A lot of instant reactions for an event that doesn’t lend itself to instant reactions.
Draft grades, much like power rankings, are ultimately meaningless. They’re arbitrarily given at a point way too early to make a good determination as to whether a team had a successful draft or not because not one of these players has yet proven to be an NFL-caliber talent.
Still, it’s hard to resist the siren song of reading whether Mel Kiper Jr. and his hair, Sports Illustrated, Pro Football Focus and all their respective talking heads (and hair) thought your favorite team did a good job (whatever that entails) in a given draft year.
I am no exception and I literally just said draft grades are meaningless.
So to save you a bunch of time and hassle, we’ve done a quick whiparound to find out what various sites around the internet thought about the Texans’ draft.
For the record, these results have not been cherry picked to show any kind of bias. The only bias shown here is my bias toward what will help me finish writing this post faster.
Pro Football Network (by Ryan Gosling; no, not that one):
Overall Grade: B+
Another team that will enter the 2023 QB1 sweepstakes, the Houston Texans addressed other needs. They banked on the upside of Derek Stingley Jr. with the third overall pick and added Kenyon Green at pick 15. Round 2 saw them drafting Jalen Pitre, a Swiss army knife who’s comfortable playing anywhere. They also added wide receiver John Metchie III, a super underrated but productive pass catcher out of Alabama. Metchie’s teammate, Christian Harris, was their third-round pick, and Houston added a powerful runner in Dameon Pierce. Thomas Booker, Teagan Quitoriano, and Austin Deculus don’t move the meter much, but they didn’t reach to get them.
Sports Illustrated (by Conor Orr)
Overall Grade: B
The Texans are turning the corner on their rebuild, from chaotic Game of Thrones-esque power struggle to not-so-subtle tank job, to, now utilizing some of those assets to formulate the basis of whatever Nick Caserio’s long-term vision might be. Stingley is incredibly talented, a cornerback who has the tools to be among the league’s best. And fast. It’s curious that the knock on him was that his play slid after the 2019 LSU championship season, and not that his coaching staff did the same, ultimately leading to Ed Orgeron’s ouster and the hiring of Brian Kelly. The Texans mined the Belichick-Alabama pipeline frequently in this draft and, despite missing out on the initial run of wide receivers, managed to find a functional pass catcher in John Metchie III, who will provide Davis Mills with the kind of playmaker who can turn horizontal throws into significant gains. For a team that was depending an awful lot on 28-year-old Brandin Cooks, the Texans have a chance to look a little less adrift offensively now, forcing defenses to respect both their deep speed and intermediate speed.
Sporting News (by Vinnie Iyer)
Overall Grade: A-
The Texans nailed their first five picks, even if the players in some cases (starting with Stingley and Green) may not have been the true best available at their positions. Interior blocking and more big-play receivers were addressed offense, as was front-seven cleanup on defense. The only question marks for Nick Caserio were not tapping into offensive tackle earlier and edge rusher at all.
CBS Sports (by Pete Prisco; I know, I know ::eyes roll::)
Overall Grade: B+
Best Pick: The pick of safety Jalen Pitre in the second round will pay off in a big way. He will be a star. He’s a lot like Tyrann Mathieu. Think Honey Badger 2.0.
Worst Pick: Trading up to take receiver John Metchie in the second round was aggressive for a player coming off an ACL injury, who isn’t as explosive as teammate Jameson Williams.
The Skinny: I liked a lot of what they did. First-round corner Derek Stingley Jr. will be a shut-down player, while offensive lineman Kenyon Green is a nasty mauler who will help up front. I love Pitre and fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce
The Athletic (by Sheil Kapadia)
Overall Grade: B+
There’s a lot to like here. I completely understand taking a swing on Stingley at No. 3. He has elite cover skills and plays a premium position. There’s real upside there. The Texans traded back before taking Green. That pick felt like a bit of a reach, but Green is young (will play his rookie season at 21 years old) and versatile (made starts at four different positions in college).
Trading up for Metchie seemed too aggressive. The Texans gave up the equivalent of the 56th overall pick in that deal, according to one trade chart. Metchie is a fine prospect, but the Texans have holes all over their roster and didn’t need to give up two additional fourth-round picks to land him.
Pitre is a really fun player. Harris has upside to develop into a plus starter. And Pierce runs with violence. Overall, the Texans made nine picks. For the most part, I like what they did (I know, I’m as surprised as you are).
