We have ideas. Pure and perfect and beautiful. They are idealizations before everything goes wrong, before entropy, dirty and rotten, rubs himself across the sheets, and spoils something crisp, and white and clean. For after the last few months we have watched college prospects, come up with our guys, and who we want Houston to take once the 2022 NFL Draft begins.
With only three more weeks to go, here is how we would ideally like to see the Texans draft go, based around reasonable selections they can make at both #3 overall, and #13 overall. Here are our responses:
Where the draft is concerned, I am a bit more conventional/conservative. This league is all about the pass and stopping the pass. Do those things, and success will follow. For the collective mock draft, Kyle Hamilton and Travon Walker can work towards that goal.
I would rather they be flipped. I am leery of taking a safety at #3. The top three to five picks are generally for the best quarterback, defensive line, and offensive line prospects. Clearly no quarterback in this class approaches that level based on talent/potential. Someone may overvalue a quarterback, and that quarterback could possibly evolve to play to that level. However, this draft is all about a plethora of top offensive and defensive line prospects at the top of the draft. That would be a reasonable and safe pick to look at a top-level trench player.
A guy like Walker would be fine, but if Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu are available, or Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux, the team should take any of those at #3. I feel like there is better flexibility/value for a Hamilton at #13, or if by some luck, Sauce Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr. are available there, get those guys.
Ultimately, I am not as worried about where a guy is drafted vs. how they do on the field. Draftology is not an exact science, and it is possible that Hamilton becomes the first to make the Hall of Fame while the top trench prospects top out at Just-A-Guy level. But for me, I guess my instinct is to stick with the current wisdom, looking to the trenches for the first pick and then opening the aperture for the second 1st round selection, primarily for more line reinforcements or secondary help.
With the Texans, there is no shortage of areas that need addressing, but the trenches and secondary are the priorities with this draft, taking into account the talent in this year’s draft.
If I was drafting for the Jacksonville Jaguars, I’d take Evan Neal. You just invested big in Trevor Lawrence, so double down and build him a real offensive line. Then, if I was picking for the Detroit Lions, I’d take Malik Willis cause Detroit has been rebuilding since 1957, so why not roll the dice on a boom or bust quarterback prospect? If you misfire, no big deal, it’s not like anyone expects you to actually win, and if you hit a home run, then you can make everyone expect you to win. So, what’s to lose? I mean, NO ONE thought Tom Brady was worth a top five pick and look how that worked out for 30 teams...
That would leave my dream pick for the Houston Texans, Hutchinson, sitting there to spend the next five years trying to fill J.J. Watt’s shoes. After that, I’d try and package a trade for Sauce Gardner. I don’t know what the draft pick value calculator says it’s worth to jump from 13 to 7 or 8, but I’d work on making that happen.
Odds are, neither of these players will wind up in Battle Red, but this is all about wish fulfillment.
Kayvon Thibodeaux at 3, Drake London or Chris Olave at 13.*
*-note that reasonable in this case is defined under Matt’s suggestion of “the player should be available by the time Houston selects,” rather than “players I think the Texans will actually consider.”
You know what I want out of the first two picks for the Texans in the draft? A display of competency by the front office. If Nick Caserio and company package a whole bunch of picks to move up and take someone like, say, Kenny Pickett, I’d lose my mind.
Personally, I love the pairing of Ikey Ekwonu and Jermaine Johnson II at No. 3 and No. 13, respectively. This draft is full of guys who aren’t at all perfect prospects, so focusing on key projectable traits for big picks would be my strategy. The consensus isn’t even in yet on whether Ekwonu will play guard or tackle in the NFL, but anyone who has watched his tape knows that he is an inexorable force in the run game. Johnson only has one college year under his belt as a full-time starter, but his super power is pass rush (go watch the Senior Bowl 1-on-1s), and the Texans need pass rush.
I don’t know what the identity of the Lovie Smith Texans will be yet, but if the team picks up players that we know can improve its ability to run the ball (Ekwonu) and rush the passer (Johnson), I’ll walk away with more confidence that this front office understands what it’s doing, and that the team is moving in the right direction.
If we are being honest with ourselves we know two things going into this season. First, we know that this team will not be competitive in 2022 with the current roster talent. Second, we know that Davis Mills might be a decent placeholder at quarterback, but he is not likely a championship quarterback. Both of those facts set up the Texans picking a quarterback near the top of the 2023 draft. So, from there it becomes a question of we get THAT quarterback to be as successful as possible.
I’ve always been a proponent of building through the trenches. My preferred draft would see us draft two offensive linemen and pair them with Tytus Howard and Laremy Tunsil to be passable at the very worst and good at the very best. I realize picks #3 and #13 might not be the best positions to get the most bang for your buck. I’d prefer Ekwonu to Evan Neal, but I won’t feel terrible if it is Neal. From there I’d like to see them pick Tyler Linderbaum.
Here is where a trade back is likely. Most mocks have him going 20 or later, so taking him at 13 might not be maximum value. if we could get another second or third in addition to him that would be nice. The upshot is that Mills gets more time to throw and when/if you take your stud quarterback in 2023 then at least you can keep him fairly clean.
The second thing that helps a young quarterback is a kick butt defensive that can get him short fields and plenty of time to run more plays. So, if you can’t go offensive line then go defense. There are plenty of defensive linemen and secondary players that fit at those two spots. I’m not a scout or huge college football fan, so I’ll leave the particular guys to the experts, but those are the two directions I’d like to see them choose from.
I’d like to see Kyle Hamilton and an offensive linemen like Tyler Linderbaum. Hamilton is still the best defensive back in this draft regardless of his combine performance, and getting Linderbaum who could easily be the answer at the center position for years to come would be huge. Getting a solid center to work with a young quarterback is key and Linderbaum could be that guy.
This is a very deep edge rusher class in which you could very easily find value in the later rounds. Same goes for wide receiver there is plenty of talent to be found in day two or day three picks, which is why I suggest the Texans grab the center and safety who are far and away better then anyone else at their respective positions on this draft.
I would say grabbing edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at 3 followed by guard Kenyon Green at 13. This would compliment the trenches on both sides of the ball.
Hamilton and Walker aren’t ‘my guys’ per say, but the combination of both could revolutionize the defense. It would certainly be a landmark haul for the team and I don’t think anyone would complain. Both players are in one aspect or another leaders in their position in this draft. But there’s something I just can’t describe that I don’t like about this. Maybe because neither are pure trenches guys, or maybe because Hamilton didn’t play much this past year and Walker was surrounded by elite talent.
My ideal scenario would be Evan Neal at three then trading down with the Pittsburgh Steelers to the 20th pick. Houston would secure a second round pick and most likely a third next year. With the 20th pick, I’m hoping they could grab Trent McDuffie or George Karlaftis. If we stay at 13, Jordan Davis is my guy, and I would be ecstatic to see him in rotation with Roy Lopez and Ross Blacklock.