Houston Texans: Running Backs, part 2

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We’ve discussed the options and possibilities for the Texans in the free agency, now let’s look at where that leaves the need for an RB in the draft. If the Texans can manage to get a jewel of a signing like Lamar Miller for a long term contract, then guess what? Top RB in the draft is no longer a huge need. It’s still worth considering, but it leaves open a lot of room to bulk up that O-line. I still would expect at least the first 2 rounds to go toward offensive players, but the Texans can look for more of a development player for the RB position than potential 2016 starter.

However, I realize that I’m living out some pipe dreams, and the Texans would more likely make a conservative, cap saving play in the free agency, so I still expect RB to be a top priority in the NFL draft. In reality, I would expect the 1st round pick to be a RB, as any attainable top prospect QBs in the draft are 2nd round stock. The good news for picking a RB in the first round is there is not a huge competition, as far as overall needs for 1-21 NFL teams in the draft are concerned. The bad news is that 1 of those teams has the #1 pick, is in our division, and knows what we need. If Tennessee’s smart, though, they’ll cover their top need wisely with the #1 pick.

That being said, Texans have a great shot at picking up a top-3 RB in the draft, and should go that route in the 1st round, if no substantial signings are made in the free agency. As done with discussing the top QB prospects of the draft, I’ll be utilizing the following list to discuss the pros and cons of each of the top 5 RB prospects in the 2016 Draft. Honestly, there’s really only 1 RB we need to look at if we go for a 1st round pick. If he’s off the board by #22 (or Texans don’t trade up to get him), then 1st round pick should be designated for something other than RB or QB. We’ll get to that later, though. On with the evaluations of the top 2016 RB prospects.

First on the block is Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is a star RB from Ohio State. There is no downside to choosing Elliott in the 1st round, if he’s still on the board at 22. He’s even worth a trade up. Elliott is largely considered the top RB to go in the 1st round primarily because of the Texans need to pick one up in the draft. If the Texans don’t to the route of giving up half their draft picks to get QB Carson Wentz, I’d expect Elliott to be the 1st pick for the Texans in the draft. He’s got the speed and versatility of an undrafted Foster, is quick on routes, and can pick up yards. He’d be a starter by mid-season. Folks, there is no downside to picking up Elliott. He’s the guy.

Second RB to look at is Derrick Henry. Henry’s a junior declaree from Alabama who’s a productive RB and disruptive in the passing game. He’s another possibility at #22, although that would possibly be upping his stock a little. Still, he’s not a bad consolation if the Texans lose out on Elliott. He’s not as versatile, but has the speed to break away with the ball. He’s also disruptive with blitzes, which will tremendously help a QB like Savage or a future rookie in the passing game. His downside, as mentioned above, is he lacks the versatility and playing background for a complex offense. However, he’s an overall worthy 1st round pick for the Texans RB needs.

And that’s that. No need to evaluate any further. Well, not really – crazy things happen in the draft, so we’ll look at a few more prospects.

Next up, which I’d consider in the third round or a trade up for an additional 2nd round pick, is Alex Collins. Collins is a reliable, hard runner from Arkansas. He’s a good, reliable RB, but lacks the speed and depth in an offense that would contribute to the rushing game, but likely place him behind Blue for a few years, if drafted. He’s not a 1st round pick, by any means, and lacking a real option in the 1st round for QB, that would open up the option to nail down an offensive tackle or guard pick in the 1st round. We’ll get to that later, though. Collins is a solid 3rd round pick, or possible trade-up option for another 2nd round pick.

Fourth on the list is Devontae Booker. Devontae Booker is coming off his 2nd year in college football from Utah. He’s also coming off a late season knee injury which required surgery to repair a meniscus tear. While he’s a versatile player with speed and physical toughness on the field, he’s too much of a gamble to place a heavy emphasis on in the draft. Texans will likely need an eventual 2016 starter, and he’s not it. He’s a possibility at round 3 or beyond with a Miller signing, so don’t completely count him out as an option. He won’t be the top focus going into the draft, though.

Last, we’ll deviate a bit from the linked list, and take a look at C.J. Prosise. Prosise hails from Notre Dame, is a versatile player in many aspects. He’d be a good pick in the 2nd day because he’s got great strength, speed, and also a background as a WR, and a strong contributor to special teams play. We may see him picked up even as late as the 4th, even if the Texans opt for a 1st round RB, because of this. Texans is lacking in ST, and a versatile player like Perkins would be a smart, healthy decision going into the 2nd or 3rd day, 3rd or 4th round. Look for him to be in the discussion, regardless.

My pick would be, of course, Ezekiel Elliott, but Henry’s no slouch if Elliott’s scooped up before #22. I’d also pick up Prosise in a later round. 2 bird, y’all.

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