Some guys like "What if?" Draft threads and some guys don't. If it's not your nature to wonder what might have been or if you think it's a stupid excercise in futility I respect that. There are plenty of David Carr threads to read so don't bother looking that this one if that's the case. I personally tend to linger over the mistakes when they're mistakes that I can't account for, when they're mistakes that I myself can honestly say I'd have not made. I'd like to look over the Texans previous drafts (understanding that the Texans front office responsible for the lions share of it is gone) and see what might very well have happened. I'm never going to cover everyone who was a Texan. I'm going to focus on a core of players and what might have been. I'm never going to to cover everyone the Texans might have selected. That's because I'm no draft guru. I'm just a fan who makes his fair share of mistakes and sometimes thinks I know better than the powers that be. Where the Texans are concerned I'm afraid to say that I might even be a little right about that. 2002 Expansion Draft Starting with the expansion draft of 2002 I think everyone looked on the team with a lot of optimism. Unlike the Browns had done we racked up a pretty tight core of players in our expansion draft and it really looked like we were going to be doing this the right way. In the expansion draft we landed a number of starters on defense and two most important projected starters on offense. Outside of Boselli and Young however I don't think the Texans really thought they'd done anything to address the offense. The expansion draft was all about one side of the ball. I also think that the Texans knew at that point that they were going to pick David Carr first overall and that put them on the path to picking Young and Boselli. If you're going to build around a rookie QB that seems to be the right track (based on those players being healthy and the Texans options at the time). Here are the players of note that we took in the expansion draft. Offense Tony Boselli Ryan Young Defense Aaron Glen Marcus Coleman Gary Walker Seth Payne Matt Stevens Jamie Sharper Taking the "bookend tackles" was widely thought of as a brilliant move at the time and the fact that both of them are out of football now just demonstrates how badly that idea turned out. Call the expansion draft a complete wash on the offensive side of the ball. The only offensive player we ever got anything out of was Danny Wuerffel who we were able to trade to Washington for Jerry DeLoach. He was solid if unspectacular for our defense in it's early years. As a matter of fact I'm going to add him to the expansion draft list since his arrival was technically a result of that draft. Free agency and trades netted us Steve McKinney, Jay Foreman, Kailee Wong, Jeff Posey, Moran Norris, Kenny Wright, Corey Bradford, and Billy Miller. 2002 Draft Hindsight is 20/20 but stop for a second and imagine that the Texans had grabbed Peppers with the first overall pick in 2002 like they clearly should have. Then take Portis instead of Gaffney in the 2nd round because lets be honest here, nobody in their right mind was jumping up and down hoping that the Texans would say "Jabbar Gaffney" when they came up to the podium. Finally we go ahead and take Chester Pitts with our next choice at #50 and the rest of the draft plays out like it did (except obviously Jonathan Wells probably doesn't become a Texan if Clinton Portis was taken in the 2nd round). This means we just started our franchise with the following players as our initial core Offense QB:Tony Banks (FA) RB:Clinton Portis (02) FB:Moran Norris (FA) WR:Corey Bradford (FA) WR:Jermaine Lewis (EX) TE:Billy Miller (FA) LT:Chester Pitts (02) LG:Ryan Schau (FA) C:Steve McKinney (FA) RG:Fred Weary (02) RT:journeyman rotation (FA) Defense (3-4) DE:Julius Peppers (02) DT:Seth Payne (EX) DE:Gary Walker (EX) LB:Jamie Sharper (EX) LB:Kailee Wong (FA) LB:Jay Foreman (FA) LB:Jeff Posey (FA) FS:Matt Stevens (EX) SS:Eric Brown (FA) CB:Aaron Glenn (EX) CB:Marcus Coleman (EX) That's about how I see the team in 2002 if this scenario played out. It's pretty much the same defense that we had that year and they played well. It's clearly still the strength of the team in my version. In that respect not much has changed here. and it's easy to see that the Texans options were very limited at this point. The offense however is going to be very different (but will arrive at the same results). Probably James Allen still splits time with the rookie (only this time the rookie is Portis) and I