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2016 NFL Mock Draft: Houston Texans Reload The Defensive Line

Watt, Mercilus, and Clowney are already a terrifying trio of pass rushers, but some draft experts think they could use even MORE help.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Kadar’s latest Monday mock draft takes the Texans in a direction other than wide receiver for the first time in several weeks. Rather than going out to get some more help for DeAndre Hopkins, Mr. Kadar instead opted to lend some assistance to J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and the rest of the fearsome Houston front seven.

22. Houston Texans - Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State

Do you get a second wide receiver to pair opposite DeAndre Hopkins? Or do you get a second defensive end to pair opposite J.J. Watt? Jones is a talented defender who was miscast in college. He's naturally gifted with athleticism and length, and would be an upgrade over the departed Jared Crick.

Jones has some of the highest upside for any defensive player in this draft. At 6’6" and 310 pounds, with 34.5" arms and intimidating natural power, Jones is essentially the perfect physical specimen to play the 5-technique defensive end spot in Houston. He may not have put forth the best effort on every single down throughout his collegiate career, but when he really wanted to get into the backfield, there was not a single offensive lineman in the SEC who could stop him. Put him in a locker room with Watt, Vince Wilfork, Brian Cushing, and all of the other extremely hard working defenders on this roster, and I think his immense potential could be unlocked relatively  early in his career.

Speaking of Watt, the addition of more defensive line talent will not just make his job easier in third and long situations, but it will help preserve his incredible career as well. Forcing Watt to play 90% of the snaps game in and game out will only increase his risk of injury with each passing season.  That reality became frighteningly apparent last year when he played through a litany of medical setbacks before finally succumbing to a groin injury. Jones is talented enough to not just play alongside Watt, but to frequently spell him as well. The more snaps Watt can spend recovering on the sideline, the longer he will be able to wear a jersey for this team. That fact alone is worth a first round investment in Chris Jones to me.

What say you, BRB? Are you still hoping for a star receiver in the first round to pair with DeAndre Hopkins, or is a high-upside defensive lineman more your style?