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2022 NFL Mock Draft Whiparound

Which players do the national media see the Houston Texans taking?

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NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As many of you may have noticed by now it’s draft season; a magical time where the possibilities are endless, hope springs anew, and we inevitably march toward that last weekend in April where we find ourselves really happy or really upset at who our favorite teams have picked.

Opinions flow like water this time of year and while we may have our own preferences about who the Texans will take this year, it’s always useful (I won’t say good) to see which players national media outlets, who watch one, maybe one and a half, Texans games and pretend to be experts, expect our favorite team to take.

Unlike the past few years, not only do the Texans have a first round pick, they have two first rounders, thanks to a player whose name I’d just as soon forget existed. In fact, the Texans have a full 11 draft picks to play with this year. There’s a lot of potential with that kind of draft capital, especially if Nick Caserio manages to put together a good, let alone great, draft class this year.

Those picks are as follows:

First Round (3, 13)
Second Round (37)
Third Round (68, 80)
Fourth Round (107, 108)
Sixth Round (183, 205, 207)
Seventh Round (245)

Still that leaves the question, what will the Texans do with all those picks? Revamp the defense? Give Davis Mills some weapons or an offensive line to keep him off the turf? Spend it all on blackjack and blow? The possibilities are endless!

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at which players the Texans have been mocked with.

ESPN

Let’s check out who Jordan Reid says the Texans will take:

1-(3): Evan Neal - OT, Alabama

With arguably the worst roster in the NFL right now, the Texans are in a position to accumulate as much talent at premium positions as possible. Neal is a high-floor player who can play immediately and bolster an offensive line that already includes Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard.

1-(13): Jordan Davis - DT, Georgia

At 6-foot-6, 341 pounds, Davis is a wide-bodied interior defender with unheard-of physical tools at that size. I projected offensive tackle Evan Neal to Houston with its first pick, and general manager Nick Caserio could keep building up the trenches by selecting Davis.

Three-down value will be a big factor for Davis’ draft range, but he has the potential to up his production. His presence impacts the 10 other players on the field with him, even if it doesn’t always show up in the box score.

2-(37): Kyler Gordon - CB, Washington

The Texans have to keep taking the best prospect available. Gordon would add competition in the corner room alongside Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Desmond King II.

3-(68): Kenneth Walker III - RB, Michigan State

With 11 picks in the draft, the Texans should stockpile talent, and this is a pick for the best prospect left on the board. Walker is a stocky rusher and natural tackle-breaker — he forced 85 missed tackles last season — who would add some playmaking in the backfield behind quarterback Davis Mills.

3-(80): Khalil Shakir - WR, Boise State

Shakir has quietly had an impressive pre-draft process. From the Senior Bowl to the combine, he has proved to be one of the most consistent wideouts in this class. He’s the type of prospect Houston should covet.

4-(107): Tyreke Smith - DE, Ohio State

4-(108): Verone McKinley III - S, Oregon

6-(183): Ja’Tyre Carter - G, Southern

6-(205): Derion Kendrick - CB, Georgia

6-(207): Tay Martin, WR - Oklahoma State

7-(245): Connor Heyward - TE/FB, Michigan State

Looks like a fairly balanced draft. Three secondary players, two linesman on offense and defense, a pair of receivers, and the entire Michigan State running game.

Now, we go live to CBS Sports and Josh Edwards’ seven round mock:

CBS Sports

1-(3): Ikem Ekwonu - OL, NC State

Ekwonu is probably capable of playing all five positions along the offensive line. He could play guard or right tackle for a year before taking over for Laremy Tunsil if that is the route the franchise elects to go. Regardless, there is no harm in building a strong offensive line that is capable of protecting Davis Mills and giving him an opportunity to show his potential in 2022.

1-(13): Jordan Davis - DL, Georgia

Houston needs to add talent and, although investing in a nose tackle to start a rebuild has not exactly worked out for Carolina, teams are not going to go broke taking a profit. Davis is a good football player and fills an immediate need for an improved run defense.

2-(37): Kaiir Elam - CB, Florida

3-(68): Skyy Moore - WR, Western Michigan

3-(80): Nick Cross - S, Maryland

4-(107): Zach Tom - OL, Wake Forest

4-(108): Dominique Robinson - EDGE, Miami (Ohio)

6-(183): Ty Davis-Price - RB, LSU

6-(205): James Mitchell - TE, Virginia Tech

6-(207): David Anenih - EDGE, Houston

7-(245): Kyron Johnson, LB, Kansas

Looks like CBS Sports is heavily investing on the defensive side of the ball for the Texans; trying to revive the once great defense the team had before Bill O’Brien decided defense was for suckers.

Next up, The Sporting News

Sporting News

1-(3): Evan Neal - OT, Alabama

The Texans are holding on to Laremy Tunsil for left tackle but now they can look at Neal to dominate the right side and provide powerful bookends for Davis Mills or whoever is their starting quarterback in 2022. They have a big void at the other tackle and Neal can flip a massive weakness into a big strength.

Someone’s not a believer in Tytus Howard.

1-(13): Jermaine Johnson II - EDGE, Florida State

The Texans got a strong season from Jonathan Greenard but are pretty weak getting to the quarterback from the outside otherwise. Johnson has been rising fast because of some freakish qualities and has the potential to give them their new J.J. Watt playing end in Lovie Smith’s 4-3.

