Photo via: LSU football/Facebook
With all the action in free agency, it's time to update my mock draft because many teams have filled their needs with free agents. The Houston Texans have the 23rd pick, so let's take a look at how the draft board might stack up.
1. Arizona Cardinals- Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
Murray should be a great fit in Kingsbury's offense.Composite photo by Brandon Strange
Nothing changes for the Cardinals after free agency. I still think they take Murray and move on from Josh Rosen.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Alabama DL Quinnen Williams
With the 49ers trading for Dee Ford, they pass on Bosa and draft Quinnen Williams.
3. New York Jets- Ohio State DE Nick Bosa
I had the Jets taking DE Josh Allen in Mock 1.0, but with Bosa available this time around, they'll draft him instead of Allen.
4. Oakland Raiders- Kentucky Edge Josh Allen
The Raiders get a pass rusher to replace Khalil Mack.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Michigan DE Rashan Gary
Their defense was horrible last year, so they improve the pass rush with Gary.
6. New York Giants- Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
It certainly looks like the Giants are rebuilding, and getting a QB has to be a priority.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Washington State OT Andre Dillard
With offensive tackle Cam Robinson coming off an ACL injury, the Jags add a tackle to protect their new QB, Nick Foles.
8. Detriot Lions- Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat
Guys that can sack the QB are hard to find.
9. Buffalo Bills- Florida OT Jawaan Taylor
The Bills have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, so they address their weakness with Taylor.
10. Denver Broncos- LSU LB Devin White
I had the Broncos drafting o-line in my first mock. Now that they added some players in free agency, I think they go defense and add a big time playmaker at linebacker. Is 4.42 a good forty time for a linebacker? I thought so.
11. Cincinnati Bengals- Alabama OL Jonah Williams
12. Green Bay Packers- Clemson DL Christian Wilkins
13. Miami Dolphins- Oklahoma OT Cody Ford
14. Atlanta Falcons- Houston DL Ed Oliver
15. Washington Redskins- Missouri QB Drew Lock
16. Carolina Panthers- Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson
17. New York Giants- Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf
18. Minnesota Vikings- Michigan LB Devin Bush
19. Tennessee Titans- Iowa TE Noah Fant
20. Pittsburgh Steelers- Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown
21. Seattle Seahawks- Clemson Edge Clelin Ferrell
22. Baltimore Ravens- Florida Edge Jachai Polite
23. Houston Texans- Ole Miss OT Greg Little
I had the Texans selecting LSU corner Greedy Williams in my first mock, and he's still on the board. The Texans would get better value with Williams, but they have to get a young tackle to develop and eventually protect Deshaun Watson. As of March 19th, the Texans still haven't signed any tackles, so drafting a tackle is a MUST. Little may take some time to develop, just like former Texan Duane Brown, but he should be an improvement over Houston's linemen on their roster currently. Also, his poor Combine performance has his value down a bit, but I don't think he'll be on the board if the Texans wait until the second round to draft a tackle. The fact that Little doesn't have his own Pro Football Focus prospect video says a lot. If he does have one, I couldn't find it. He's still under-the-radar for many talent evaluators and people putting mock drafts together. I think he'll become a quality tackle, but it may take some time.
24. Oakland Raiders (via Bears)- Florida State Edge Brian Burns
25. Philadelphia Eagles- LSU CB Greedy Williams
26. Indianapolis Colts- Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram
27. Oakland Raiders (via Cowboys)- Alabama RB Josh Jacobs
28. Los Angeles Chargers- Clemson DL Dexter Lawrence
29. Kansas City Chiefs- Washington CB Byron Murphy
30. Green Bay Packers (via Saints)- Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr.
31. Los Angeles Rams- Georgia CB Deandre Baker
32. New England Patriots- Kansas State OL Dalton Risner
- In a week that is in large part about being thankful for the good things we are fortunate to have in life, Texans’ fans can have an extra helping of glee. After three years of enduring an absolute turkey of a franchise, it is certainly a football blessing to have the Texans gobble up three straight wins to get to 6-4 and make it a legitimately big game Sunday versus 7-3 Jacksonville at NRG Stadium.