NFL.com (by Chad Reuter)
Overall Grade: B
Day 1 grade: B
Day 2 grade: B-
Day 3 grade: B
Analysis: The Texans selected a few guys who could be great with their first three picks: a potential playmaking corner (Stingley), a powerful guard/tackle (Green) and a competitive, versatile defensive back (Pitre). Metchie and Harris also could become solid starters if they’re able to consistently secure passes and find the ball on defense, respectively.
Pierce will compete for every yard. Booker’s a smart, active interior player. Quitoriano meets the team’s need for a well-rounded tight end. The Texans should sign multiple undrafted free-agent edge rushers to bolster that group since they failed to select one.
Pro Football Focus (no byline)
Overall Grade: B+
Day 1: Stingley’s draft stock ended up coming full circle, with him coming off the board as a top-five pick and CB1 here for Houston. He was never able to build on a dominant true freshman season with LSU in 2019 when he allowed a 51.4 passer rating into his coverage with 21 combined pass breakups and interceptions. But that talent didn’t go anywhere. Stingley brings rare movement skills and athleticism and can play in any scheme. He’ll be a building block in Houston as Nick Caserio & Co. overhaul the roster.
Green was a little bit of a reach based on the PFF big board (39th overall), but it’s not difficult to see why the Texans would value him here. Green played every position except center for Texas A&M in 2021 and will probably slot in early at guard for Houston. Despite all that moving around, Green still earned PFF grades north of 75.0 in each of the last two seasons, and he should only continue to improve.
Day 2: Pitre doesn’t have the cleanest positional projection to the NFL as a safety who played primarily in the slot at Baylor, but he’s going to make Houston’s defense better. Pitre can play some nickel, safety and dime linebacker for a defense that has needs across the board, and he’s going to consistently find himself around the football in coverage and in the run game. Pitre’s 92.7 PFF run-defense grade ranked first among all defensive backs in the FBS last season.
Considering the Texans traded up for Metchie, who is coming off an ACL injury and has a questionable ceiling, this is a below-average pick for Houston. An injury of this magnitude is a concern for a player with questions about his full potential and physical profile. On a more positive note, the 5-foot-11, 187-pounder is a technician. He’s a sound route-runner who consistently got open against stiff competition in the SEC. In fact, Metchie led the conference in targets against single coverage with a step or more of separation over the past two seasons.
Christian Harris is a player with a lot of starting experience in college who never quite developed and improved the way he was expected to. Harris is an outstanding athlete but has never had a PFF coverage grade above 52.0 in a defense with NFL concepts and NFL-caliber coaching. He may have a limited role, but he can be useful in that role.
Day 3: The story for the Houston Texans in this draft was building the team from the ground up at every position. They continued to do so by adding Florida running back Dameon Pierce. Last season, the Gator earned a 92.0 PFF grade after amassing 574 yards on 100 attempts. Pierce will likely back up veteran Rex Burkhead and eventually take over the team’s backfield.
ESPN.com (by Mel Kiper Jr. and his hair)
Overall Grade: B
If anyone told you they knew what the Texans were going to do in this draft, they weren’t telling the truth. The organization was extremely tight-lipped throughout the process, with two first-round picks — Nos. 3 and 13 — that could create some chaos on the board. They could have gone after several different positions with those picks, but I said all along they should take the best prospect on the board, regardless of position.
We do have to take into account Houston getting three first-round picks (2022, 2023 and 2024) and future third- and fourth-rounders in the trade of Deshaun Watson. The quarterback didn’t want to be there, and so the Texans did the best they could in a bad situation.
So how did they fare? Let’s run through their class, starting with cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (3). He is a great talent, but that’s a little high on my board. I do think he can get back to his 2019 form, though. After that, the Texans traded down to spots, picking up an extra fourth-round pick and two more fifth-rounders. They took Kenyon Green (15), my second-ranked guard. He’ll start from Day 1, even if this isn’t the most alluring pick for fans.
Safety Jalen Pitre (37), wide receiver John Metchie III (44) and linebacker Christian Harris (75) were all good value picks, and Metchie, in particular, could be a steal as a slot target for quarterback Davis Mills. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Dameon Pierce (107) became Houston’s lead running back by 2023.
This team has a long ways to go to compete for the AFC South title again, but there are some foundational prospects in this class.
Overall, some surprisingly positive reactions. But none of that matters until all nine of these players start their almost-certain Hall of Fame careers later this summer.