2-(37): Kaiir Elam - CB, Florida

The Texans need help on the back end of their defense with some size, aggressiveness and physicality in coverage. Elam would fit the need nicely for Lovie Smith and is sometimes explosive in making plays on the ball.

3-(68): James Cook - RB, Georgia

The Texans cannot go into the season with Rex Burkhead as their lead back. Georgia has been a factory for top-flight backs and Cook may not be a natural workhorse like his older brother Dalvin, but he has share of explosive qualities.

::points to Marlon Mack signing, but whatever::

3-(80): David Bell - WR, Purdue

The Texans still have the combination of Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins but could use to further boost their strength and big-play ability at the position, which Bell can provide.

4-(107): Thayer Munford Jr. - G, Ohio State

4-(108): Darrian Beavers - LB, Cincinnati

6-(183): Otito Ogbonnia - DT, UCLA

6-(205): LaBryan Ray - DT/DE, Alabama

6-(207): Dontario Drummond - WR, Ole Miss

7-(245): Skylar Thompson - QB, Kansas State

So far, the unifying theme of these drafts is that these mockers have given the Texans help on the offensive and defensive lines with their first rounders, which makes sense since they need help there. Well...everywhere, really, but particularly there.

On to Dane Brugler and The Athletic

The Athletic

1-(3): Ikem Ekwonu - OT/G, NC State

Houston is wide open at this spot. Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner would not be a surprise here. A pass rusher like Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux will be part of the discussion. But the idea of fortifying the offensive line with the top blocker on the board feels like the most realistic option. The bigger question might be, which offensive lineman?

1-(13): Jermaine Johnson II - EDGE, Florida State

The Texans might go pass rusher at No. 3 overall, but in this scenario they opt for the offensive lineman and still land one of the draft’s better edge rushers at No. 13. Johnson has the length, agility and active hands to be disruptive as both a pass rusher and run defender.

2-(37): George Pickens - WR, Georgia

Breece Hall is in the discussion for the Texans at 37. So are Kyler Gordon and a few others. But the idea of adding a down-the-road No. 1 target in George Pickens will be appealing to the Texans’ decision-makers. At 6-3 and 195 pounds with 4.4 speed, Pickens has the athletic profile and ball skills to eventually develop into the Texans’ go-to target.

3-(68): DeMarvin Leal - DL, Texas A&M

3-(80): Channing Tindall - LB, Georgia

4-(107): Bailey Zappe - QB, Western Kentucky

4-(108): Cade Otton - TE, Washington

6-(205): Chase Lucas - CB, Arizona State

6-(207): Hassan Haskins - RB, Michigan

7-(245): Vederian Lowe - OT, Illinois

There are a few Illinois prospects with a chance to be drafted, and it wouldn’t be surprising if their former college coach Lovie Smith looked to work with them again in Houston. Vederian Lowe started 52 games in his college career at tackle and should compete for a backup role in his rookie season.

And rounding out this week’s tour is Ian Cummings with the Pro Football Network

Pro Football Network

1-(3): Evan Neal - OT, Alabama

It’s certainly a close race for OT1 between Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu, but we sometimes gloss over just how good Neal is. For his size, he’s an incredibly smooth pass protector, with incredibly efficient motion and calculated hands. He also knows when to unleash his monstrous raw power and athleticism, particularly in the running game, where he can pave open lanes. If the Texans are going to run with Davis Mills, giving him a right tackle like Neal is the move to make.

1-(13): Chris Olave - WR, Ohio State

If Mills is going to work out long-term at the quarterback position for the Texans, then mere protection isn’t good enough. The Stanford product also needs weapons. And in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, he’s getting them. Chris Olave is one of the top receivers on the board, and he offers a nice contrast from size threats like Nico Collins and Chris Conley. Olave is a smooth, efficient route runner who can splice into open zones with explosiveness and throttle control. And when the ball comes his way, he’s an expert at tracking it.

2-(37): Boye Mafe - EDGE, Minnesota

Few edge rushers in the 2022 NFL Draft have the complete physical profile that Boye Mafe has. Mafe is around 6’4″, 261 pounds, with 4.53 speed, a 38″ vertical, and a 125″ broad. He has elite explosiveness and great bend, and he also has the strength to maximize his hand usage.

3-(68): Kerby Joseph - S, Illinois

A rangy playmaker with outstanding length and closing speed in space.

Gee, a secondary player from Illinois drafted by Lovie Smith’s Texans. Who would have guessed it?

3-(80): Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA

A generational athlete with outrageous length and explosiveness but needs coaching.

4-(107): Brian Asamoah - LB, Oklahoma

4-(108): Dameon Pierce - RB, Florida

6-(183): Esezi Otomewo - DL, Minnesota

6-(205): Tay Martin - WR, Oklahoma State

6-(207): Cole Turner - TE, Nevada

7-(245): Jason Poe - OL, Mercer

Cummings bucks the trend of OL/DL in the first round and gives the Texans a receiver for Mills to throw to with our second first round pick. Interesting. Makes sense.

Anyway, that’s it. Have at it, what do y’all make of the drafts set up for us by these outfits? Let it be known in the comments below.