Every year there are plenty of surprises that occur in the NFL Draft, and last night was no exception. Mock drafts were crumbled up by pick four, but there might be no bigger surprise than the Houston Texans selecting Tytus Howard.
The 2019 NFL Draft did not disappoint in terms of surprises. The Oakland Raiders kicked it off at the 4th overall pick, while the New York Giants saw that and said: “hold my beer.” Either one of those picks would be deserving of the biggest surprise. However, Clelin Ferrell was still projected to be a first rounder, and the Giants had been linked to Daniel Jones for weeks. Tytus Howard was on no one’s radar, but the Houston Texans felt he was worth it with the 23rd overall selection.
Howard started his football career as a quarterback in high school. Back then he measured at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. He was a walk-on at Alabama State as a tight end before finally being moved to tackle. He checked in at the Senior Bowl at 6-foot-5, 322 pounds. Quite the transformation in just a few years.
So how did a small school walk on end up getting drafted in the first round to the Houston Texans? Here is a quote from Texans general manager Brian Gaine on why he was sold on Howard, from chron.com:
We’re not worried that he didn’t play in a Power 5 conference. He excelled against Auburn, at the Senior Bowl, at the combine and in the private workout we had with him. We felt like he passed each scouting test with flying colors.
In the game against Auburn, he failed to allow a sack. At the Senior Bowl, he looked like the most athletic tackle on the field. And according to Gaine, he did enough in his private workout to convince the Texans to make him Alabama State’s very first first-round draft pick.
The biggest reason why this might be the biggest surprise was that he was not on anyone’s first-round radar coming in. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had Howard as his 50th rated prospect, while The Draft Network had him ranked as low as 186. Pro Football Network’s own big board ranked him at 135th. That landed him as one of the two worst picks of the first round from a value standpoint.
Houston simply really wanted him and must have thought he would not be there when they picked 54th in the second round. However, according to the Montgomery Advisor, the Texans were not the only teams to call Alabama State coaches regarding Howard. Here is what former ASU offensive line coach Justin Keown said regarding NFL teams’ interest in Howard:
The Texans and the Cowboys were the two that liked him the most…When it came their time, I didn’t know if they were going to do it.
For the Texans, they did.
You are going to see many sites grade this pick poorly due to the value the Texans gave up. I can’t fault those grades, but I’m also not here to be negative. As our own Jonathan Valencia (@JonValenciaBF) writes, the offensive line was the biggest need for Houston, and they addressed just that with this pick. Here is one final quote from former ASU quarterbacks coach Trey Dunbar regarding Howard’s NFL future:
The Texans are getting a good one for the next 15 years. Minimum…He works hard and he knows what to do…He’s a testament to what can happen when you work.
I’ll personally be rooting for that to be true for Tytus Howard.