HOUSTON – The Houston Texans took a nosedive in 2017 with a 4-12 season. Here's a look a what they need to do in the 2018 NFL Draft to improve:
Texans won AFC South in past two seasons before failing to make postseason in 2017 as they dealt with numerous injuries, including to rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and superstar defensive end J.J. Watt.
Best news of dreadful season was play of Watson in seven games before he tore anterior cruciate ligament in right knee in practice. He threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns, giving Texans hope they've finally found franchise quarterback after years of misfires and disappointment.
Another bright spot was continued improvement of 2014 top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Defensive end finished second in NFL with career-high 21 tackles for losses and his 9 1/2 sacks, 21 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles were also career bests. He had career-high 59 tackles and started all 16 games for first time in career after struggling with injuries in first two NFL seasons before playing 14 games in 2016.
LT, RT, TE.
THEY DON'T NEED:
QB, WR, DE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK:
T Jamarco Jones, Ohio State; T Tyrell Crosby, Oregon; TE Durham Smythe, Notre Dame.
Texans desperately need to upgrade offensive line to better protect Watson after trading franchise left tackle Duane Brown to Seattle last season. But it will be tough in draft because they don't have pick until third round.
Houston sent first-round pick in this year's draft to Cleveland last year to trade up to get Watson, and previously shipped second-round pick in 2018 to Browns as part of deal to get rid of Brock Osweiler. That leaves new general manager Brian Gaine, taking over after Rick Smith took leave of absence to care for ailing wife, with eight picks in Rounds 3-7 to try and find some pieces to upgrade team looking to bounce back after last year's nosedive.