Ranking the top 10 worst draft picks is an excellent opportunity to relive past pain and dwell on what could have been. For this assignment of self-torture, landing on the deciding factors to rank them is not an exact science, but in this case, we will focus on appearances, the overall return on investment, and where applicable the circumstances around their selection.
1 – D.J. Swearinger, S (2nd, 2013)
Swearinger’s career was rough from the word ‘go.’ During his rookie season, Swearinger essentially ended then Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller’s career with a hit that, according to ESPN, resulted in Keller suffering “a torn ACL, MCL, PCL and a dislocated knee cap.”
Swearinger followed this up in 2014 by punching Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas during a joint practice before giving fellow Broncos receiver Wes Welker a concussion during their preseason matchup.
After 36 appearances for the Texans, Swearinger was subsequently cut in early 2015 “due to unwillingness to play Special Teams.”
What’s frustrating about Swearinger’s pick is that there is a decent enough player there, but his attitude prevented him from ever reaching his potential in Houston.
Swearinger, now 29, has bounced around the league since being cut by the Texans in 2015. Not only was this the beginning of a tumultuous NFL career for Swearinger, but also the beginning of a rotating door at the position for the Houston Texans.
2 – Bennie Joppru, TE (2nd, 2003)
Still a team in their infancy, the Texans swung and missed on the second-round pick in just their second NFL draft. Joppru sadly suffered season-ending injuries during each of his three years in Houston, making just one appearance in total.
A valuable pick that ultimately went unrewarded.
3 – Travis Johnson, DT (1st, 2005)
Drafted 16th overall in 2005, naturally expectations were high. However, Johnson’s career in Houston was held back by “numerous injuries and inconsistent play,” per ABC 13.
Johnson made 54 appearances, 38 of which he started, recording 111 combined tackles and just two sacks during his four seasons in Houston before the former first-rounder was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 2009 for a sixth-round pick. Johnson went on to spend just two seasons in San Diego, failing to start a game.
4 – Tony Hollings, RB (2nd, 2003)
A supplemental draft pick that was acquired for a second-rounder from the Oakland Raiders, Hollings never lived up to the heights his draft selection would have you expect. In 2002 while still at Georgia Tech, Hollings suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and cartilage damage to his right knee which subsequently required surgery. And unfortunately, Hollings was never able to recapture the form that had convinced the Texans to gamble a second-round pick.
During his three seasons in Houston Hollings managed just 149 rushing yards and zero touchdowns in 23 appearances (only one start).
5 – Brandon Harris, DB (2nd, 2011)
2011 will be a draft to remember for the Texans having selected three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt in the first round, while also finding other eventual contributors Brooks Reed, Derek Newton, and T.J. Yates.
However, with the 60th overall pick, the Texans traded two picks to move up and grab Harris. To put into perspective how wrong they were, guys like Randall Cobb, Justin Houston, DeMarco Murray and Jurell Casey all went within the next 17 picks.
Harris eventually spent three years in Houston, failing to start a regular-season game in 31 appearances and recording just 37 combined tackles and seven defended passes along the way.
6 – Jason Babin, DE/LB (1st 2004)
Another early pick in the Texans’ history, Babin went 27th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. In of itself, his career as a Texan was far from poor, but the return the franchise got from such a high pick warrants his place in this list.
After spending just three seasons in Houston during which he recorded 22 starts and 13 sacks, Babin was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for safety Michael Boulware who made 16 appearances (0 starts) during his only season in Houston – hardly a great return for a former first-rounder.
Meanwhile, Babin bounced around the league until landing in Tennessee in 2010 when he recorded his first Pro Bowl appearance, being named a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro the following season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
So not only did Houston get little out of Babin whilst he was in town, but they also got little in return when letting him go, and clearly did not get the best out of a talented player… That’s a bad pick from start to finish.
7 – Sam Montgomery, DE (3rd, 2013)
Montgomery was waived during his rookie season having failed to play a single snap, with the decision to cut him cited as having violated team rules. At the end of the day, this was a strange situation and very much a wasted pick.
8 – Brennan Williams, OT (3rd, 2013)
Unfortunately, Williams never played a single snap for the Texans. His rookie season ended after having to undergo microfracture surgery on his knee and was subsequently released the following year after failing his physical.
Unlucky, but ultimately a wasted pick nonetheless.
9 – Dave Ragone, QB (3rd, 2003)
The Texans have a chequered history when it comes to quarterbacks, and Ragone is a prime example. During his rookie season, Ragone backed up second-year QB David Carr and went on to make two starts as a rookie. Ragone completed 20 of 40 attempts for 135 yards and one interception, going on to lose both games. He never played another down for the Texans.
Fun fact: Ragone is now entering his first season as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
10 – Charles Spencer, G (3rd, 2006)
Deciding on number ten was tough as there were a few candidates, particularly on offense. Running back Vernand Morency came close, as did wide receivers Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller, and DeVier Posey. Meanwhile, Kahale Warring has the potential to fall into this category, unless 2021 proves to be a breakout season. However, for the moment at least, Spencer cannot be ignored.
Spencer’s career began so promisingly, starting at left tackle in two games his rookie season, all for his career to come crashing down around him. Breaking his leg during his second game, Spencer never played in the NFL again.
CONTINUE READING: Texans Top 10 All-Time Best NFL Draft Picks – Ranked