The NFL Draft should be the best night of many players’ lives. It’s the reward for years of hard work, the start of a new adventure, and what should be a big payday. But for some, their day of fame is ruined by the forces at work that are not selecting them where they were projected. Draft day slides are all too familiar for players, especially one who is currently on the Texans’ offensive line, but for the Houston Texans, slides like that in the 2021 NFL Draft are exactly what they are hoping for.
With a pick mid-day on Day Three of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Texans can sit back, evaluate, and select. This draft will be about value, potential, and identity, three things the Texans lack on their current roster.
Selecting a player who is sliding in the draft can be a double-edged sword. Hysteria can be real in the draft room, and general managers may worry that everyone else has information on a player that they don’t. It’s impossible to know everything about everyone, but if these three players were available for the Texans at any point in the draft, Houston should definitely not pass them up.
Daviyon Nixon, DT - Iowa
People are all over the board on Nixon. Some sites have his as the third best interior defensive lineman in the draft. Some have him available in the fourth round. What we do know is that Nixon is a talented interior defensive lineman short on resume who would fit perfectly in the Texans’ four-man defensive front. Nixon only spent one year at Iowa, but quickly made his name known on campus as an All-American.
The Texans need someone to complement last year’s disappointing second round pick Ross Blacklock. Blacklock was not a system fit, which contributed to his less than stellar rookie season. Nixon would be a true 3-technique who can rotate with Blacklock all over the interior. Nixon even had a J.J. Watt-esque pick-six play against Penn State this past year. There won't be many other chances to secure an All American who led the Big Ten in tackles for loss in this draft...or any other.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB - Syracuse
The Tampa 2 defense requires physical cornerbacks who are not afraid to dive head-first into the run game. The Texans don’t need another slot corner. What they need is a tall, rangy, gritty corner who is a mentality-changer on the defense. Someone who will dive in to tackle Derrick Henry but can also keep pace with A.J. Brown. Red-shirt junior Ifeatu Melifonwu is all that and a slice of pecan pie. Melifonwu is a 6’2” corner out of Syracuse who played in a press Cover Two defense. He is said to be built like a safety but has the traits and agility to be a top-end corner in the NFL.
Melifonwu will also give The Voice of the Houston Texans, Marc Vandermeer, a new favorite name to pronounce on game days. Syracuse does have several draftable players in the secondary, which may make some worry Ifeatu was only as good as his supporting cast. Still, the Texans would love if he was available at the start of the third round.
Nico Collins, WR - Michigan
Wide receiver as a whole is making more and more sense for the Texans as the draft approaches. Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and Keke Coutee are all long-term question marks for the Texans. Personally, I believe the Texans will draft a center with one of their first two picks, but if you’re telling me that a player like Nico Collins could be available Day Two or Three, I’d say you have to make it happen. The 6’4” receiver sat out this past year due to COVID-19, but he had a strong Senior Bowl showing in front of scouts.
There is a ton of skepticism about Collins due to a lack of tape, but his size-speed combination and big play ability would be a nice asset to have. Collins has to work on his hands and attacking the football in the air, but his overall skillset should be alluring to this coaching staff. With last year’s fifth-round pick Isaiah Coulter as the only promising young receiver in the position group, the Texans are hoping to find a breakthrough athlete they can build for the long-term.