After the NFL Combine, the Houston Texans have a clearer picture of the talent and capabilities of their top prospect. The performances across the board from the top QBs should make GM Nick Caserio and company feel confident in finding their QB of the future at the second pick. Even the chaos with Jalen Carter should not force the Texans’ hand early in the draft.
With their full complement of picks, the Texans are in a place to move around in the draft. This draft presents a unique tier of talent. Picks 1-15 are fairly elite. Picks 16-45 are fairly strong, but then after say pick 75, there isn’t much talent to be had. The Texans objective will be to maximize their chances within that first 75 picks before the talent drops off.
In this draft, the Texans make two moves; one trade down and one trade up. It makes for an exciting two days in April that we would all be happy to see.
Round 1, Pick 02: CJ Stroud, QB - Ohio State
I still predict that the Colts will trade up to the first pick in the draft to secure Bryce Young. Especially with the Jalen Carter news, the Bears will be looking to move back in the draft and assemble as much capital as they can.
CJ Stroud said it himself, he’d most likely won the Heisman Trophy either of the past two seasons if he beat Michigan once. Stroud is an imposing QB at 6’3” and possesses Joe Burrow balance of arm talent, knowledge of the game, poise, winning mentality, and capable mobility.
Stroud’s offense at Ohio State racked up incredible numbers: 85 TDs to 12 INTs should be enough, but add on the fact his passer rate was #4 all time in the NCAA is incredible. He put up statistically phenomenal numbers and the Texans should feel confident in not needing to trade up for the first overall pick.
TRADE: 12 pick and 203 to New England for 14 and 76. New England takes Brian Branch, CB/Nickel - Alabama
If Devon Witherspoon is on the board, which honestly is about a 30% chance, the Texans should not do this trade. However, in my most recent mock drafts, both Brian Branch and Devon Witherspoon are still on the board. Full first round picks in this simulation down below.
In this instance, there’s so much quality on the board and the potential to move back two picks and acquire a third round pick is too much to pass up.
Pick 14: Jordan Addison, WR - USC
Unfortunately, Devon Witherspoon was taken directly after and the Texans lose out on their ability to nab the highest ceiling CB in the draft. However, the Texans do get their pick of the receivers at this point, and they take WR Jordan Addison over Quentin Johnson. Addison will be a better fit for Stroud’s offense than Johnson, even though Johnson out-performed Addison throughout the weekend. He will be able to play all over the field and can dominate defenders with his smooth operating down the field.
Addison is not an imposing presence; at 5’11’’, 173 pounds, he is going to need to learn to fend off physical corners. What he lacks in size he gains in productivity and consistency.
While Addison may be still on the board by pick 20, Addison is an immediate difference maker on the Texans offense. If combined with John Metchie III and Nico Collins, it makes for a strong, young corps of receivers.
Pick 33: Nolan Smith, LB/DE - Georgia
No other player received more hype from social media - or his own teammates - than Nolan Smith. The defensive end was a leader on the two-time National Champion Georgia Bulldogs and possesses the upside to be an off-the-ball pass rusher at the next level.
While his NFL Combine performance wowed executives and pundits. His current injury history and size don’t push him into the first round. There are too many well-rounded pass rushers before Smith and he is too small to go inside. Teams will pass on Smith for players who are more obvious scheme fits.
He isn’t going to be an imposing defensive end. If the Texans do want that skillset, they should get Will McDonald IV instead, which was the original pick before Smith’s impressive NFL Combine performance. However, Smith’s physical traits make him a fantastic choice to kick off day two of the draft for Houston. It will be up to DeMeco Ryans to coach up the linebacker to fit into a system that will be 4-3 in nature and not an immediate fit for Smith’s size, but perfect for his growth under Ryans.
TRADE: Texans trade picks 64, 104 to pick 54
Pick 54: Texans pick John Michael-Schmitz, C - Minnesota
Boom, baby! The Texans get their center of the future and mortgage their fourth round pick to move up from early in the third round to the middle of the second round.
Houston has now given their new signal caller a top-flight weapon and now captain of the offensive line for the next decade. JMS is the top center prospect on the board and a great fit within a zone scheme. He can also play guard, which can be an added bonus in a secondary position of need. What the biggest concern is his age and seasoning; he is already 23 and was a sixth-year senior this past season. That level of seniority will make any player stand out against teenagers.
The 6’3” center is an intelligent and well-versed player who would step in and immediately be the starting center on the offensive line. As Houston’s fourth pick, the center position not only makes sense here, it helps anchor a new offensive line.
This pick would require Michael-Schmitz to fall a bit in the draft, but based on a sub-prime NFL Combine performance it could be well in the cards.
Round 3, Pick 74: Jammie Robinson, S - Florida State and South Carolina
The picks keep rolling in for Houston. Jammie Robinson is the ideal safety to pair with Jalen Pitre. Robinson was a four-year starter at Florida State and knows the game better than most. In a poor safety class, Robinson’s combine performance pushes him down to the third round. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash and measured in shorter than 5’11”. He is a significant drop off from the first and second safety prospects Antonio Johnson and Brian Branch, but Robinson is a guy who doesn’t win with speed or power, but with technique and being in the right place.
Round 3, Pick 76, Demarvion Overshown, LB - Texas
To round out the day, the Texans pick a local prospect who will have some growing to do, but offers the rates combination of speed, length, and experience in this linebacker group. Overshown is tall, rangy, a hard hitter, and a seasoned veteran. It never felt like his ceiling was hit at Texas. Which means either there are some gaps in his play or he’s not going to develop into the player he could be. As a lifelong Longhorn fan, I’d love to see this. Not only would he be a fantastic pairing with Christian Harris, Overshown’s ability to pass cover will allow Harris to be the brunt of force he can be downfield.
If the Texans take Overshown, it would be their project similar to that of Fred Warner who was also drafted in the third round several years ago and is on his way to be a Hall of Famer.
If the Texans can pull off this draft class, they’d leave day two with three new starters on either side of the ball. They would have mortgaged very little of their future picks and be able to fill pressing needs across every position group.
Next week, we’ll submit a less-fun mock draft; a worst-case-scenario mock.