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2022 NFL Draft: The Texans’ Tank Is Officially On

Houston is almost unanimously expected to have the #1 pick next season.

NFL: MAY 08 National Football League Draft Photo by Rich Kane/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hot on the heels of the 2021 NFL Draft most football sites are overrun with draft grades, player focus pieces, and the inevitable all-too-soon following year mock drafts. Very little shows how the rest of the football world feels a team did in the current year’s draft than how they see the team slotting for the next year. Over at NFL Mock Draft Database, they’ve collected 35 of the 2022 all-too-early mock drafts. Your Houston Texans pick first in nearly 80% of the mocks. Four out of five mockers foresee the Texans having the worst season in 2022. This really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The evidence that new Texans general manager Nick Caserio was purposefully tanking the 2021 season has been everywhere for all to see. With that, let’s take a look at which players the mock drafts have Houston selecting, which is another indictment of the 2021 efforts.

With the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans Select:

  • Spencer Rattler, QB Oklahoma– selected 13 times
  • Sam Howell, QB North Carolina – selected 8 times
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE Oregon – selected 4 times
  • Tyler Shough, QB Texas Tech – selected 2 times

If the 2021 first pick of the Houston Texans, Davis Mills, was an actual quality selection, all these mockers wouldn’t have Houston reaching into the quarterback bag next year, assuming Houston does indeed get the #1 pick. It also speaks volumes about the Deshaun Watson situation. Obviously just about everyone is either convinced Watson will never play for the Texans again at best, or potentially never play in the NFL again at worst.

Historically, the Texans have picked first overall 3 times. The first, in 2002, they selected quarterback David Carr. In 2006, they picked defensive end Mario Williams. And in 2014, the last time they had the top slot, they chose defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Based on history, it would make sense the Texans would choose a quarterback or defensive end with their next #1 overall pick. It would also make sense that if no one actually believes Davis Mills was a smart pick, Houston will grab a quarterback first overall in 2022 (if that’s how the draft order falls).

How Long Can The Houston Texans Fanbase Abide?

Most sports fanbases are broken into 4 categories: the diehards, the passionate, the casual, and the fair-weather. It’s probably a safe bet that the Texans no longer have the support of the fair-weather Texans fans after what team leadership has done to the franchise over the last few years. Just look around as you go about your day to day life. You're probably seeing a lot less Texans gear around town and a lot more from other teams and/or other sports. The number of sudden Dallas Cowboy fans proudly strutting around Houston is a serious indicator.

It’s also probable that a large percentage of the casual fans have either put their fanship on hold or walked away in the midst of recent events. Sports is, after all, supposed to be entertainment. Unless you’re either passionate or a diehard, it’s hard to make excuses for giving up great franchise players for peanuts, alienating the only Hall of Fame caliber quarterback the team has ever had, supporting a team executive who was rightly metaphorically crucified for his actions in the shadows, and then enduring an ugly sex scandal.

The passionate will hang around as long as there’s hope for better days to come, but sooner or later, the fuel of past highlight reels runs out, and so does the passion. Memories of J.J. Watt plucking a pick-six and taking it to the house, DeAndre Hopkins twirling forever against the Dallas Cowboys, and Justin Reid’s 101 yard interception return can only hold passion at steady levels for so long.

The diehards will always support the team, casting aspersions at those who fail to drink the Battle Red Kool Aid. Toxic Positivity wins the day with this crowd. While the Texans’ fanbase is still full of a deeply devoted core of diehard fans, it remains to be seen how long the passionate and casual will support this team. With that in mind, Cal McNair, Jack Easterby, and Nick Caserio are playing a dangerous game by purposely tanking the 2021 season. If they succeed in revitalizing the team with exciting new players in 2022, it’s a win. If they can put the dark days of the O’Brien/Easterby era behind them quickly, fans will forget. Hard to do that with Easterby still on the payroll.

However, if they handle the 2022 draft the way they handled the 2021 draft, the future of the Houston Texans will only darken further. Hopefully, the Texans don’t end up earning the #1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.