The Houston Texans enter the 2022 NFL Draft with four picks in the first 80 selections and eight picks overall. Houston isn’t expected to pick up any compensatory picks due to their current list of unrestricted free agents, and we can’t assume what they will or won’t receive from trading Deshaun Watson or Laremy Tunsil.
For this mock draft, the general strategy was to fill in positions of need throughout the draft. Personally, I am a fan of double-dipping at positions of value (linebacker, safety, and offensive lineman) while using top picks for game-changers (quarterback, pass rusher, wide receiver, and cornerback). However, the Texans’ needs are everywhere, so focusing on one position group will leave another with a dearth of talent.
Throughout the exercise, I focus on quality, veteran talent at positions of need. Many of these players, except the first pick, are more plug-and-play guys whose raw athleticism and potential is secondary to their experience and current talent. This isn't a draft to roll the dice; rather, the Texans should focus on laying a foundation for future seasons. Call this conservative, but a draft haul of these eight players would be a fantastic result.
Round 1, Pick 3: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
While Evan Neal is the ideal choice here, Thibodeaux is the best player on the board. I do worry that he’s only here due to groupthink, not because of the nation’s due diligence on him. His athleticism is unquestionable, but his technique and pass rush acumen is still in the test tube. Ultimately there have been more developed pass rushers taken this high. If Thibodeaux reaches his potential, we’re talking Von Miller sort of production.
Round 2, Pick 37: Brandon Smith, ILB, Penn State
Right now it’s either Smith or, Lewis Cine, the safety from Georgia, with Houston’s second round pick. The biggest question last year at Penn State was who was going to fill Micah Parsons’ shoes. The answer was Brandon Smith. The former five-star recruit elevated his play each year and has athleticism you wouldn’t believe. Smith takes the prize because of his fit as a coverage linebacker. He will need to work on his arm tackling preference and run fits to start in the NFL.
Round 3, Pick 68: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
With defensive-minded picks the first two rounds, the Texans look to shore up their weaponry on offense. There were multiple options here, so don’t be surprised if a running back such Kyren Williams or a tight end like Alex Pierce from Cincinnati are selected here in future mocks. Wan’Dale is a 5’11’’ stud receiver who simply does everything right. One of those guys who isn’t the biggest, tallest, or fastest, but he simply gets open and gets the job. He’ll fit in at the slot, but can run the full route tree. He would step in and be the most athletic player on the Texans’ roster from day one.
Round 3, Pick 80: Logan Hall, DL, Houston
At 6-6 and 275 pounds, Logan Hall can be the steal of this draft. Long, lean, and creative at the point of attack, Hall is a known pass rush asset. He reminds me of a bigger Marlon Davidson from Auburn, a guy who can play the entire defensive line and can rush the passer, Hall would be an excellent addition to a young and developing interior defensive line group.
(Note: This isn’t a homer pick at all; the kid can play.)
Round 4, Pick 130: Dohnovan West, C, Arizona State
The Texans may have struck gold with Jimmy Morrissey, the UDFA from Pittsburgh, but they need more depth and assurance. West is an athletic and talented offensive lineman who could skyrocket up the draft board if other centers continue to stay for an extra year. West would be another plug-and-play starter on Houston’s offensive line. If West moves up draft boards, I still like addressing the center position here for this team.
Round 6, Pick 183: Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State
When it’s the six round, the best player available is the preferable choice. However, the Texans still need to focus on their secondary. Back-to-back Arizona State players in this draft to boot. Lucas is a good-sized and tough corner who will be an instant special teams contributor.
Round 6, Pick 202: Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, Oklahoma
We are quite early in the draft process, but there’s nothing to hate about Turner-Yell’s game. He’s a seasoned safety who has played three years of quality football at the highest level. Injuries have bugged him throughout his collegiate career, but the biggest issue will be his height (5’11). A strong NFL Combine will solidify his position in the draft.
Round 7, Pick 248: Peyton Hendershot, TE, Indiana
We’ve touched just about every major need for the Texans. Taking a tight end is simply adding another special teams player to the group and another guy to grow with Brevin Jordan. The best player on a bad team, Hendershot ended his collegiate career with four years of production and four touchdowns each of the last three seasons. A good red zone threat, Hendershot would see immediate playing time in a thin tight end group if Jordan Akins leaves.