The 2023 NFL Draft is on Thursday. I thought we’d review one of the most important draft picks in Houston Texans‘ history. It’s the story of the first pick the Texans had in 2002.

The Houston Texans draft David Carr

In 2002, the Houston Texans were awarded a new NFL expansion franchise and had the opportunity to make their first-ever draft pick. The team wanted to make a statement and establish a competitive franchise with their first franchise pick. With the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, the Texans selected Fresno State quarterback David Carr to be the face of the franchise.

Carr was a highly touted quarterback entering the draft. He led Fresno State to an 11-3 record in his final collegiate season. Carr had a strong arm and was praised for his ability to read defenses and make quick decisions. Many draft analysts believed he was the best quarterback in his class and would be a franchise-altering player for the Texans.

Carr had a rough start with the Texans

Carr had the potential to be a star in the NFL, but he faced significant challenges during his tenure with the Texans. Because the team was an expansion franchise, they had no established players or infrastructure in place. Carr was thrown into the starting lineup immediately and was forced to play behind a patchwork offensive line comprised of mostly inexperienced players. As a result, he was sacked a record-setting 76 times during his rookie season, which is still the most sacks allowed by a single team in a single season in NFL history.

Derek Carr throwing a pass for the Houston Texans at home. Carr’s career suffered as the number-one pick in Texans franchise history. He inherited a bad situation with his surrounding cast.
Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

Despite the difficult circumstances, Carr showed flashes of brilliance during his time with the Texans. In his rookie season, he threw for 2,592 yards and 9 touchdowns, while also rushing for 2 scores. He was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October and was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.

Unfortunately, Carr’s success was short-lived. He struggled with injuries and inconsistency in the following seasons and was eventually released by the Texans after the 2006 season. He went on to play for several other teams throughout his career, but he never lived up to the expectations that were placed on him as the first overall pick.

Despite Carr’s underwhelming career, the Texans’ decision to select him with the first overall pick was not necessarily a bad one. At the time, there were no clear-cut franchise quarterbacks available in the draft, and the Texans needed to build their team from scratch. Carr had the potential to be a star player, and the team believed that he was the best option available.

The Houston Texans might have some regrets

The Texans could have selected defensive end Julius Peppers, who was considered one of the best players in the draft and went on to have a highly successful career. However, the team needed a quarterback to build their offense around more than they needed a defensive lineman. The rest of the Texans’ 2002 draft was somewhat complimentary. They were able to draft several solid players in later rounds of the draft, including tight end Jabar Gaffney and linebacker Jamie Sharper, who both went on to have productive careers.

Houston Texans quarterback David Carr (8) is sacked by New England Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin (59) during the football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006 in Foxborough, Mass. This was a scene that was known all to well to Houston Sports fans and was the reason Carr didn’t have a long NFL career.
Photo courtesy of Robert E Klein/AP.

It’s easy now to criticize the Texans for selecting Carr with the first overall pick in 2002. However, at the time, he was the best option available, and the team needed a quarterback to build their franchise around. Carr brought a lot of excitement to a new fanbase. While Carr’s career did not pan out as expected, the Texans were still able to build a competitive team during his tenure and eventually became a playoff contender, albeit after he left the Texans.

The Houston Texans’ decision to select Carr with the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft was a bold move that ultimately did not pay off for Carr. Carr had the potential to be a franchise-altering player, but he faced significant challenges during his time with the Texans and was never able to live up to the expectations that were placed on him. But those expectations were probably more unfair than the product he gave the Texans in his way too short of a career.


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