Regardless of who comes out of the Houston Texans’ 2017 draft class, this group is a massive success because of what rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson accomplished before his season-ending torn ACL.
The group also has a couple of intriguing prospects who could develop into solid players who could help Watson in the future. Here’s a look at the Texans’ 2017 draft class:
Best rookie: Even though he played in only seven games before tearing the ACL in his right leg in an early November practice, Watson was the Texans’ standout rookie, by far. He was having one of the best ever seasons for a rookie quarterback — he threw for 1,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and added 269 yards and two scores on the ground — and was on pace to shatter the rookie record for passing touchdowns. Watson’s season was cut short, but he is expected to be healthy for the start of the 2018 season.
Most improved rookie: The Texans liked what they saw from running back D’Onta Foreman during their offseason program, but head coach Bill O’Brien noted that the second-round pick needed to get in better football condition. Foreman had an up-and-down Customized Houston Texans jerseys season and even had a game without a carry in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. But in the Week 11 game against the Cardinals when he tore his left Achilles, Foreman had his best performance of the season with 65 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. The former Texas standout was the backup running back behind Lamar Miller, but if he can pick up where he left off next season, Foreman could challenge Miller for the majority of the carries in 2018.
Most disappointing rookie: Defensive tackle Carlos Watkins got off to a slow start, according to O’Brien. In the Texans’ first five games, Watkins was inactive for three and did not play in a fourth. O’Brien said the fourth-round pick had a hard time early in the year because it took him a little while to get used to playing against bigger, stronger players in the NFL as opposed to the players he faced at Clemson. The head coach said he has seen Watkins improve throughout the season and that he thinks the defensive lineman is “going to be a good player.”
Jury is still out on …: Julién Davenport. With all the injuries on the offensive line, the Texans’ coaching staff has had a chance toward the end of the season to see what some of the younger linemen can do. Davenport started at left tackle in Week 16 and “held his own in there against some good competition,” according to O’Brien. Davenport was a fourth-round pick, but at the time of Customized Jerseys the draft, O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith acknowledged he would need a lot of development before he was a finished product in the NFL. Given that left tackle Chris Clark and right tackle Breno Giacomini are free agents, with a strong offseason and training camp, Davenport could compete for a starting tackle job next season.
Undrafted rookie evaluation: The best player in the Texans’ undrafted class was linebacker Dylan Cole. Houston liked him a lot coming out of the draft, and after Brian Cushing was suspended for 10 games, Cole got off to a good start before he injured his hamstring in Week 5. He has come back from the injury, and contributed on defense and special teams. O’Brien said he has also been impressed by how disruptive wide receiver Chris Thompson has been on special teams.