The Houston Texans are in a clear rebuilding cycle. It feels like the team has finally turned a corner with the signing of DeMeco Ryans, but from a talent perspective there’s a long way to go. It starts with the 2022 Houston Texans draft class. A class bolstered by the trade capital of Deshaun Watson and improved upon by several strong undrafted rookies. This core group will be the foundation of the future Houston Texans.
There’s a lot of good and not so good that came with this class’ first season. A significant amount started or ended the season on injured reserve, but we saw a
Three of the top 10 players with the most defensive snap counts were rookies. That’s Jalen Pitre (2nd), Christian Harris (6th), and Derek Stingley Jr. (9th). In total, this class produced five immediate starters in 2022. If John Metchie is able to play in 2023, that number will rise to six. That’s a fantastic clip for Nick Caserio’s first full-fledged draft class.
Round 1 • Pick 3 (3) • DB Derek Stingley Jr.
Stingley Jr. did not allow a touchdown in his rookie season. However, he only featured in nine games before being put on Injured Reserve due to a hamstring injury. When healthy, he was a strong coverage corner and rarely allows deep balls against him.
Derek Stingley Jr. final rookie season stats:— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) December 18, 2022
• 309 coverage snaps
• 49 targets (33 receptions allowed)
• 414 yards allowed
• 0 TD allowed
The Texans rookie CB was placed on IR yesterday. pic.twitter.com/H576tnE40X
Stingley did get picked on in his first game and through nine games was in the top 10 in yards allowed. While he did let up a lot of yards, he fortunately did not allow a single touchdown against him.
The Texans had so many holes on defense that teams were able to not test the young corner as often and instead pick on other options at will. Though he only played half a season, there is a lot of optimism heading into his second season.
Personally, the decision to draft Stingley over Sauce Garner will haunt this franchise for a decade, but the Texans can go into the next several seasons with the believe they have at least one potential lock down corner.
Round 1 • Pick 15 (15) • OL Kenyon Green
The Texans traded back with their 13th pick and took Green with the 15th pick in the first round. Green had an up and down season. After starting almost every game the first two thirds of the season, Green entered into a rotation at guard with Justin McCray. There were times in the season where Green was the mainstay in the running game, but there were an equal amount of times where he simply looked overwhelmed.
The Washington game was a focal point for his season. He allowed two sacks and five pressures in a game where the Texans offense could not get anything started.
Green has all of the talent in the world. While the center position is a primary weakness on this team, Green’s first round draft position necessitates better performance in his second season.
Round 2 • Pick 5 (37) • DB Jalen Pitre
Another player with a roller coaster season. Out the gate Pitre felt like the most talented player on a surprisingly stout defense. He was both the fastest and hardest hitter we had on the roster.
However, Pitre was benched midway through the season due to a lack of consistency and poor tackling form. He turned things around during the Browns game and finished the season off strong. He is a dominant player when feeling confident, but has the capacity to be lazy in his form and reads. Pitre was also fined by the league with an unnecessary roughness call against the Chiefs.
Giving Pitre more support will provide consistency and knowledge that he can build and grow from must be a top priority this offseason. If the Texans are able to draft another safety in the first two rounds this upcoming April, it will give Pitre a running mate and stable ally in the secondary.
Round 2 • Pick 12 (44) • WR John Metchie III
Certainly a heartbreaking story. When the Texans traded up in the draft to select Metchie III, giving away their third and two fourth round picks, there was immediate excitement surrounding a wide receiver core with Metchie, Nico Collins, and a happy Brandin Cooks. That never came to fruition. It may not ever come to be, but until we hear more about Metchie’s health, we’ll hope for all the best for the young athlete.
Round 3 • Pick 11 (75) • LB Christian Harris
Harris started the season off on the injured reserve list. It’s never great to see a player not get those first snaps of his career or miss out on training camp; it’s like missing the starting blocks in an olympic sprint. Even with the team being so positive on him, there was skepticism into what his role may encompass. That was immediately resolved upon his return; he instantly took the starting role. So much so Kamu Grugier-Hill asked to leave the team to go play somewhere else.
Harris’ instant impact on the team was a welcomed boost. He was able to log the fifth most tackles for the team while only playing 12 games this season. He desperately needs to improve his ability to sift through blockers, trust his reads, and not get cut off during the run game. As a third round pick, you love to see the instant start. 2023 could be a breakout.
Round 4 • Pick 2 (107) • RB Dameon Pierce
Pierce was 61 yards shy of breaking the 1,000 yard mark, which alone would have given him an A. He would have been the first player since Carlos Hyde in 2016 to accomplish such a feat. Pierce also ended the season on IR, ending the most positive story of the Texans 2022 season.
In my film review back in July, it was clear his running style and aggression translated extremely well at the NFL level. From the bull dozing runs to the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, this
He has been the best Day Three pick for the Texans since D.J. Reader in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Texans should do their due diligence and select another mid-round draft pick to complement Pierce and provide another back to balance the workload with.
Round 5 • Pick 7 (150) • DT Thomas Booker
Getting outplayed by an undrafted rookie is not a good sign. Undrafted rookie Kirk Hinish played 20% more snaps than the fifth rounder Booker. Booker was the fourth defensive tackle in the rotation and struggled against the run. He missed some time mid-season with an injury that limited his play and snaps. He will be one of DeMeco Ryans top projects to develop in the coach’s first yer in the building.
Round 5 • Pick 27 (170) • TE Teagan Quitoriano
Quitoriano also started the season on IR and did not see playing time until Week Nine where he recorded one catch for a touchdown.
Teagan Quitoriano's first career catch and IT'S A TD— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) November 4, 2022
He emerged as a short yardage threat down the end of the season and capped off his rookie campaign with an excellent performance against the Colts. He recorded three catches for 83 yards to help lead the Texans over the Colts (thanks a lot...).
Quitoriano will enter the offseason in a complex tight end room that does not have a sustained leader. The Texans’ veteran options O.J. Howard and Jordan Akins are both free agents. Combined with Brevin Jordan’s lack of development, Quitoriano could wind up being the starting tight end come training camp.
Round 6 • Pick 27 (205) • OL Austin Deculus
Deculus suffered an ankle injury early in the season that sidelined him for most of the year. It’s extremely hard to grade someone this late who made the roster and contributed on special teams. Ultimately Deculus will find himself battling for one of the guard spots this offseason. Charlie Heck is in front of him in the tackle depth chart, so if Deculus wants a starting spot it will have to come in the interior. Hopefully there’s more to come from this LSU prospect, but for
OVERALL GRADE: B-
There’s a lot to work with in this class. A great deal of immediate starters combined with several depth pieces is really all you can ask for. What this team needs is stars and contributors. This class feels like a foundational piece from the standpoint that we should get a lot of productivity for years to come from this class rather than multiple Pro Bowlers. A new coach and offensive system will change the trajectory of this class, but for the most part it was a good-is year for the younglings.