NFL DRAFT

3 prospects the Houston Texans must consider with pick No. 67

Texans Nick Caserio, Roger Goodell
The Texans are set to make their 1st selection in the 3rd round. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Texans arguably have the worst draft capital heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Their first selection will come in the third round as a result of acquiring Laremy Tunsil in 2019. Although the team will be missing out on the top-66 prospects, the Texans still have an opportunity to draft a foundational player at pick No. 67.

The first round of the NFL Draft is set to begin Thursday night at 7:00 CT on ESPN, the NFL Network and ABC. Here are three prospects the Texans should consider with their top pick in this year's draft.

1) Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

The unpopular opinion surrounding the Texans heading into this year's draft is whether they should select a quarterback with their first pick. Houston has a bevy of holes on the roster — mainly on the defensive side of the ball. But the uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson has left the Texans' quarterback situation in a snafu state.

Should Watson's legal troubles sideline him for all the 2021 season, there is a chance the Texans will hold on to their disgruntled QB in hopes of rebuilding his trade value. The acquisitions of Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Finley have given the Texans a short-term answer under center for next season. But what about the long-term plans? If Kyle Trask is still on the board at pick No. 67, the Texans should add the Florida quarterback to their roster.

Is Trask on the level of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields or Zack Wilson? No. But he has the upside to develop into a solid starting NFL quarterback — something the Texans will be seeking beyond the 2021 season.

One of Trask's most valued attributes is his size. At 6-foot-5, Trask has the ideal built for a QB — one who can see over defenders when observing play downfield. While throwing for 7,386 yards and 69 touchdowns, Trask established himself as an intelligent decision-maker in the pocket with the ability to take care of the ball. The Houston native only committed 15 interceptions during his collegiate career at Florida.

Trask's erratic mechanics as a passer is one of the main reasons he may fall to the third round. But the chance to develop alongside QB coach Pep Hamilton would give Trask an opportunity to translate his college success to the NFL.

Other prospects to consider at this position: Kellen Mond and Davis Mills

2) Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

The primary defensive goal for the Texans in 2021 is to create turnovers. The Texans finished last in the league in turnovers, with a franchise-low nine in 2020. A part of Houston's lack of turnovers came from its secondary, which recorded only three interceptions. To improve their secondary, the Texans need to target a prospect with the knack to find the ball. And Stanford's Paulson Adebo would be a logical selection.

Adebo's top skill set as a defensive back is his hands. He is a former high school wideout who uses his experience as a receiver to track the ball once in the air, which often leads to a pass deflection or interception. Despite appearing in 22 games in four years, Adebo recorded 34 deflections and eight interceptions at Stanford. Amid receiving First Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2018, Adebo led the conference in interceptions with four.

In addition to his talents to make plays on the ball, Adebo is a physical defensive back whose size (6-foot-1) would be invaluable when matchup up with the opposing team's bigger receivers. He is one of the most underrated corners in this year's draft. If not for opting out of the 2020 season, Adebo's draft stock would have been higher.

Other prospects to consider at this position: Aaron Robinson and Robert Rochell

3) Dayo Odeyingbo, EDGE, Vanderbilt

The Texans need a significant upgrade to their defensive front — especially following the departure of J.J. Watt. It will take more than one player to replace Watt's Hall-of-Fame contributions. But edge rusher Dayo Odeyingbo from Vanderbilt would help with the Texans' transition out of the Watt era.

At 6-foot-5, 285lbs, Odeyingbo can use his athletic physique to rush pass blockers to create havoc in the opposing team's backfield. His most supreme talent is his ability to get after the quarterback. Odeyingbo finished his career with the Commodores, recording a total of 12.0 sacks in three seasons. During his final season, Odeyingbo posted a pass-rush grade of 77.8, according to Pro Football Focus.

Other prospects to consider at this position: Payton Tuner and Robert Rochell

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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