What does the Matt Schaub trade mean for the Draft?

posted March 21, 2014 in CommRadio, NFL Draft by Kris Rogers

After the Houston Texans signed former Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a two-year contract, the team’s previous starting quarterback Matt Schaub became expendable.
The Texans traded its franchise leader in every passing category to the Oakland Raiders for a sixth-round draft pick in this May’s draft, altering the draft strategy for both teams.

Schaub had an $11 million cap hit for the 2014 season, which limited the number of trade partners for the Texans. With the Raiders having more than $25 million in cap space and still needing to get in compliance with the minimum salary cap and NFL collective bargaining agreement, they could take on his contract without any problems. This trade also gave the Texans extra cap room to sign future free agents or give players extensions on their current deals.

After leading the Texans to a 12-4 regular season and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2012, the 10-year veteran from Virginia struggled in 2013. He was benched in favor of former University of Houston quarterback Case Keenum in week seven.

In ten games (eight starts) Schaub completed 219 of 358 passes (61.2% completion percentage) for 2,310 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also throwing 14 interceptions, the second most in his career. Schaub was also the first player in NFL history to throw a pick-six in four straight games.

Despite his poor stats, Schaub’s addition does give the Raiders a capable starter and a veteran quarterback ahead of Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin for next season.

Looking at this May’s draft, this deal makes it unlikely that the Raiders draft a quarterback early with the fifth overall pick. Instead, Oakland should use the pick to either solidify the offensive line to protect Schaub’s blind side or to give him an explosive receiver.

Jake Matthews would be an ideal left tackle for the Raiders if he is available. A cousin of the Matthews brothers, the Texas A&M product is arguably the most technically-sound lineman in this year’s draft. With a quick first step and long arms to keep defenders at bay, Matthews is an excellent blocker in both the run and pass game. His bread and butter is driving defensive linemen off the ball with his powerful legs, but is capable of holding his own when left one-on-one.

At wide receiver, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins would be the best option for Oakland. With fluid movement and explosive speed from his first step off the line, Watkins possesses the skills to be a premier NFL wide out. He has great ball skills, sure hands, and can stop on a dime with and without the ball to gain separation from defenders or make tacklers miss. His presence would bolster the Raiders’ receiving corps that currently is compiled of Rod Streeter, Denarius Moore, and the recently added Packers free-agent James Jones.

For Houston, this trade does not change much to its draft strategy. The organization seemed to have lost faith in Schaub, and were able to sign Fitzpatrick as a cheaper veteran replacement.
With the first overall pick, the Texans will have a choice of any of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. However, if Houston chooses to draft a pass rusher like Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack, it can still find talent at the quarterback position on day two of the draft.

Both the Raiders and Texans still have moves to make if they wish to return to NFL prominence, but this trade is a step forward for both teams.

Kristopher Rogers is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email klr5374@psu.edu.