With the 16th pick in the 2015 Arrowhead Pride mock draft, Houston Texans GM Rhody Chief selects...
It's nice to be back in the GM chair for the Houston Texans after missing out on last year's draft. In 2012 I went all in on getting Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson some much needed help on the outside and selected Stephen Hill with the 26th pick. Yeah ... the less said about that the better. The real Texans instead went with Whitney Mercilus, so let's just say we both missed on that one.
In 2013 I still thought Matt Schaub could be "the guy" for Houston before he completely fell of the cliff that season and thought Tyler Eifert at 27 would be a perfect fit for their offense. While they didn't go the way of the TE they did get a receiver, taking DeAndre Hopkins who in two seasons already looks like he's going to be a stud. A+ grade on that one Rick Smith.
So that brings us to 2015 with the Texans sitting smack dab in the middle of the first ound and in a bit of a weird spot. The most obvious need for Houston is QB, but Winston and Mariota are long gone and there's no one else worth close to a first round selection this year. Instead, they'll have to go through one of the saddest QB "competitions" in recent memory, with Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage competing to see which QB is the least offensive in training camp and preseason. Barring an injury I'd be very surprised to see anyone but Hoyer starting for the Texans this season.
Pass-rusher is also a need as Brooks Reed is gone and Whitney Mercilus hasn't shown anything that would lead you to think that he can be a quality starter in the NFL yet. At this point in the draft Beasley, Fowler, Ray and Gregory are all gone and the only player left who might be worth taking this high is Bud Dupree, but as of now I don't think he's a significant upgrade over Mercilus. I think this is a spot they'll look at in the later rounds.
Which left me debating between receiver and cornerback. To the Texans try and find a legitimate outside receiver to pair with Hopkins or do they feel the additions of Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington are enough with the collection of unproven guys already on the roster? Do they look to find the replacement for Jonathan Joseph, who is 30 years old and entering the last year of his deal? Marcus Peters and Byron Jones are still there...
Then it hit me. The one player Houston needs is the one no one expects them to draft. It's so crazy, it just might work...
With the 16th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, The Houston Texans select...
Georgia RB Todd Gurley
I know some of you may be shaking your heads, but my logic behind this is simple: If the Houston Texans are going to play well on offense, it will because of the running game. Arian Foster is a great running back but he's only played in 21 games in the last two seasons. Injuries have started to crop up for him and as he nears 30 (currently 29) it's not expected to get any easier on his body. I also don't think Alfred Blue is anything more than an average backup RB. He's not close to being someone that would prevent me from drafting a stud player at the position. Teams will be keying in on the run and will make Hoyer prove that he can beat them through the air, which has been a struggle for him during his career.
Enter Todd Gurley. If he hadn't torn his ACL I believe he would be a no-doubt Top 10 pick. Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated brought up some gaudy stats in an article about Gurley:
"Were it not for the NCAA's outmoded regulations and one knee injury, Gurley may have put together a record-shattering season in 2014. He gained 911 yards, scored nine touchdowns and averaged 7.4 yards per carry in just six games last season. He never gained less than 131 yards in games where he was featured (there was a six-carry, 73-yard performance against Troy in which Gurley was pulled because the Bulldogs beat the Trojans 66-0). It was clear through the season that he was playing at a different level than most people on the field, and against SEC defenses, that's no mean feat."
Let's think about that for a second: 911 yards in SIX GAMES. For comparisons sake, only 14 running backs in the NFL had more yards than Gurley did last season.
Gurley is considered by many to be the best running back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson and has drawn a lot of comparisons to Marshawn Lynch. That's pretty lofty company, and let's not forget that Gurley also has the ability to return kicks (although I'd be surprised if he's used that way in the NFL.)
Most importantly, drafting Todd Gurley allows Houston to create a two-headed monster with Arian Foster. The Texans can cut back on the amount of carries Foster is given plus they can utilize him more in the passing game (227 receptions and 12 receiving TDs in his career.) This also allows them to ease Gurley back in and not immediately give him the full workload of a starting RB coming off of the ACL injury. I'd expect them to also be in the backfield together at times as well.
(Another thing to consider: Arian Foster has only two years left on his deal, including a $9.5M cap hit on 2016 and only $2.5M in dead money. If Gurley shows he is 100% and plays extremely well his rookie year and Foster starts to decline the Texans can save $7M and use that money to strengthen another position in 2016.)
The player this may benefit the most is Brian Hoyer. With a dynamic running game to carry the offense Hoyer should be able to operate in a game-manager role, which is optimal for him. He's very rarely going to win you games, so having Gurley and Foster to keep defenses honest will allow Hoyer to progress through his reads and take advantage of weaker secondaries. Don't worry, I'm sure we'll still see a bunch of YOLO balls thrown to DeAndre Hopkins during the season as well.
So Houston, when you hand in your on April 30th to be read by Roger Goodell, don't settle on taking a player just to fill a perceived hole at one position or another. Take a player that can completely change the way your offense operates and give teams a reason to fear you next season. Take Todd Gurley and prosper.
Mock draft order
16. Texans - RB Todd Gurley