Draft Preview: Houston Texans loaded with picks
The 2022 Houston Texans will roll out a new era this season. The Texans will have a fresh start to build a team that fits newly promoted Head Coach Lovie Smith. Houston has 7 picks (Round 1, 2, 3, 4) in the top 110 thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade to Cleveland. With the draft just hours away from starting, the Texans are drafting with the number 3 overall draft position and followed quickly by 13. It is important to note that many general managers across the NFL have all summarized the 2022 as a “Move down and gain value” rather than the trade up approach that has been a trend in recent drafts.
Ultimately, Houston has their eyes on a few players at positions that need major upgrade. Texans have evaluated the quarterbacks in the draft class and can surprise by taking one early in the first round. With the 3rd pick it may not be likely be a quarterback as this QB group is not considered an elite class, and the Texans will try and fill one of the many other holes that are on this roster. The 3rd pick will depend on who Jacksonville and Detroit select in front of the Texans. This draft class is deep with edge rushers, and defensive ends are a need for Texans ever since J.J. Watt has departed for Arizona. If Jacksonville selects Aiden Hutchinson (DE) from Michigan, and the mock drafts hold true and Lions draft Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (CB) from Cincinnati University, the Texans will have a decision to make.
Number 3 can be very lucky for Houston if they do decide to keep the pick and not trade down to gain more picks. Coach Lovie Smith is known to build a team based on the physical style of their defensive line. If Travon Walker (DE) from the national champions, Georgia Bulldogs, is still available, it will be difficult to pass on him. In many mock drafts, experts have Walker going as the #1 overall pick, and listed as the best possible player in this draft. Keep in mind, if Walker is taken 1 or 2, Texans sure have a need at cornerback and offensive line and can go that route, otherwise another edge rusher that has potential can be Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE) from Oregon University. It is very likely that the Texans can take a chance and draft the best offensive tackle in the draft, Evan Neal (OT) from Alabama if they would like a future pro-bowler to anchor that newly built offensive line.
With the 13th pick overall, the Texans have several options to go with. It will depend on what position is filled with number 3, but Lovie Smith may be able to draft lockdown cornerbacks Derek Stingley (CB) from LSU or Andrew Booth Jr. (CB) from Clemson.
The second round can bring tremendous value to the Texans. If the national championship game standout Nakobe Dean (OLB), from Georgia, is still available it would only mean Lovie Smith has drafted a “consistently great linebacker” as Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has described him. If Dean is not available, Houston may need to add depth to a running back group that features Rex Burkhead as the featured back. Expect Texans to draft Breece Hall (RB) from Iowa State that is a physical running back that has quality receiving skills and can generate yards after catch. Many scouts have compared him to an Austin Ekler type of running back.
Round 3 and 4 are all about adding possible starters to the Texans’ roster. If a cornerback was not added in the first or second round, Texans will need to add more depth by drafting Roger McCreary (CB) from Auburn 68th overall. McCreary dropped to a 3rd round grade mostly because of his height. Multiple scouts have graded his coverage skills and route jumping as “the best in the draft.” With the 80th pick in the draft, the Texans will have no choice but to stick to re-building the defense. If Dean were not selected in the 2nd round, Texans would draft a linebacker. It is a need, and DeAngelo Malone (OLB) from Western Kentucky may be that need to convert as a hybrid edge rusher and linebacker. He did both for Western Kentucky last year, and if an edge rusher were selected in the first round it would add depth to an important position.
An offensive lineman would be on the mind of Texans General Manager, Nick Caserio, to take with the 107th pick (4th round). Look for the Texans to add Joshua Ezeudu (G) North Carolina and with the immediate pick following Ezeudu, the Texans should take Tight End that was graded as a top route runner in this year’s class.
Houston would draft Charlie Kolar (TE) from Iowa State. Round 5 (170th pick) will bring more of the same. With several offensive positions identified, coach Smith may turn back to adding depth to the defensive backs core. He would urge Texans to draft a fast and physical safety, Verone McKinley III (S) from Oregon. Rounding out the draft, round 6 can add some value to needed positions. At the 205th position, the Texans can take Myron Cunningham (OT) from Arkansas that was crucial to the Razorbacks success in 2021. Houston Texans would have a revamped defense by selecting Tyree Johnson (OLB) from Texas A&M at the 207th position to end the draft with players that can show up to training camp ready to fight for starting positions and heavy playing time.