The Houston Texans are in a state of flux heading into the NFL Draft. Houston doesn't have a first- or second-round pick to its name after the Laremy Tunsil trade with the Miami Dolphins two years ago, surrendering the No. 3 pick in this year's draft after a 4-12 season. The Texans also are unsure of what will happen with franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is facing 22 sexual misconduct lawsuits as allegations keep mounting.
Houston's offseason went from the potential of recouping draft picks with a potential Watson trade to the possibility he may never play football again. The Texans also are in the middle of rebuilding their roster with new general manager Nick Caserio and head coach David Culley. Houston could reshape its roster with young talent in the draft, but the Texans don't make a selection until the third round (No. 67 overall) and have just three picks in the top 150 -- not exactly a great game plan toward rebuilding a team for 2021.
This year may be a wash for Houston, but the Texans can make the best of a bad situation in this draft. Here's a blueprint for the Texans to have a strong draft, despite the deck being stacked against them.
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Take Dyami Brown with first draft pick
If the Texans want to find an impact player in this draft, Brown is the guy. The North Carolina wideout averaged more than 20 yards per catch in each of the past two seasons and his speed is what the Texans need to ignite an offense that lost its deep-ball receiver in Will Fuller. Brown would become an instant playmaker on a receiving unit that includes Brandin Cooks on the outside and Randall Cobb in the slot. There's an excellent chance Brown could start in Week 1 on this unit.
Brown's ability with the double move and acceleration to run past defensive backs makes him a big-play threat, as his five catches of 50-plus yards last year suggest. The Texans should do whatever they can to get him with their first pick, even if Houston has to part ways with some of their Day Three picks to trade up.
Brown is a building block for a rebuilding team, a wideout that can stick around for a long time.
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Add run-stopping interior defender in fourth round
The Texans defense was one of the worst in the NFL last season, but Houston was abysmal against the run (most rushing yards allowed and third-most rushing touchdowns allowed) and only added Vincent Taylor on the interior defensive line. The Texans can find an interior defensive lineman in the fourth round of this draft, and there are two players that are expected to make an instant impact in the league.
UCLA's Osawaru Odighizuwa can play multiple positions on the defensive line and displays excellent balance for a defensive lineman. He finished his career with more tackles for loss (27.5) than games started (27) and is consistent at beating blocks and finding the football. Odighizuwa's pass-rushing abilities are raw, but he is ready to help an NFL defensive line.
Ohio State's Tommy Togiai could play the nose in Houston's "Tampa 2 "defense, filling the A-gap with his big frame. The Texans wouldn't get a pass rusher with Togiai, but the defense gets a lineman that can clog the middle and disrupt the interior of the offensive line. Both Odighizuwa and Togiai should be available by pick No. 109 and the Texans should run to the podium to draft one of them.
Houston added Terrance Mitchell and Desmond King in free agency, two players that are expected to compete with Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves for the starting job. In a "Tampa 2" defense. The Texans are going to need more competition for an uncertain position. The Texans were 24th in the league in passing yards allowed and 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed, so this unit must improve if this team is going to win games.
The Texans have a few options here with their two fifth-round picks (No. 147 and No. 158). Georgia's D.J. Daniel is a project cornerback that needs to work on jamming receivers better, but can work in Houston's defense in a variety of subpackages. SMU's Brandon Stephens doesn't have a lot of experience at the position, but is intelligent and can grasp the concepts quickly. Stephens has the tools to succeed in the league and is worth taking a flyer on in Day Three.
The Texans can find value in this draft, which is what they have to do with zero selections in the first two rounds. Things will get better for Houston, but the Texans have to survive this 2021 draft first.
Here's the prospects CBS NFL Draft writer Josh Edwards has the Texans taking in his mock draft:
|Round (overall pick)||Prospect (position)||College|
Daviyon Nixon (DT)
Payton Turner (EDGE)
Ben Cleveland (G)
Simi Fehoko (WR)
Brett Heggie (C)
Austin Watkins (WR)
Cameron Sample (EDGE)
Kene Nwangwu (RB)