CB, OT should be targets early

Lance Zierlein's Texans draft primer

Andre Dillard. Cody Stoots/SportsMap

The Houston Texans are in a precarious spot because they have quality core players on the roster, but they are dangerously low in talent and/or depth at offensive tackle and at cornerback. While we're at it, they need more depth at wide receiver and running back to help fortify the offense's explosiveness.

With all of that said, let's take a look at what you need to know headed into the draft.

Needs

Offensive line: The Texans need at least one and maybe two tackles in this draft. The supply doesn't match the demand for the left tackle spot so the Texans will need to consider any good tackle, right or left, when they get their shots. The Texans could also look for more competition at both guard and center in this draft.

Cornerback: Brien Boddy-Calhoun, Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby are all on one-year deals so there is a chance that all three will be gone next year - along with Aaron Colvin if he doesn't get things figured out. The Texans may have to address cornerback more than once in this draft and keep firing into next year.

Running back: Lamar Miller has done fine, but he's playing at a replaceable level and the Texans could look to add running back depth to compete with both Miller and D'Onta Foreman for carries. Foreman will be on a short leash this year and will need to show and prove or he could be gone after the year.

Wide receiver: Based upon the amount of private visits and the interest level the Texans have shown at the wide receiver position, it is obvious that position will be targeted. Will Fuller can't stay on the field and KeKe Coutee's soft tissue injury wouldn't heal properly. The Texans will be looking for depth that could turn into a future starter, but it may not be until later in the draft.

Defensive line: There is a belief in league circles that Jadeveon Clowney could be on the trade block as you read this. If that is the case, the Texans will absolutely need to be prepared to look at depth/talent on the edge.

Round 1 targets

Andre Dillard, LT, Washington State: The most gifted left tackle in this draft will likely go way before the Texans pick and I don't expect them to trade away their valuable picks to get their hands on him unless he drops far enough to where it may cost them a future third next year.

Greg Little, LT, Ole Miss: He's solid and a multi-year starter in the difficult SEC West, but he's below average in the running game and might be more of an early second round talent. The value of left tackle could push him up.

Kaleb McGary, RT, Washington: He check the traits boxes and the toughness that the Texans will covet under GM Brian Gaine and head coach Bill O'Brien. This might be a shade early for him, but there are teams who like his potential and toughness.

Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas St: Risner has played right tackle and center and should have no problem moving to guard if needed. Because Risner is so versatile and so consistent, he could find his way into the first. I'm higher on Risner than most.

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: Murphy doesn't have great length or speed (4.55 forty) so I struggle with whether or not to put him as a target for the Texans, but he's ultra-competitive and has 20 passes defensed including 6 INTs in just 20 career games.

Greedy Williams, CB, LSU: He's long and fast and has terrific ball skills, but he's slender and he's not the toughest tackler out there. Some teams worry that Greedy seemed to shut down the competitiveness late in the season.

Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple: He is a graduate transfer from Presbyterian who went to Temple for his last year and immediately was given a single digit number in the off-season representing the toughest players on the team. He's a former championship wrestler with great strength and physicality but average speed. He fits the personality the Texans are looking for.

Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky: If the Texans traded back, Johnson could be a target. He's big, long and fast and showed the ability to get into the receiver's face in press and choke them off at the snap. He struggled to find the football and gave up too many touchdowns over two years, but some defensive back coaches believe that is coachable and they see Johnson has a high upside talent. He's got the traits that the Texans will typically covet at that position.

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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