The last time your Houston Texans had the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, they selected phenom defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. With dreams of prime Clowney and J.J. Watt wrecking opposing offenses for the next decade dancing in our heads, the turf seams at NRG Stadium bit Clowney’s knee, resulting in microfracture surgery. Dreams turned to nightmares.
Fast forward to 2021. Clowney plays for the Cleveland Browns, J.J. Watt is a member of the Arizona Cardinals, and a third round rookie quarterback is the talk of the town on a Houston roster almost entirely devoid of talent.
However, if Nick Caserio plays his cards right, Houston has a shot at the coveted #1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, as Caserio’s team seems to be overachieving (even with a single win), that shot is fading away, as other NFL teams somehow look more hopeless than the Texans.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5)
Average draft position: 2.7
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 42.5%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 89.5%
2. Detroit Lions (0-5)
Average draft position: 4.1
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 19.0%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 76.3%
3. New York Jets (1-4)
Average draft position: 4.3
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 15.8%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 74.0%
4. Houston Texans (1-4)
Average draft position: 4.9
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 12.8%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 69.3%
5. New York Giants (1-4)
Average draft position: 7.5
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 3.3%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 40.9%
IF - big IF - the Texans can manage to not win another game, they only need Jacksonville and Detroit to win two apiece and Houston just might still secure the top pick. Houston has to play Jacksonville once more, which means Houston could accidentally win another game, effectively shutting the door on the first overall pick
Detroit, which held the lead on the Minnesota Vikings last week for all of 37-ish seconds, seems closer to their first win than the Glitter Kitties. One can only lament what Trevor Lawrence could have done on a real team.
CBS Sports has the Texans falling all the way to the 8th pick in their latest mock draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Round 1 - Pick 1
OREGON • SOPH • 6’5” / 258 LBS
Thankfully, the Jags have their franchise quarterback and with the No. 1 overall pick they go with one of the safest picks in this class.
Detroit Lions - Round 1 - Pick 2
TEXAS A&M • JR • 6’4” / 290 LBS
Originally a defensive end, Leal, at 6-foot-4, 290, has the versatility and athleticism to play up and down the line. He has the potential to be really, really good in the NFL, and he and the Aggies are coming off a huge win over previously unbeaten Alabama.
New York Jets - Round 1 - Pick 3
Evan Neal OL
ALABAMA • JR • 6’7” / 350 LBS
Neal is a an athletic marvel who has excelled at several O-line positions for the Crimson Tide. The Jets have to make protecting Zach Wilson a priority because he has looked shell-shocked in his first month as an NFL QB.
Philadelphia Eagles - Round 1 - Pick 4
NOTRE DAME • JR • 6’4” / 219 LBS
Marcus Epps is the only Eagles free safety under contract after this season and Hamilton, who is a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed, is a Day 1 impact player.
Atlanta Falcons - Round 1 - Pick 5
MICHIGAN • SR • 6’6” / 265 LBS
The Falcons could go cornerback here, too, but pass rusher is a big need as well. Hutchinson can be just about unstoppable at times, and he’d be the latest Wolverines edge rusher to be an early-round draft pick.
New England Patriots - Round 1 - Pick 6
LSU • JR • 6’1” / 195 LBS
The Patriots have moved on from Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson, their best cornerback, is in the last year of his rookie deal. Stingley, who is sidelined with an injury, remains CB1.
Indianapolis Colts - Round 1 - Pick 7
CLEMSON • JR • 6’0” / 200 LBS
The Colts could stand to bolster the offensive line here but Evan Neal is the only clear-cut top 10 pick and he’s off the board. Cornerback is also a need and Booth, who has all the athleticism and tools to be special, has balled out early in Clemson’s season.
Houston Texans - Round 1 - Pick 8
Matt Corral QB
OLE MISS • JR • 6’2” / 205 LBS
Tyrod Taylor is the bridge QB to whomever is next, and while rookie Davis Mills could eventually grow into the job, Corral has been spectacular this season for Ole Miss — he has the tools to be a Lamar Jackson/Trey Lance/Josh Allen-type quarterback but he’s still incredibly raw.
Pro Football Network has Houston going EDGE with the #4 pick in the draft.
4) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Unlike their offense without Tyrod Taylor, this 2022 NFL Mock Draft has worked out quite well for the Texans. Their quarterback issues are likely to see them strike for a signal-caller next spring. However, landing Kayvon Thibodeaux — who many consider the best overall player in the class — with their fourth overall selection is not to be frowned at.
The Oregon pass rusher is a delicious combination of athleticism, strength, play speed, and football intelligence. There aren’t many — if any — who are equally capable of getting after the quarterback and being effective against the run. While Whitney Mercilus has been a longtime Texans stalwart, they free up $13.5 million in average salary and upgrade at the defensive end position with their selection of Thibodeaux.
NBC Sports has the pick that seems most likely from this chair, Liberty University’s Malik Willis, at 7th overall.
7. Texans: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Despite a loss on the road to an average ACC opponent ( three point loss to Syracuse), Willis’ stock continues to rise incrementally each week. His performance against Syracuse was stellar (73.6 completion percentage / three touchdown passes) and after five games he has yet to throw an interception. Willis is a threat running the ball, too, as his 418 rushing yards and six touchdowns totes demonstrate. Houston can effectively begin its rebuild with an ascending talent and leader of Willis’ caliber.
All things said, even if Houston doesn’t secure the number one pick, there’s still plenty to look ahead to next April now that Houston has their draft picks.