think it's likely that the two of them don't account for much more than the yards Allen and Wells produced. The poor running game in 2002 was much more the result of the pitiful offensive line than any other factor. Again we have Corey Bradford and Billy Miller catching the ball and again we have relatively poor pass protection. What is different is that without David Carr the Texans have to start Tony Banks. The net result is (IMO) possibly one more win and at least twenty fewer sacks. The difference between a veteran and a rookie would never find a better stage to be compared upon. No we don't suddenly develop a feared passing game. Banks manages games for the Texans and not much more. What he does for us is to provide veteran leadership (albeit veteran journeyman leadership) and so the Texans offense isn't quite as inept in my "do-over" as it was in the real 2002. Ultimately your QB is still going to be beaten up. The point is that you're getting Tony Banks beaten up and not your expensive first round draft pick who you plan to build your "dynasty" around beaten up. Still, assume another 4-12 record and the exact same draft position as in reality 2003 Draft Clearly we're taking Andre Johnson again with the third overall pick. That's obviously something we did right in reality. In the second round we again take Bennie Joppru (Nobody could have predicted the series of injuries he suffered and we needed a true multi-skill TE). In the third round we landed Antwan Peek (67) with our first pick of the round Following this the Texans departed from reality. With pick #75 they chose Seth Wand and the Texans faithful collectively went "Who?". Still in the third round they inexplicably took Dave Ragone at #88 This is the one pick I take exception to in the 2003 draft. It made no sense. Today, looking back it still makes no sense. With holes up and down our roster Charlie Casserly made a selection that defied explanation. Now, in my revised scenario we didn't take David Carr first overall so we aren't taking "another QB" and we're not taking one that we don't need. If we do take a QB here we probably don't intend to start him in 2003. In keeping with my desire to not simply cherry pick past drafts I'm going to say that QB is as valid a choice as any here but I'm also going to state that I can't in my wildest dreams imagine taking Dave Ragone over Chris Simms. Simms was the next QB taken. I also can't imagine the Texans not paying attention to the play of their safeties the previous season. It was clear to most everyone I spoke with at the time that the Texans were hurting at the safety position. Don't we all remember the Matt Stevens tirades of 2002 and 2003? Instead of Dave Ragone (out of football I believe) I'm going to take Todd Johnson who was picked 12 spots after we took a QB we didn't need. He starts for Chicago right now. Maybe he's not the best Safety in the world but we could certainly have used him. The first day ended weird IMO. Still I'm going to go ahead and say that with the exception of the Ragone pick it all stands. On the second day of the draft things got better with the selection of Domanick Davis (101) in the fourth and Drew Henson (192) in the 6th. The Henson pick would eventually land us a higher pick in a later draft and Domanick Davis (Williams) was a real steal at the spot he was taken. In the "Clinton Portis sporting Texans" Domanick Davis becomes the third down back and special teams player he was originally envisioned to be. Going into the 2003 season our "core" of players improves as follows: Offense QB:Tony Banks (FA) RB:Clinton Portis (02) FB:Moran Norris (FA) WR:Andre Johnson (03) WR:Corey Bradford(FA) TE:Billy Miller (FA) LT:Chester Pitts (02) LG: Milford Brown (02S) C:Steve McKinney (FA) RG:Fred Weary (02) RT:Zack Weigert (FA) Defense (3-4) DE:Julius Peppers (02) DT:Seth Payne (EX) DE:Gary Walker (EX) LB:Jamie Sharper (EX) LB:Kailee Wong (FA) LB:Antwan Peek (03) LB:Jay Foreman (FA) FS:Todd Johnson (03) SS:Eric Brown (FA) CB:Aaron Glenn (EX) CB:Marcus Coleman (EX) The "core" is getting a little better. We play the 2003 season (again with Tony Banks as our starter) and IMO we again win one more game than we did in our first season. The rash of defensive injuries we had in 2003 was impossible to predict and if it happened again the results would be the same. What I do think would have happened in 2003 is that the offense would have been better equipped to pulls it's share of the load with an improved running game and the added threat of Andre Johnson. Still, 5-11 is probably about right.