Houston currently possesses 12 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. While this is the first post-Pathers’ trade mock, it does not change who I believe the Texans will select with the second pick.
In this mock, there are no trades. We are only taking into account the recent free agent moves as of March 19th. Houston’s biggest needs include QB, EDGE, Center, CB, LB, and Tight End.
My strategy is to select players at positions of need and fill in the gaps with players the Texans have reportedly met with previously. Houston will certainly be in a ‘best player available’ mindset, but when push comes to shove they need to rebuild the offense completely and surround their new QB with as much talent and support as they can.
Round 1, Pick 2 overall: CJ Stroud, QB - Ohio State
Stroud is the odds-on choice to be the Panthers’ first pick in the draft, but I believe come draft time they’ll opt for Bryce Young. The current tea leaves predict the Carolina moved up to secure the pick now, rather than them having a player in mind at the moment.
Stroud would deliver Houston a much needed leader and incredible passer of the ball. He can make almost any throw and doesn’t come with the physical worries of Young.
Round 1, Pick 12 overall (from CLE): Myles Murphy, DE - Clemson
Murphy was a top 10 pick before the NFL Combine. Now his stock has fallen into the mid-first round, but some have him falling into the second. He’s a head above the next tier of defensive ends and is tailored towards a 4-3 defensive end scheme.
Houston has not made many defensive end additions in free agency, suggesting they will be in the market come draft day. Selecting a top-tier and well-rounded prospect in Murphy will inject talent into a premium position group.
Round 2, Pick 33 overall: Jalin Hyatt, WR - Tennessee
Hyatt’s stock jumped in the pre-NFL Combine process, but has fallen back to earth after a further evaluation into his route tree. He is a pure deep-threat with extremely great turnover and knack for stacking defenders behind him on routes. He needs to work on masking his route; it’s quite obvious when he’s going deep, but it’s quite hard to stop him.
Hyatt fits the Texans’ WR locker room. Houston has a lot of possession receivers, but no one who stretches the field and truly scares defenses. Hyatt is a great complimentary X-factor who opens up the rest of the offense rather than a pure WR1.
Round 3, Pick 65 overall: Joe Tippman, OC - Wisconsin
With QB and WR already selected, the biggest remaining gap on the offense is at center. Joe Tippman is a massive center, standing at 6’6, 313 pounds, he is scheme-versatile and able to play at guard too. He is a center prospect who would make everyone around him look better. While he didn't compete at the NFL Combine, he’s in line to be available in the third round as there’s a ton of other Big 10 centers in this year’s draft.
Also, look at that mullet. My lord we need that.
Round 3, Pick 73 overall (from CLE): Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB - TCU
At 5’8, Hodges-Tomlinson is only destined to be a nickel corner. Houston will have to fit the scheme and competition to him rather than him being able to guard anyone, anywhere. He’s not going to be a three-down corner at his size, but given the right defensive responsibilities and matchups, he will be a fantastic addition on the roster. Placing him in rotation with Desmond King II will allow the Texans to matchup better in the secondary.
Round 4, Pick 104 overall: Tank Bigsby, RB - Auburn
This pick is extremely difficult. Nick Caserio will be shaking in his boots after hiring a defensive-minded coach and picking four offensive players in the first six picks. However, this pick rounds out the offense and makes you feel extremely comfortable heading into the next three seasons at the RB position. I would not be surprised if the Texans go linebacker here, particularly Demarvion Overshown from Texas.
They select Tank Bigsby to add another tough and experienced running back to the mix. This pick would be more of the same when paired with Dameon Pierce, but the combined backfield would make for a punishing combination. Bigsby has real upside if he’s available in the fourth round and would provide Houston with a second all-purpose running back option.
Round 5, Pick 161 (from DAL): Rashad Torrence, S - Florida
Torrence has reportedly met with the Houston Texans at the NFL Combine; one of only two teams. Though I would not be surprised if the Texans trade up as there’s a 60+ pick gap between this pick and the early 4th rounder. With five picks left, I can’t imagine the Texans not consolidating and going after a player falling in the draft. For this draft’s purposes, we’ll stick with a talented safety who didn’t perform well at the NFL Combine.
Round 6, Pick 179 overall: Jeremy Banks, LB - Tennessee
Now we’re getting into the back end of the draft. These picks likely won't happen based on Nick Caserio’s use of late-round picks as trade capital last year. Even so, this no-trade mock will force us to find new names.
One of those new names is Jeremy Banks, the talented but troubled linebacker from Tennessee. After being dismissed from the Vols in 2019, the linebacker has slowly worked his way back onto the team. He had another incident this past season with QB Hendon Hooker.
If the Texans can improve Banks’ off the field and locker room antics, he would be a good special teams asset and nickel/linebacker prospect with extremely great athleticism compared to his size.
Round 6, Pick 188 overall (from NYG): Chandler Zavala, OG - North Carolina State
Zavala’s East-West Shrine Bowl performance earns him a draft pick and a spot on the Texans offensive line. Houston already answered their short-term need at guard with Shaq Mason, but Zavala would become the backup guard on the roster.
Round 6, Pick 201 overall (from MIN): Mohamoud Diabate, DE - Utah
A four-year contributor at both Florida and Utah, the scrawny linebacker/end has potential but needs to be in the weight room for the foreseeable future. According to NFL Draft Buzz, he’s in the 89th percentile for height, but 12th percentile in weight. Adding muscle in an NFL weight room plus given time to develop will help turn a raw athlete into a rotational player, in time.
Houston doubled down at DE in an effort to get younger at the position and provide a real lottery ticket piece to the group.
Round 6, Pick 203 overall (from SF): Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB - UCLA
A former five-star QB who never truly reached his potential, DTR will be brought in to support the Texans’ new QB in developing. He will also be a quality practice squad player to mimic the highly mobile QBs in the AFC. I’m extremely found of this selection for the pure value it provides. If he pans out to be anything of value, he is either a high quality backup who has similar traits to Stroud and can operate the offensive similarly or becomes trade bait to a desperate team. If the Texans do have this many picks, which I doubt, doubling down on the future of the QB position makes a ton of sense.
Round 7, Pick 259 overall: Brenton Strange - TE, Penn State
Less sexy than picking Brock Purdy, but Strange will be a last-pick due to his ability to play as an in-line tight end. At 6’3 - 6’4, he’s a sizable tight end who can help lock down the offensive line in run situations.
Mr. Irrelevent lands in Houston.
And there we have it. Houston’s 2023 NFL Draft lands them with an entirely new core of offensive weapons and several high-ceiling defensive players. Houston will most likely use the boatload of late-round picks to move up in the draft. If that’s the case, I can see them going after many of the same skill positions to get players high on their board.