Houston Texans 3-Round Mock Draft 2.0

After months of waiting, the 2022 NFL Draft is finally here, and the Houston Texans have much to address on April’s final weekend. The six-time AFC South champions have nine total selections in this year’s draft, including three picks in the first 38.

After previously doing a three-round mock draft at the end of March, now feels like the time to revisit the Texans’ needs and project what they might do this weekend. For the sake of simplicity, we only used the team’s current draft selections; there are no trades here that have not already happened. We also drafted players based on need and team fit.

Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, our three-round mock draft looks as follows:

Round 1 (No. 3 overall): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Previous choice: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

On the one hand, I still believe Neal would be an excellent selection here. However, it feels like the pre-draft narratives around Thibodeaux have changed in recent weeks, and the Oregon standout should expect to hear his name called within the first five selections.

For transparency, I still have the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, respectively, selecting Michigan pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson and Liberty quarterback Malik Willis with the draft’s first two picks. The 6-foot-4, 254-pound Thibodeaux could excel under head coach Lovie Smith, a proven defensive-minded coach who is eager to turn the Texans around.

Although I personally would likely lean offensive tackle here, I’m fine with the Texans bringing Thibodeaux into the mix. As for adding offensive players…

Round 1 (No. 13 overall): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Previous choice: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The problem with doing mock drafts is you truly don’t know who will be available at this pick. For all I know, the Atlanta Falcons might select Williams with the eighth overall pick.

But that’s also the fun of mock drafts: you truly don’t know who will be available.

The 6-foot-1, 179-pound Williams was considered the draft’s top receiver prospect before he tore his ACL in January’s National Championship Game. The St. Louis native torched SEC defenses in 2021, totaling 79 catches, 1,572 yards, and 15 receiving touchdowns en route to earning All-American honors. Williams, an Ohio State transfer, also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in his lone season with the Crimson Tide.

Although it remains unclear when Williams will be cleared to play as a rookie, his high ceiling makes him worthy of being the pick here. Whoever will be the Texans’ next franchise quarterback, whether it’s second-year signal-caller Davis Mills or current Alabama star Bryce Young, will need weapons if they’re to restore a winning culture in Houston.

Round 2 (No. 37 overall): Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan

Previous choice: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

Raimann could go in the first round, or the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Austria native could easily slip to the draft’s second day. I personally believe the All-MAC left tackle’s relative rawness (he began his college career at tight end before moving to the offensive line ahead of the 2020 season) will leave him available for the Texans to select at No. 37.

Raimann’s sudden ascension from rotational tight end to elite left tackle prospect is fascinating, and it could bode extremely well for his NFL future. We’ll see if the Texans, or whoever drafts the former high school wide receiver, consider using the 2022 campaign as a redshirt year of sorts.

Round 3 (No. 68 overall) DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

Previous choice: Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia

Let Leal serve as proof of how unpredictable the NFL draft tends to be. I had him going 38th overall in my March mock, and the trusty NFL Mock Draft Database considers him the 55th overall prospect.

Yet, prospects always fall, and I’m using Leal, who tallied an impressive 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 11 games last season, as a faller here. The 6-foot-4, 283-pound lineman could play either defensive end or tackle in the pros.

“Leal possesses adequate rush skills and knows how to craft a rush plan, but a lack of suddenness and closing burst turns potential sacks into hurries without the help of a long pocket count,” NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein wrote. “When the motor is cranked up, he can stack and slide past run blockers with efficiency and quickness.”

Round 3 (No. 80 overall): Marcus Jones, CB, Houston

Previous choice: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis

The Texans need defensive backs, and I’ve loved what I’ve seen from Jones. Although the 5-foot-8, 174-pound Alabama native lacks size, he makes up for it with a competitive attitude and impressive athleticism.

Not only did Jones play admirably on defense, but he tallied 15 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown in four seasons of college football. During that time, the Troy transfer also had nine return touchdowns (six on kickoffs and three on punt returns).

Jones isn’t a prototypical cornerback prospect, but that might appeal to Smith and the Texans’ brain trust. It’s not like this is an organization exactly known for, shall we say, wise decisions.

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