Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine has quite a challenge as he prepares for his first draft with the team.

He enters Thursday looking to upgrade a team that went 4-12 last season and has no picks in the first two rounds. Instead of worrying about the picks Houston doesn't have Youth Evgeni Malkin Jersey , Gaine is focused on how he can get the most out of the four picks the Texans own in the third and fourth rounds.

"Although they might not be player 50 or 60, we're still going to get four players in the top 103," Gaine said. "So, we're very positive that we'll be able to get contributing players at any one of those picks in the third and the fourth round."

The Texans don't have a first-round pick for the first time in franchise history. They traded away this year's choice to Cleveland to get quarterback Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick in last year's draft. They previously sent their second-round pick in this draft to the Browns as part of the deal to get rid of Brock Osweiler.

Houston's first pick will be No. 68, and it received the 80th pick from Seattle in the trade for left tackle Duane Brown. Houston got the 98th selection in the third round as a compensatory pick for A.J. Bouye signing with the Jaguars last year.

The Texans have one fourth-rounder, three picks in the sixth round and a seventh-round selection this year.

Gaine wouldn't rule out trading up if they really like a player, but it doesn't seem likely.

"If there's a certain player that's falling down on the board that we had a very good grade on, certainly we're always going to talk about that scenario if we have the ammunition and the latitude to go up," he said. "I would tell you, historically, I would much prefer to go down than I ever would to go up, to get more at-bats, to accumulate more good players."

OFFENSIVE LINE NEEDS

Believing they've finally found their franchise quarterback in Watson, the Texans need to upgrade the offensive line to protect him. The unit took a hit last season when Brown, their franchise left tackle Womens Luke Kuechly Jersey , was traded to Seattle, and the Texans allowed the second-most sacks in the league with 54. Houston addressed the situation by signing guards Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton and tackle Seantrel Henderson in free agency, but could still try to add reinforcements in the draft.

GAINE'S TIME

Gaine will be in charge of a draft for the first time in his career after Houston hired him in January to take over for Rick Smith, who took a leave of absence to be with his wife, who is fighting cancer. Although this is his first stint as a general manager, Gaine has plenty of experience in scouting and player evaluations, having worked as assistant general manager for the Dolphins and in player personnel for the Texans and the Bills.

HITS AND MISSES

Although it's a small sample size, the Texans appear to have hit big in last year's draft with Watson. He starred in seven games before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in practice. Watson threw for 1,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions as a rookie and is on track to be healthy for the start of the 2018 season.

Another solid pick for the Texans in the last few years is Jadeveon Clowney, selected first overall in 2014. The defensive end shook off a couple of injury-filled seasons to become one of the top defenders in the league. He finished second in the NFL with a career-high 21 tackles for losses and his 9 1/2 sacks, 21 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles also were career bests.

While the Texans hit on Clowney in that draft, their second-round selection might be one of their worst misses. Houston passed on quarterback Derek Carr to take Xavier Su'a-Filo with the 33rd overall pick. The offensive guard started 31 of 32 games over the past two seasons, but struggled with consistency, and the Texans chose not to re-sign him this offseason.

The national anthem is going to be a hot topic at the NFL owners meetings.

Just don’t expect any far-ranging decisions to be made.

Judging by the comments Sunday from the Texans’ Robert McNair and the Jets‘ Christopher Johnson, the debate among the 32 owners could be confrontational.

McNair http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.c...us-ware-jersey , who last year made an analogy of inmates running the prison about players’ demonstrations during the anthem, remains adamant that everyone should stand for the ”The Star-Spangled Banner.”

”Our playing field is not the place for political statements, not the place for religious statements,” McNair said. ”It’s the place for football.”

Johnson, acting owner of the Jets with his brother, Woody, serving as ambassador to the United Kingdom, took a far different tack.

”I have immense respect for the players and their efforts,” Christopher Johnson said. ”I think if other teams approached it like that, it would not be such a problem in the NFL.

”I can’t speak to how other people run their teams, but I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea.”

While the social protests players made last season will be a topic here, reaching an agreement on language in the league’s policy regarding behavior during the anthem is highly unlikely. Owners will meet again in May in Atlanta, and with so much other business to attend in the next three days, the anthem issue figures to extend until then.

”I don’t know if it’ll be a vote or just a new policy coming out,” Giants owner John Mara said. ”I think we can’t go much beyond the May meeting before coming up with some sort of resolution to that.”

McNair and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are among the leaders of the move to ban any demonstrations during the anthem. McNair drew strong criticism from a variety of players after making his ”inmates” comment last fall.

”We’re going to deal with it in such a way http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.co...ukamara-jersey , I think, that people will understand that we want everybody to respect our country, respect our flag,” McNair said Sunday. ”And our playing fields, that’s not the place for political statements.

”Fans are upset about it. The fans are our customers. You can replace the owners and the league would survive. You can replace the players, although the game won’t be as good. You can’t replace the fans. If you don’t have the fans, you’re dead.”

Johnson was more willing to search for answers to the anthem issue while also not wanting the players’ messages to be lost. He doesn’t favor seeing the policy changed to having the players remain in the locker room until after the anthem is played, which has been discussed.

”I think that’s a particularly bad idea,” Johnson said.

What about changing the language to the players must stand?

”I don’t agree with that either, but I’m only one of 32 owners,” he added. ”I think that the Jets had a pretty great thing happen last year around the anthem. I think there was an understanding between me and the players that we could use our position – rightly or wrongly, people pay attention to teams and athletes – but we could use our position to get some great stuff done off the field. I think we have done some great things off the field.”

Another off-field topic is the sale of the Carolina Panthers. Jerry Richardson announced in December that he was selling following allegations of workplace misconduct.

”He’s going to sell the team,” McNair said of the 81-year-old Richardson. ”He’s had all kinds of health problems. … I don’t know all the details, but I know he has some good prospective buyers that appear to be qualified.”

As for investigations into Richardson’s behavior, McNair defended his fellow owner Youth Dion Phaneuf Jersey , also citing instances when the Texans faced similar accusations.

”I understand what he’s saying,” McNair said. ”Sometimes people choose to try to make something go away rather than fighting. I think his regret is he didn’t fight some of these things.

”We got confronted with it, too, where people will allege something, they get a lawyer, and what they do is come out and threaten you. And your legal counsel and your insurance people say, `Well, it’s going to cost you X number millions of dollars’ to defend this. And if we can settle it for this.’

”Well, wait a minute. We’re not guilty. Why would we do that?’ That’s the question. Sometimes just to get rid of it, if you can get rid of it, (you) – do it.”



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