For the first time since 2016, the first overall pick of the NFL Draft did not play his high school football in the state of Texas as Ohio’s Joe Burrow stayed in Cincinnati and will quarterback the Bengals.
It was altogether a different version of the draft, being done completely virtually with all of the players, coaches and the commissioner staying in their own homes and communicating via video conference and checking in with the broadcast channels.
Still, the state of Texas ended the draft with the highest number of drafted players, with all 33 playing for a public high school in the University Interscholastic League. California (23), Florida (22) and Georgia (21) were next in line.
The Houston Texans picked once in the second and third rounds, twice in the fourth and once again in the fifth, taking three defensive players and two offensive players.
The first two picks were on the defensive side of the ball, the first of which filled a defensive tackle vacancy with the 40th overall pick.
Ross Blalock grew up a stone’s throw away from Houston’s NRG Stadium in Missouri City, playing his high school football for Fort Bend Elkins where he eventually made his name known for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.
"I had pretty high hopes of being drafted in the first round," Blacklock said via conference call with media. "That's kind of where my goal was, maybe first or early second. Unfortunately, I didn't go in the first but I'm beyond excited to be able to come and play for my hometown, just to be able to do good things for this city and play great football. I'm just excited."
After Blalock was linebacker Jonathan Greenard from the University of Florida with the 90th overall pick. He started his career at Louisville and was named team captain for the 2018 season but suffered a season-ending wrist injury the first series of the season. He transferred to Florida and was on the first-team all-Southeastern Conference, registering nine and a half sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
"I'm going to come in and work hard," Greenard said in a media conference shortly after the draft. "I'm going to have the same mentality I had in college, and high school. I had the underdog mindset."
The first of the Texans’ two fourth-round selections was University of North Carolina offensive tackle Charlie Heck, the son of the former Notre Dame All-American and 1989 first-round draft pick at offensive tackle, Andy Heck, who currently serves as the offensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It's been a dream of mine since I can remember going with my dad to football games and to play for a team like the Texans," Heck said via conference call Saturday. "I mean, I'm still speechless right now. You know, football has been in my family a long time. My dad played, he's coach now. So it's kind of been in my blood growing up and just watching all these teams. I mean, I couldn't be happier to be a part of this organization."
The next newest member of the organization was cornerback John Reid out of Penn State with the 141st overall pick although he feels as though his versatility is the biggest asset he brings with him to the lone star state.
"I just bring a bit of versatility that I've shown on film, inside and outside," Reid said. "I've played special teams, I've done a lot in the return game and stuff like that, so I think I'm versatile player that I can kind of be played a bit everywhere."
Reid will add to the secondary depth after Tashaun Gipson was cut this offseason although he signed a three-year, $22.5 million deal in 2019 and will leave a $4.25 million dead cap hit.
Houston’s final draft selection was University of Rhode Island wide receiver Isaiah Coulter with the No. 171 pick in the fifth round. He joins a crowded wide receiver group even after DeAndre Hopkins was swapped for Arizona running David Johnson to begin the offseason.
Still, Coulter shined in his final season at Rhode Island, totaling 1,039 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. He added a nine-catch, 152-yard performance against Virginia Tech in week six of the season after recording a 10-catch game against New Hampshire in week three and registering a season-high 12 catches in a week-five win over Brown.