the 2022 NFL Draft is only a few weeks away, and the excitement is palpable around NFL media and apps. Every year the Draft is a fan favorite receiving almost as many audience only great games during the season. Why? Because the NFL Draft is awesome. Whether it’s tear-soaked phone calls or family cuddle parties in the green room, the draft always carries feelings of hope, change and optimism.
The Houston Texans have been involved in 20 years of draft picks, with a total of 155 player selections during that time. As every fan knows, teams don’t succeed on every pick – some players are busts, others become legends. Even though the Texans are a young franchise, the team has already produced a few “legends” of the game.
Here are the Houston Texans’ all-time best draft picks by round (in reverse order, with honorable mentions):
Round 7: Derek Newton (OT, Arkansas State)
Finding team “legends” that were drafted in the final rounds of the draft is a challenge. Tackle Derek Newton doesn’t fit the ‘legend’ moniker, but he was a solid starter for the Texans for five seasons; not bad for selection n°214 of the repechage.
Honorable Mentions: Andre Hal (DB, Vanderbilt)
6th round: Christian Covington (DT, Rice)
Round 6 hasn’t been a historically good round for the Texans, but there have been a few productive players in the penultimate round of the draft over the years. Covington was selected out of Rice University’s hometown in 2015 and spent all four years of his rookie contract doing solid comedy videos and contribute inside the defensive line. After his time in Houston, Covington played on several playoff teams, giving solid minutes to Dallas, Cincinnati and the LA Chargers.
Honorable Mentions: David Quessenberry, Roy Lopez
Round 5: DJ Reader (DT, Clemson)
DJ Reader flew under the radar in the 2016 draft and continued to do so (outside the city of Houston) in his early years in the NFL as well. Despite his anonymity, Reader has posted stellar numbers and ratings year after year. Reader didn’t miss the eyes of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020 when they signed him to a 4-year, $53 million deal to play on their D line instead. It’s always sad to see former Texas players pick up bags in the Super Bowl. Keep after them, DJ
Honorable Mention: Randy “Beer Can” Bullock
Round 4: Owen Daniels (TE, Wis.)
Before Deshaun Watson, the Texans were full-time passengers on the QB Carousel. Before thatthe Texans had a “star” quarterback named Matt Schaub. Apart from Andre Johnson, Schaub’s favorite target was a certain Owen Daniels. Daniels is the only tight end in franchise history to appear in the Pro Bowl and is third all-time for the Texans (regardless of position) in receiving yards (4,617). Daniels also followed former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak to the Denver Broncos, where he helped the team win Super Bowl 50.
Honorable mentions: Glover Quin (S, New Mexico), Ben Jones (OC/G, Georgia)
3rd round: Eric Winston (OT, Miami)
Believe it or not, a few years ago (a long time ago) the Texans enjoyed continuity and success on their offensive line. Eric Winston was a mainstay at the right tackle position on this “gelled” unit for years. Winston’s life after his playing days also left a huge impact on the NFL as he spent 7 years as a president of the NFL Players Association.
Honorable mentions: Brandon Brooks (OG, Miami OH), Jacoby Jones (WR, Lane)
Round 2: DeMeco Ryans (LB, Alabama)
DeMeco Ryans was a Texan for six years of his career, and during that time he won two Pro Bowls and earned Defensive Rookie of the Year. In the NFL, a nickname often used for a team’s center linebacker is “defense quarterback”. Ryans took those on-field leadership skills and transferred them behind a clipboard when he became an NFL coach. In 2021, Ryans landed his first defensive coordinator job and helped his San Francisco 49ers reach Super Bowl 56.
Honorable mentions: Connor Barwin (EDGE, Cincinnati), Chester Pitts (OL, San Diego St.)
1st round: JJ Watt (Germany, Wisconsin)
It’s a great irony that the player probably considered the most important face of the franchise metaphor”Mount Rushmore” been strongly booed on draft night in 2011, when he was selected No. 11 overall by the Texans. After 10 years with the team that included more than 100 sacks, five Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections and three Defensive Player of the Year awards, those fans surely watch their boos with regret. Although Watt left Houston to pursue his career in Arizona, his actions on and off the court helped put the Texans on the map, and his impact on the city of Houston will last for years.
Honorable mentions: Andre Johnson (WR, Miami), DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson), Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
(Bonus Content) Undrafted Free Agents: Arian Foster (RB, Tennessee)
Any list of Texans Greats would be remiss not to include Arian Foster — the thing is, Foster was undrafted. Every year there is a mad scramble in the hours following the NFL Draft where teams call players who have been do not drafted and sign them for smaller offers to come and play. Foster fell in this mad scramble and emerged a Texan from Houston. After a career of two All-Pro selections, four Pro Bowls and more than 50 career touchdowns, Foster is widely considered a needed face on the aforementioned Mt. Rushmore Texans.
Honorable mentions: Vonta Leach (FB, East Carolina), Mike Brisiel (OG, Colorado State)
Who knows if the Texans will find any more names to add to this list in this year’s NFL Draft – only time will tell. But, with 11 picks symbolizing 11 possible new players, the “hope, change and optimism” meter must be off the cards for Steel Blue fans.