In 2021, the Houston Texans cornerback group was up and down throughout the season. Terrance Mitchell played on the outside and had a decent season, but the Texans decided to release him from the team in early March. The other starting outside corner was Desmond King. King was signed to a one-year deal in 2021 and played well enough for the Texans to re-sign King to a two-year contract extension this offseason.
One player who shined in Lovie Smith’s defense was slot cornerback Tavierre Thomas. Not only was Thomas the ninth-highest graded cornerback in all of football, he also had the third-highest run defense grade as a cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus. Thomas is a perfect fit for Lovie Smith’s defense and has Pro Bowl potential.
The Texans decided to start the 2021 season with Lonnie Johnson at safety. Johnson looked decent at times and intercepted three passes, but the Texans ultimately decided to switch Johnson back to outside corner week 12 and it was the right decision. Johnson allowed only 6-receptions for 51-yards and zero touchdowns since returning to his original cornerback position. The potential is there for Johnson if he can stay consistent. The Texans also decided to sign veteran cornerback Steven Nelson to a two-year deal in mid-April.
The Texans are rumored to be seriously considering a cornerback with one of their first-round picks. Here are a few talented prospects that the Texans will heavily consider:
Cornerback Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati)
Sauce Gardner is someone the Texans could very well target with their third-overall pick. Gardner had a “Top 30” visit with the Texans and is a long, physical corner that has the potential to be one of the better cornerbacks in all of football sooner rather than later.
Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU)
Derek Stingley is another player the Texans love and will definitely be in play to be drafted with one of their first-round picks. Stingley has elite athleticism with unreal ball skills and is the “hottest name in this draft” according to NFL Draft Analyst Matt Miller.
Cornerback Tariq Woolen (UTSA)
The Texans recently met virtually with UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen, according to Texans insider Aaron Wilson. Woolen is an extremely interesting prospect that is 6’4” and has elite 4.26 speed. Woolen will likely need time to develop but could turn out to be a special player in the future.
The Texans cornerback group could’ve been more successful with a better pass rush in 2021, but Lovie Smith and Nick Caserio have both stated that they will continue to upgrade at the position. Watch out for Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr in this upcoming draft.