Say, what about that 2019 Class? How did they work out?
A key feature of any and all immediate post-draft analysis (to include this site) will be to issue a “grade” on the player drafted by a team. By immediate, that will mean an instant grade, within minutes of the pick, with a follow-up overall grade after Mr. Irrelevant is taken Saturday. This offers some immediate validation and a sense of what a team can expect with these players.
Yet, immediate evaluation is not the end-all/be-all for draft “grades”. It is seen as a rule of thumb that a draft class needs about 3 years to determine if it was effective or not. This will take into account if a player plays up to their billing, if they underperform or overperform, and if the team wants to re-sign that player. There can be some very significant deltas between the immediate grade and the 3-year review.
With that in mind, we will grade out the 2019 Houston Texans draft. Most will remember this as the last time that the Texans had a 1st rounder until this weekend. It was the last of the Brain Gaine drafts before he was sacked shortly afterwards, ushering in the, er, very-not-effective era of O’Brien/Easterby. For those that need a quick reminder of who the Texans drafted, here is what we have:
1st: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
2nd: Lonnie Johnson, Jr., CB, Kentucky
2nd: Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois
3rd: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
5th: Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas
6th: Xavier Crawford, CB, Central Michigan
7th: Cullen Gillaspia, FB, Texas A&M
When Sunday came around, the grade were in, and looking at the most expert of experts for the Texans draft, the grades varied from B- to D-, with the average polling out to a C- type grade. Most others had a mixed review of the class in question.
Many of the picks were for need. Coming into the draft, the two biggest areas of concern for the team were offensive line and the secondary. A draft of 7 picks, where you get 2 offensive linemen and 2 defensive backs, reflects that. In particular, the greatest attention focused on 1st rounder Tytus Howard. Given the importance of the tackle slot, and that the team had yet to find a serviceable replacement for Duane Brown after 2017, and that Deshaun Watson, the then-anointed franchise QB savior, really needed all the help he could get. Additionally, the Texans continued to field a weak secondary that any decent QB could attack at will.
How have those picks panned out?
Tytus Howard: Received some accolades as a rookie, especially as he found a home on the right side of the offensive line in 2019 after the Tunsil trade. However, the team continued to rotate Howard all along the line, as he played everything outside of center. Never mind that he plays best at tackle, the Texans seemed driven by a divine force to make him a guard. That did not work. Pending the results of the 2022 draft, Howard will likely remain a tackle. The team has not picked up his 5thyear option as of this writing. (Grade: C-)
Lonnie Johnson Jr: Came to the roster as a bit of a project, one that the previous regime hoped could grow into a CB. He never really got there. The team shifted him between corner and safety, allowing him to play some special teams as well. That the team still continues to look for secondary help reflects how well this picked worked out. Johnson Jr. is likely to remain on the roster for 2022, but after that, his fate is uncertain. (D-)
UPDATE: The Texans have traded Lonnie Johnson Jr. to the Chiefs for a conditional 7th round pick in 2024.
Max Scharping: Came over and the squad had visions of him manning one of the guard spots for the future. This also has not come to pass. Scharping’s development suffered during the COVID-induced shutdown of team training facilities, and he never caught up. It was considered a minor miracle that he remained on the roster after 2021. His future is very unclear. A 2022 regular season roster spot is far from a certainty. (F)
Kahale Warring: If only his on-field performance matched his potential, as well as the passionate feelings he inspired in one of our writers (ahem…). Injured for the majority of his tenure, when he finally did get on the field, his performance never, ever came close to meeting a sliver of the potential. A project that came to nothing and he is out of the league. Said writer does report some progress in therapy, but it is slow going. (F-)
Charles Omenihu: Injuries also plagued this draft pick. When he was on the field, he showed some promise of being a decent interior pass rusher. Yet, his promise could not amount to any degree of success. The Caserio regime gave him a chance, but instead decided to exile him to San Francisco for a 6th round draft pick. Didn’t make anyone in the Bay Area forget Bryant Young, but the Dallas Cowboys kinda wish that trade hadn’t happened (see their playoff loss to San Francisco). (D+)
Xavier Crawford: Didn’t last the season on the roster. Bounced around the league as a backup/special teams player. Currently receives pay slips from Jacksonville. (F)
Cullen Gillaspia: Mainly a special teams player. Best hair on the team and in the AFC South until the coming of Trevor Lawrence. Did make a critical block on the Taiwan Jones catch-and-run that help the Texans defeat the Bills in the Wild Card playoff game. Was on the New Jersey Giants for 2021, but currently unsigned. (D-)
Oh, and you can probably guess, but all of these players have the exact same number of Pro Bowls/All-Pro/etc type of awards as I do [spoiler alert: zero]
With all of this on the table, what sort of grade does the final Gaine draft class receive? You would be hard pressed to grade this any higher than a D-/F+, and even that might be a little too generous. The mismanagement of Howard along the Oline has not help him or the team. Johnson is practically a bust. Scharping’s bust status is confirmed. Omenihu might evolve with San Francisco. Otherwise, if you have no memory of the rest of the class, save the flowing locks of Gillaspia, you could be forgiven. I am not sure if their families even remember them.
As the 2022 Texans draft class evolves, one can hope, for their sakes and ours, that when we look back upon their work in 2025, they won’t remind any of us of the 2019 class.