With only one game left in this miserable season, it’s finally about time to lock in on the 2022 offseason. You know, that place where hope still exists. From the looks of things, as long as Houston doesn’t pull another upset on the AFC’s top seed Tennessee Titans, the #3 pick in the draft will be ours.
2022 NFL Draft Order
Projected order for the April NFL Draft heading into the final week of the regular season: pic.twitter.com/nx0uETt20O— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 3, 2022
We should all expect Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux to go first and second. Whether the Glitter Kitties take Thibodeaux or Hutch, they’d be stupid not to take one of them, since both are widely considered as the best talent in this year’s draft.
That leaves the Texans with either Derek Stingley Jr., a player with as many question marks around him as D.J. Swearinger; Kyle Hamilton - a shutdown safety; or possibly one of the multitude of quarterbacks. If it were me, I’d take a hard look at Hamilton over Stingley all day. Houston could also look at Ikem Ekwonu, the OT from NC State. Or Evan Neal, the OT from Alabama.
PFF's top DBs in the NFL Draft— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) January 3, 2022
1. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
2. Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Stingley just might be the best all-around athlete in this class. At The Opening event in high school, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound corner posted a 4.3-second 40-yard dash and 42.0-inch vertical.
Stingley earned a 91.7 PFF grade as a true freshman back in 2019, allowing a minuscule 38% catch rate and combining for 21 interceptions plus pass breakups — still one of the most impressive single-season performances of the PFF era.
Unfortunately, he’s played only 289 coverage snaps over the last two years due to injury, but he still performed admirably, allowing less than 1.00 yard per coverage snap over that span.
Hamilton is one of the draft class’ most explosive athletes. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound safety boasts a 42-inch vertical and pairs his physical skill set with great eyes in coverage. He has totaled 22 combined pass breakups and interceptions in his three-year college career, and only five Power Five safeties have recorded more than 15 over that span.
Hamilton should be in the cards for every team that has a top-five selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, whether they need a safety or not.
Imagine Hamilton and Justin Reid (if he stays; if not, Hamilton would certainly bolster the safety room in Reid’s absence) holding down the back end of Houston’s defense.
Since I had Kyle Hamilton on Mock Draft Monday, here’s a thread of a few things that makes the Atlanta native so special:pic.twitter.com/wam9iElfnu— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) December 20, 2021
However, as great as Hamilton might become, without a clear cut #1 quarterback in the pool and both of the franchise pass rushers off the board, Houston’s best move is most likely to trade back and collect more picks for Nick Caserio to continue his roster rebuild. Now, the notion that Caserio shouldn’t be rebuilding a roster without a quality head coach in place - you know, the person whose scheme the general manager needs to use as a template for type of player to target - casts a shadow over all this.
Bringing David Culley back for another season is just an unheralded announcement that the team is committed to sucking for at least one more season. If they do keep Culley, does Caserio look to offensive and defensive coordinators Tim Kelly and Lovie Smith for roster shopping lists?
Maybe. Those two would certainly know better than Culley.
But that’s a topic for another day.