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Analyzing ESPN’s Mel & Todd’s Texans Three-Round Mock Draft

The draft analysts have spoken, but we shall have the final say

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To quote my high school football coach in the locker room before every game, “it’s ‘bout that time boys, ‘bout that time”.

Indeed, we are about that time before the NFL Draft commences next week and the anticipation is boiling over. The rumor mill and smoke screens are at full capacity between General Manager Nick Caserio jettisoning for New England and Houston supposedly not taking a QB with the second overall pick.

With so much at stake for the Texans, the possibilities are endless on where the team should allocate its draft resources. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. have put together a three-round mock draft on ESPN+ outlining exactly what the Texans should do.

Round 1, Pick 2 overall: CJ Stroud, QB - Ohio State

Todd McShay’s Explanation:

I really wouldn’t be surprised if Houston jumps at the chance to draft a dominant defender like Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr., but I’m making the pick here, and there’s no way I’m passing up one of the top two quarterbacks in the class with that glaring need. Stroud is extremely accurate and would give the Texans’ offense a franchise passer to build around.

Analysis: A+

Landing Stroud would be the defining moment of Houston’s rebuilding process. It would also signal that most of the idiocracy that has floated around the Texans’ front office the past decade has left. There’s a significant amount of smoke right now that the Texans won't choose a QB, but that’s just the internet being the internet. Unless the Panthers take him first overall, Houston should pick Stroud regardless of every iteration of chaos that could occur over the next week.

Round 1, Pick 12 overall (from CLE): Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR - Ohio State

Todd McShay’s Explanation:

I landed both of the Texans’ picks in Round 1, and I’m keeping the pairing of C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba together after they piled up 1,606 receiving yards and nine TDs in 2021 at Ohio State (before a hamstring injury limited Smith-Njigba last year). The wideout is a super smooth route runner and could be a star in the NFL

Analysis: B+

I predict and expect Houston to take a defensive playmaker with this pick and trade back into the first round to select a wide receiver. Nonetheless, landing the second best QB and the best WR in a class possibly has never happened before. I can guarantee that it hasn’t occurred that they’re also former teammates.

JSN’s injury this past season limited his production, but hasn’t limited his draft stock. The wide receiver would be the most dynamic play maker the team possesses and would immediately be the team’s star player. Pairing him with Stroud will kickstart the Texans offense and bolster a weak and aging wide receiver room.

Round 2, Pick 33 overall: Keion White, DE - Georgia Tech

Mel Kiper Jr.’s Explanation:

Todd, you went all offense for Houston in Round 1, so I have to take a defender here. White has the size and traits to make an impact as a rookie. Coach DeMeco Ryans would love working with him.

Analysis: B-

White is already 24, and while he is a prototypical pass rush prospect, lacks the experience warranted with this pick. He was one of the most productive players in this class rushing the passer and is easily the most well-rounded defensive end/OLB on the board. The big concern is his lack of experience at the position; he played as a tight end at Old Dominion before transferring to defensive end, then to Georgia Tech. While that means his untapped potential is immense, there’s a distinct likelihood he lacks the fundamentals necessary to be picked at the top of the second round.

The defensive end would be a plug-and-play starter on the defense at a high value position of need. A Whitney Mercilus- type defensive end with the upside to develop into a strong pass rusher.

Round 3, Pick 65 overall: Jack Campbell, ILB - Iowa

Mel Kiper Jr.’s Explanation:

Off-ball linebackers have less value in today’s NFL as teams throw the ball much more than they run it, but Campbell is a really good player. He showed off his physical tools and change-of-direction skills at the combine. Houston needs impact players in this draft.

Analysis: A-

Houston has several recent additions to the ILB corpse including Denzel Perryman, not to mention Christian Kirksey and second year Christian Harris. Adding a fourth linebacker at this price tag feels like overkill for a position Kiper himself says says is “less value”. Jack Campbell is a dynamite pick at this value and would be the signal caller DeMeco Ryans would adore for five plus years. Perryman and Kirksey would be the vets to teach a talented and athletic linebacker of the future.

The grade is more attributed to the quality of the player at this value than the pick itself. Jack Campbell could easily go in the top 40 picks, so to see him available here would be a steal.

Round 3, Pick 73 overall (from CLE): Jaquelin Roy, DT - LSU

Mel Kiper Jr.’s Explanation:

This is the last of Houston’s five picks in the first three rounds, and we’ve gotten it a quarterback, wide receiver, edge rusher and inside linebacker so far. Why not more help along the spine of the defense? Roy is a nose tackle who can push the pile.

Analysis: C-

Transparently, this isn’t a player I know much about, nor do I think defensive tackle is a position the Texans will prioritize given their free agent signings. I also don’t think Kiper put much thought into this decision given his breakdown. I’d much prefer Zach Charbonnet, the dynamic running back out of UCLA that would be the ideal RB2 with Dameon Pierce. The Texans could also pick Darius Rush, who I have us taking with this pick in my All-SEC mock draft.

Roy is a run-first defensive tackle. He only started one year with the Tigers. He’d be competing with Sheldon Rankins and Roy Lopez in a 4-3 front for playing time. Having a Roy Lopez and Jaquelin Roy on the defensive line will be extremely confusing for Marc Vandermeer up in the booth. Houston simply has too many other needs to spend a third pick on the front seven of the defense.

Overall, this draft would be great turning point for the Texans. The ESPN draft analysis do miss the mark on several positions of need and instead focus on areas where Houston has addressed in the offseason. Nick Caserio will continue to be active again during the draft and any fan should expect Houston to trade up with their late-round picks to maximize the opportunities afforded to them.