The Houston Texans chose offensive tackle Tytus Howard with the 23rd overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, hoping he can help protect banged-up quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson was sacked an NFL-leading 62 times as Houston won the AFC South but lost to the Colts in the wild-card round. Watson played every game in his second year after having season-ending knee surgery as a rookie but was hurt for a chunk of the season while dealing with a partially collapsed lung and broken ribs from taking hit after hit.
It was the just the second time Houston had selected an offensive lineman in the first round. The last was left tackle Duane Brown with the 26th pick in 2008.
Howard, who played at Alabama State, was a quarterback in high school before growing into his 6-foot-5, 322-pound frame. He has the versatility the Texans were looking for after starting at both right and left tackle in college. He was named to the SWAC All-Conference team last season after starting 10 games at right tackle.
The Texans had three picks in the first two rounds. They come a year after they didn't have any picks in the first or second rounds because they shipped their top two picks to get rid of Brock Osweiler and trade up to get Watson in 2017.
Howard can't wait to begin working with Watson, who was the 12th pick in the 2017 draft.
"I feel like with my athleticism I'll be able to protect him longer since he's more mobile and moves around a lot more," Howard said. "I feel like me and him are going to build a great relationship while I'm there and help win some games for the Houston Texans."
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