Last year’s draft will look quite similar to the 2023 version; Texans enter with two firsts, a second, two third round picks, and a ton of ammunition in the backend of the draft.
Leading into the 2022 draft felt like the organization was grabbing a hold of the secondary parachute to end a three-year free-fall of poor decisions. New blood and direction, but just the first step in a long road ahead.
Back in early February 2022, I built out a seven-round mock draft for the Texans that included a trade back from the 13th pick. Suffice to say it makes this review all the more difficult, but it’s a valuable process to understand what the Texans may do in their upcoming draft.
Round 1, Pick 3: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
WHERE HE WENT: Round 1, Pick 9 (New York Giants)
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Derek Stingley Jr. CB - LSU
ANALYSIS: Neal contributed to an improved Giants’ offensive line, but struggled down the stretch at right tackle. Andrew Thomas was the keystone in the Giants’ offensive resurgence at Neal’s ideal position of left tackle. While Neal started every game he played in, he did miss four games mid season, but outside of that was a lock in starter on the Giants’ roster.
Stingley was also a day-one starter, but his injury plagued season limited his contribution. He also was definitely a source of opponents yardage. He was in the top 10 in yards allowed before he went on IR.
Depending on what happens with Laremy Tunsil, Neal and Stingley argument will continue to brew within Texans circles.
Round 1, Pick 13: TRADE: Greenbay Packers
- PREDICTED TRADE: Trade package: Texans Trade 2022 13th pick, 4th round pick (108) to Packers for 22nd overall pick, 2nd round pick (59), and 2023 3rd round pick
- Actual trade: Texans trade 2022 13th pick to the Eagles for the 15th pick, 124th overall pick (4th round), 162nd overall pick (5th round), and the 166th overall pick (5th round)
EAGLES PICKED: Jordan Davis, DT - Georgia
WHO TEXANS PICKED: Kenyon Green, OL Texas A&M,
ANALYSIS: The Texans used the 124th pick in a trade for John Metchie III, used the 162nd pick in a trade for Christian Harris, and the 166th in a trade for Thomas Booker. Honestly, it’s a fantastic concept. The Texans moved back two spots and used every pick they received as capital to move up throughout the draft. It’s result?
- The worst graded guard in the league
- A WR who unfortunately wasn’t able to play
- A LB who was overwhelmed in his starting role, after he started the season on IR
- A DT who sat behind an undrafted rookie
The fruits of a good idea are not always sweet.
(Projected Trade) Round 1, Pick 22: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
WHERE HE WENT: Round 1, Pick 12 (Detroit Lions)
ANALYSIS: Williams would have been the odds-on best receiver when he would have returned from IR if he was on the Texans. His introduction to the Lions’ offense added a missing piece and almost lifted them to the playoffs. Between Neal and Williams, that would have made for a fantastic first round. Alas.
Round 2, Pick 37: Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
WHERE HE WENT: Round 2, Pick 42 (Minnesota Vikings)
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Jalen Pitre, S - Baylor
ANALYSIS: At least we were close, right? Pitre was an instant impact player on the Texans. Booth’s career has sputtered out of the gate as he was injured or a backup for most the season. He ended the year on injured reserve. While Pitre had his own tribulations, Pitre’s ceiling is much higher and ability to make an impact on the league moving forward appears to be greater.
(From Projected Trade) Round 2, Pick 59 : Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma
WHERE HE WENT: Round 4, Pick 108 (Cleveland Browns)
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Technically, this was John Metchie III, WR - Alabama
ANALYSIS: Winfrey was one of my personal favorite defensive tackles in this draft class. He was everything Ross Blacklock was supposed to grow into. A thicker, more aggressive, more system agnostic version. Winfrey was a rotational piece on a deep Packers defensive line. Considering how late he went, it’s a great get for the Packers in the 4th round, but would be disappointing as a second round pick.
Metchie is expected to return to the team in April, which would be a fantastic story. He will left the offense in ways we have honestly never had. He’s got a great skill set, but we just need to see him take the field.
Round 3, Pick 68: James Cook, RB, Georgia
WHERE HE WENT: Round 2, Pick 63 (Buffalo Bills)
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Traded to move up and select John Metchie III, WR - Alabama
ANALYSIS: The Texans traded this pick to the Browns who selected Martin Emerson, CB Mississippi State. The team went up to get their wide receiver of the future. It unfortunately did not go as well as planned. For the Bills’ James Cook was a late blooming asset as a running back. He will be one of their top backs this year but I’d take Dameon Pierce every time.
Round 3, Pick 80: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
WHERE HE WENT: Round 3, Pick 97 (Detroit Lions)
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Traded to move up and select Christian Harris, LB - Alabama at 75
ANALYSIS: The Lions hit this pick out of the park. Illinois is producing talent at the DB position at a clip along with the best in the college ranks.
This is certainly a complex draft to re-remember. When the Texans moved up in consecutive picks in the draft, there was a great sense of a determined resolve. The team had a sense of direction and will. It’s yet to be determined if Harris can turn around a tumultuous first season, but I would have loved to see a Mitre-Joseph secondary in Battle Red.
Round 4, Pick 107: Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
WHERE HE WENT: Round 2, Pick 58 (Atlanta Falcons)
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Dameon Pierce, RB - Florida
ANALYSIS: Andersen was a contributor in a fairly porous Falcons secondary. Pierce on the other hand was the only bright spot on the Texans offense. Without Pierce, the Texans would have been the worst offense in NFL history bar-none. His demeanor and tenacity are well covered. I do suspect the team will draft another RB around this time in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Round 4, Pick 108 (Traded away in proposed Packers trade)
Round 5, Pick 150 TRADE: Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin
- Texans package two of their three sixth round picks to move up in the draft. They trade the 183rd pick and 207th pick for the 150th pick (Bears) and a seventh in 2023.
WHERE HE WENT: Round 4, Pick 129 (Dallas Cowboys)
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Thomas Booker, DL - Stanford
ANALYSIS: Booker was fairly disappointing in his first season. Considered an intelligent ‘tweener’ prospect (i.e, he could be both a defensive tackle and/or end), Booker failed to break into the Texans starting rotation. Even worse, he was passed up by an undrafted rookie. Bookers is one of the top prospects DeMeco needs to develop this offseason.
Round 6, Pick 205: Jermaine Waller, CB, Virginia Tech
WHERE HE WENT: Undrafted and retired
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: Austin Deculus, OT - LSU
ANALYSIS: Deculus made the roster and was a contributor on special teams. He was stuck behind several higher quality backups such as Charlie Heck. He will potentially move to guard this offseason if he plans to make the roster. All in all, I’ll take Deculus over a player who has hung up his cleats.
Round 7, Pick 245: Ben Brown, C/OG, Ole Miss
WHERE HE WENT: Undrafted and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals
ACTUAL TEXANS PICK: N/A
ANALYSIS: The Texans traded this pick and their 183rd pick (6th round) to move into the fifth round in a trade with the Patriots. Ben Brown is currently with the Bengals as a backup center.
Overall, the Texans didn’t take a single players of my choosing. They haven’t in years. Is that my fault? No. Would the be better if they did listen to me? Sure. Right now I’d prefer Jameson Williams and Evan Neal over Stingley and Kenyon Green. In several years? Who knows. All I know is the Texans could do worse than end up with players in my most recent mock drafts.