injuries. Houston could also look for a running back to back up Lamar Miller as 2017 third-round pick D’Onta Foreman missed most of his second season while rehabbing a torn Achilles.