J.J. Watt headlines Texans' best-ever draft picks

J.J. Watt has 76 sacks in six seasons in Houston. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Houston Texans have selected 124 players in their 14-year history. Here’s a look at the best draft picks by position for the Texans:


Quarterback: David Carr, first round, 2002, Fresno State. Although Carr could be the Texans’ biggest draft bust, he is the best quarterback drafted by Houston. The quarterbacks drafted make up a short and unsuccessful list, including Dave Ragone, Drew Henson, Alex Brink and T.J. Yates. Starting quarterback Tom Savage has started only two games for Houston and has yet to prove himself, so the honor goes to Carr. In five seasons with the Texans, Carr completed 60 percent of his passes for 13,391 yards with 59 touchdowns and 65 interceptions. His tenure in Houston will be remembered mostly by his inability to stay on his feet. In his rookie season, Carr was sacked an NFL-record 76 times.

Running back: Ben Tate, second round, 2010, Auburn. We’re not including undrafted players in this list, which rules out the Texans’ all-time leading rusher, Arian Foster. Out of those drafted, Tate is the best of the bunch. After missing his rookie season with a broken ankle, he played three seasons for Houston and had 1,992 yards and 10 touchdowns on 421 carries. Current Texan Alfred Blue comes in a close second.

Wide receiver: Andre Johnson, first round, 2003, Miami. Johnson is the Texans’ all-time leading receiver with 1,012 catches for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns. Johnson, who retired in 2016 after a season in Indianapolis and another in Tennessee, could be a future Hall of Famer. If DeAndre Hopkins stays in Houston and can have more seasons like he did in 2015, he could one day surpass what Johnson did for the Texans.

Tight end: Owen Daniels, fourth round, 2006, Wisconsin. Daniels is by far the best tight end the Texans have ever drafted, playing in 100 games in Houston and catching 385 passes for 4,617 yards and 29 touchdowns. Daniels’ 29 touchdowns with the Texans are more than the seven other tight ends Houston has drafted combined.

Tackle: Duane Brown, first round, 2008, Virginia Tech. Brown is the Texans’ longest-tenured player and has anchored Houston’s offensive line at left tackle since he was drafted. Brown has been named to three Pro Bowls in nine years in Houston, and the Texans’ offensive line was notably better last season once he returned from injury.

Guard: Chester Pitts, second round, 2002, San Diego State. Pitts spent all but one of his 10 NFL seasons with Houston and played well for the team during a time when the team was perennially struggling. Pitts played in every regular-season game for the Texans in his first eight seasons.

Center: Ben Jones, fourth round, 2012, Georgia. The Texans have drafted only five centers in team history, and one was Nick Martin in the second round last season after they decided to let Jones leave in free agency. Although Jones was a center out of college, he initially backed up starter Chris Myers and spent time at right guard. In his final season in Houston, Jones started at center.


End: J.J. Watt, first round, 2011, Wisconsin. Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is already, at the age of 28, one of the best defensive players in league history. Watt has two seasons with 20.5 sacks and has 76 sacks total in six seasons, despite playing in only three games last year after injuring his back.

Tackle: D.J. Reader, fifth round, 2016, Clemson. This was a tough one to pick because there is not a standout defensive tackle that the Texans have drafted. I’m going to pick a player who impressed and outplayed his fifth-round selection last season in Reader. The 22-year-old really impressed the coaching staff in his rookie year and will replace Vince Wilfork as the full-time starter next season. Travis Johnson, the Texans’ 2005 first-round pick, did start for a while for Houston, but he was never a huge impact player and underperformed for how high he was picked.

Linebacker: Brian Cushing, first round, 2009, USC. This was perhaps the toughest position to pick the best in franchise history, having to choose between Cushing and DeMeco Ryans. Ryans was the 2006 season NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and made two Pro Bowl appearances during his time in Houston. Last season, Cushing passed Ryans for the franchise lead in tackles. Ryans played six seasons in Houston, while Cushing will play his ninth in 2017. The longevity with the franchise gets Cushing the nod.

Cornerback: Kareem Jackson, first round, 2010, Alabama. Jackson has been a starter in his seven seasons in Houston and has been able to stay relatively healthy. He has 13 career interceptions, three touchdowns and three forced fumbles in his 100 games for the Texans.

Safety: C.C. Brown, sixth round, 2005, Louisiana-Lafayette. Safety is another position in which there aren’t many options to choose from. Brown gets the nod over D.J. Swearinger, who was a second-round pick, but played only two seasons for the Texans before he was released. Brown started every game he played in for Houston after his rookie season and had three interceptions in 47 games.


Kicker: Randy Bullock, fifth round, 2012, Texas A&M. Bullock is the only kicker the Texans have ever drafted. In his four seasons in Houston, Bullock made 80.3 percent of his field goal attempts and 97.2 percent of his extra points. The Texans released Bullock in 2015 and signed current starting kicker Nick Novak.

Punter: The Texans have never drafted a punter.