ESPN.com recently ran a piece detailing the freaky accuracy of draft pundit Jeff Legwold. The article went on to give us a look at Legwold’s Top 100 prospects for 2021. With no real way to know who will or won’t hear their name called before Houston gets a shot at the 67th overall slot, we thought we’d just take a look at three players in that vicinity who might fit your Houston Texans.
- With the 67th Pick, The Houston Texans Select Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas Longhorns
We all know how much Houston loves their Texas Longhorns. Pairing the latest quarterback Killer with Charles Omenihu in a J.J. Watt-less defense might just bear solid fruit.
Ossai played at inside linebacker early in his career but has shown far more pro potential as an edge player. He is inexperienced, with one full season in that role, but had 16 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles in nine games during 2020. His testing numbers more resemble a wide receiver (41½-inch vertical, 10 feet, 11 inches in broad jump).
Ossai (pronounced oh-SIGH) was born in Nigeria. His family moved to the United States when he was 10 years old. He worked on his game during high school to become a finalist for the Houston Touchdown Club’s Defensive Player of the Year and a top-150 overall recruit nationally. Ossai started twice as a true freshman in 2018 (20 tackles, one sack), playing in 14 games overall. He began performing like the pass-rush demon Longhorns fans expected him to be in 2019, garnering honorable mention All-Big 12 honors by leading Texas with 90 tackles, 13.5 for loss and five sacks. The 13-game starter also intercepted two passes and was the Defensive MVP of the team’s Alamo Bowl win over Utah. Ossai’s game became a national story in 2020, when he moved to the Jack linebacker position. He was named a first-team Associated Press All-American and first-team all-conference selection. The team captain tied for third in the FBS with 16 tackles for loss and led Texas with 5.5 sacks in nine starts (also posting 55 total stops, two pass breakups, and three forced fumbles). Ossai opted out of the team’s bowl game.
- With the 67th Pick, The Houston Texans Select Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston Cougars
The 6’5 1/2”, 268 pounder wouldn't have to go far if he became a Texan. A monster on the University of Houston roster, the three-year starter had 5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in just 5 games in 2020. The senior has a 35-3/8” arm length and ran the 40 in 4.95 seconds.
He didn’t run the 40 at his pro day due to turf toe, but he posted quality numbers in drills. A three-year starter, Turner had 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in just five games in 2020. He knocked down 10 passes and blocked two kicks during his career.
The Houston product played in 11 games as a reserve in 2017 (14 tackles, two for loss, with one sack, one interception) despite missing most of his senior year at Westside High School due to a knee injury. Turner did start the first 11 games of the 2018 season before suffering a foot injury, collecting more stops (42) but fewer behind the line of scrimmage42 stops (4.5 for loss) while breaking up four passes and blocking a punt. He didn’t make an all-conference team in 2019 but his size and production (34 tackles, eight for loss, with four sacks, four pass breakups in 12 starts) caught the eyes of NFL scouts. American Athletic Conference coaches rectified the situation in 2020, voting him second-team all-conference after he led the Cougars with 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in five games (four starts, 25 total stops). He missed two games, however, with hand and knee injuries and tested positive for COVID-19 in November. Turner accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
- With the 67th Pick, The Houston Texans Select Elijah Molden, Cornerback, Washington Huskies
At 5’ 9-1/2”, Elijah, son of former NFL standout Alex Molden, isn’t exactly the prototype needed for Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense. He does, however, potentially tick the “best available player” box if he’s still on the board at #67. Adding an instant starter with the 67th overall pick would be a win for Nick Caserio.
He’s the closest defensive back on this draft board to the savvy and instincts of Chris Harris Jr. Molden’s football intellect is clear on every snap and he will be able to play in the slot from the moment he arrives.
The son of former Oregon and NFL defensive back Alex Molden was a top-200 overall recruit nationally out of West Linn, Oregon. His brother, Isaiah, was a defensive lineman at Western Oregon. Elijah Molden played in all 13 games as a reserve and on special teams as a true freshman in 2017 (19 tackles, one pass breakup). He earned all-conference status as a sophomore, garnering second-team honors as a special teams ace (also won the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year Award) by making 29 total tackles while also breaking up five passes in 14 games (two starts) on defense. Molden pulled off a rare feat for a cornerback, leading the Huskies with 79 tackles in 13 starts as a junior. He also topped the squad with four interceptions, 13 pass breakups and tied for the team lead with three forced fumbles on his way to first-team All-Pac-12 honors. League coaches voted him to the top squad in 2020, as well (26 tackles, one interception, one pass breakup). He was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is also known as the Academic Heisman.
As with anything, this is all subject to change when the picks start flying on Thursday and Friday nights. For now, which of these players do you think would have the biggest impact on the Texans?