Should the Texans beat the Jaguars for a second time, they sweep the season series and take over first place in the AFC South. Raise your hands if back in early September you had this as a likely scenario. Hands down liars! With six more games to play after Sunday it’s not as if the Texans clinch the division with a win, but it clearly positions them to take the division and go from last to first as the Jaguars did from 2021 to last season. Among the Texans’ final six games, only Cleveland is an opponent currently with a winning record. The Broncos have won four in a row to enter the wild card race at 5-5, but that game is in Houston. Then the Texans play at the offensively impotent Jets and the dead in the water Titans. The Deshaun Watson-less Browns are here Christmas Eve before the Texans get their second game with the Titans, ahead of the season finale at the presently 5-5 Colts. That is a very favorable schedule. With a win over the Jags Sunday, the Texans finishing 11-6 becomes very plausible. That would force the Jaguars to win five of their final six games, which include playing at Cleveland and a home date vs. the Ravens. Jacksonville’s other four games project as wins: home games vs. the no-Joe Burrow Bengals and the horrible Panthers, road games at Tampa Bay and Tennessee.
On the flip side, if the Jaguars come here and win Sunday, they come relatively close to putting away the division. The Jags’ would leave with a two game lead, and a split with the Texans would give the Jacksonville the tiebreaker via better divisional record, unless they somehow lose at Tennessee in their season finale.
Beating the Jags again doesn’t figure to be as easy as it turned out to be for the Texans in Florida back in September. The Texans won 37-17 despite being outgained 404 yards to 366. After getting out to a 17-0 lead, the Texans saw Jacksonville draw within 17-10 with 4:35 to go in the third quarter. Then Andrew Beck shockingly rumbled 85 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return. Thereafter the outcome was never in doubt. The Texans were turnover-free in the game, the Jaguars coughed it up twice. With C.J. Stroud coming off of a three interceptions game you know taking care of the ball is a point of re-emphasis this week.
The Jaguars are a perfect 4-0 on the road, one of the road games being a road trip not a true road game. They beat the Buffalo Bills in London.
If C.J Stroud opted to take the rest of the season off, he’d still have the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award just about sewn up. Fellow freshman Texan Tank Dell is in the hunt for runner-up. The dynamic 165 pound former Houston Cougar has six touchdown catches. That equals the rookie TD haul total of Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins combined. Johnson had four TD grabs as a rookie in 2003, Hopkins just two as a rook in 2013. Dell is on pace for 10 touchdown catches. The schedule being 17 games now impacts this stuff of course, but Dell missed the Saints game while in concussion protocol. In the Super Bowl era, only nine first year wide receivers have cracked double digits in TD receptions. Randy Moss blew away the field with his epic 17 TD catch rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. Next with 13 are Ja’Marr Chase two years go with the Bengals and the begoggled John Jefferson with the Chargers in 1978. Odell Beckham and Mike Evans caught 12 apiece as rookies, Mike Williams 11. Calvin Ridley, Daryl Turner, and Sammy White each snared 10. White did it in a 14 game schedule.
Rams rookie fifth round pick Puka Nacua is Dell’s chief competition for rookie wideout of the year. Nacua is on pace for a whopping 117 receptions for more than 1500 yards.
A Thanksgiving-related note/quasi prediction. If the Texans ultimately finish second in the division, here’s a guess that they play at the Arlington Cowboys Turkey Day 2024. The Texans next season will play a game at the NFC East team that finishes in its division this year in the same place the Texans do theirs. The Cowboys are going to be second behind Philadelphia in the NFC East. C.J. Stroud’s arrival means no more zero nationally televised games for the Texans. A Texans-Cowboys holiday tilt makes sense. The Texans have played two Thanksgiving Day games, both at Detroit.
Looking for more Texans coverage?
Texans on Tap is the weekly Texan-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule a first video segment goes up Monday on the SportsMapTexans YouTube channel.