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Texans Fail The 2023 NFL Draft Before The Clock Even Starts

So far, the Texans’ offseason has been a major success, with room for further optimism. Houston has hired an energizing young head coach in Demeco Ryans, ample cap space to work with, and an abundance of draft picks. However, for all their high hopes, one fatal error in the final week of the NFL season could cost the Texans the future of their franchise.

Ending The Season In Typical Texans Fashion

Heading into Week 18, the Texans had an enticing proposition: lose the game, and secure the coveted first overall pick in the NFL draft. Now, of course, no team should actively give up in games. Even in seemingly useless matchups, there are reasons to try, such as player development. However, what the Texans did against the Colts was not just them “trying.” It was an undeniable, valiant effort to win at all costs. An effort that was never put on display earlier in the year.

Perhaps the best example of this can be seen in the team’s decision to play disgruntled star receiver, Brandin Cooks. Midway through the year, Cooks demanded a trade, fed up with Houston’s lack of success. His request was not granted, though; he proceeded to hold out from the team before missing an extended time due to injury. For starters, it would have been wise to trade Cooks at that halfway point in the year, and GM Nick Caserio may feel the consequences of his inaction as Cooks’ trade value has certainly gone down since.

But even more inconceivable is the veteran wideout finding himself atop the depth chart in the season’s final week. Cooks did not want to be a part of the Texans; his future with the organization is clearly non-existent. So why let him have a career day (five catches, 106 yards, one touchdown) when future player development is the game’s primary goal, not winning? It makes no sense.

Another dumbfounding occurrence was head coach Lovie Smith coaching the game when he was fired just hours after it ended. Why give Smith, and the rest of the staff, the impression that they were coaching to save their jobs when they were going to be let go regardless of the outcome? Because this false hope is likely what inspired an aggressive play style from Smith and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton that had never been seen the entire season. An aggressive play style that resulted in a successful two-point conversion at the end of the game following a Hail Mary touchdown that single-handedly cost the Texans the first overall pick.

Caserio should have either fired Lovie Smith before the game if he was going to do it anyway and let another coach on staff have an opportunity to prove themself. Or at the least, stepped in and used his power to put a stop to the winning mindset displayed on the final drive. Unfortunately, neither of those things happened, and now the Texans have missed out on the only benefit of an awful season.

Is The Future Of The Texans Franchise Ruined?

By losing out on the first overall pick, the Texans have effectively given up their all-access pass to the quarterback of their future. If they fall in love with a prospect, there is no guarantee he will still be there at second overall. Especially now that the Panthers are quarterback-needy and have moved into the one spot. Furthermore, the hype for big names such as CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson only continues to grow. With superstar quarterbacks being essential to winning in the modern NFL, Houston cannot afford to miss out on “the guy” in this year’s class.

Could the Texans have traded or traded up for the top pick? Sure, Carolina seems open to moving back a few selections. However, it would be humiliating for Caserio to beg on his hands and knees, giving up a haul of other picks in the process when Houston could have easily landed the first pick themselves. The idea of trading up is so embarrassing it is better not to make a move.

In reality, the Texans aren’t screwed, as most teams have many prospects they wouldn’t mind selecting with their draft picks. However, this avoidable mistake proves that for all the hope this offseason has brought, the team still has several concerns, even from an operational standpoint, to address. In particular, Nick Caserio’s leash is growing shorter, and he must get the right guy second overall, or he may be next out the door.

 
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