Texans could look to the NFL Draft to replace Jadeveon Clowney

Ranking 20 edge players in the 2020 NFL Draft

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The 2020 NFL Draft is only a few weeks away and it's been announced that the show will go on. The event will not be as planned, with the usual pomp and circumstance, but the 32 NFL teams will make their selections. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL organizations will have to make picks while dodging an unusual terrain of land mines. Teams may not have all of the medical, correct measurements, etc, but they'll be on even footing with the rest of the league during these odd times.

In my first draft piece of 2020, I focused on the wide receivers that could be selected by the Houston Texans to replace recently traded, DeAndre Hopkins. As we near the draft, I'll continue to put out my positional rankings at places of need for the Texans. This being in hopes of giving you an idea of which players may be available and who I believe would be the best additions.

This article will focus on the players available in the 2020 NFL Draft that may help to replace the recently traded (before 2019 season), Jadeveon Clowney.

Houston still employs Whitney Mercilus, after his latest contract with the franchise and fan favorite, JJ Watt. Mercilus showed last year that he couldn't be the number one guy when the situation called for it. Clowney was traded and Watt was injured when Mercilus disappeared from the Texans stat sheet. Houston will need to add an edge presence early in the draft that can develop with an aging Mercilus and banged up JJ Watt. Watt has only played in 32 of his last 64 regular season games. While he was able to play in all 16 games in 2018, he missed 13 in 2016, 11 in 2017 and eight last season.

Houston needs to add talent and youth to the position to go with a promising Jacob Martin and developing Charles Omenihu. Here are 20 pass rushers from the 2020 NFL Draft.

Chase YoungOhio State6'5 - 264 (33' 3/4")
Top 5
AJ EpenesaIowa6'5 - 275 (34' 1/2")
1st Round
K'Lavon ChaissonLSU6'3 - 254 (32' 1/4")
1st/2nd Rd
Jonathan GreenardFlorida6'3 - 263 (34' 7'8")
2nd Round
Jabari ZunigaFlorida6'3 - 264 (32' 7/8")
2nd Round
Jonathan GarvinMiami6'4 - 263 (34")
2nd Round
Yetur Gross-MatosPenn State6'5 - 266 (34' 7/8")
2nd/3rd Rd
Alton RobinsonSyracuse6'3 - 264 (32' 3/8")3rd Round
Terrell LewisAlabama6'5 - 262 (33' 7/8")3rd Round
Darrell TaylorTennessee6'4 - 267 (33")3rd Round
Alex HighsmithCharlotte6'3 - 248 (33' 1/8")4th Round
Anfernee JenningsAlabama6'2 - 256 (32' 7/8")4th Round
Julian OkwaraNotre Dame6'4 - 252 (34' 3/8")4th Round
Trevis GipsonTulsa6'3 - 261 (33' 7/8")5th Round
Bradley AnaeUtah6'3 - 257 (32' 1/8")5th Round
Curtis WeaverBoise State6'2 - 265 (32' 3/8")5th Round
Jason StrowbridgeUNC6'4 - 275 (32' 3/8")6th Round
Derrick TuszkaND State6'4 - 251 (31' 3/8")6th Round
Khalid KareemNotre Dame6'4 - 268 (34' 3/8")6th Round
Kenny WillekesMich State6'3 - 264 (31' 1/4")7th Round

The Houston Texans have two picks in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. They traded away their first round pick as part of the Laremy Tunsil trade and acquired an extra second rounder after trading DeAndre Hopkins. Here's all of their current draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft:

#40 Overall - 2nd Round

#57 Overall - 2nd Round

#90 Overall - 3rd Round

#111 Overall - 4th Round

#171 Overall - 5th Round

#240 Overall - 7th Round

#248 Overall - 7th Round

#250 Overall - 7th Round

Houston needs to use an early pick on a wide receiver, edge rusher, cornerback and could also look to draft for the offensive line, running back, defensive line and possibly a young, cheap, backup quarterback for Deshaun Watson. The Texans will have to decide between going with one of their positions of need early and even consider trading up or trading back to acquire more draft picks. Do they package picks and move into the first round? If they did, would it be someone on this list or would their desire to replace Hopkins seem more urgent?

If Houston was to trade into the first round, with the intention of upgrading their pass rush, AJ Epenesa, should be the desired target. He's a poor-man's JJ Watt. When you watch his games, you see the similarities in mannerisms and movement skills. He's not going to be JJ Watt, but if he's even 70% of that, then I would gladly trade up into the first to secure him at a rookie wage for up to five seasons.

It would seem unlikely that Houston would trade up and minimize the amount of top picks that they have. They've paid a premium for the picks they do have and have big needs that need to be answered through the draft. Luckily, it's a deep wide receiver draft and while it's not a strong pass rush class for premium talent, there are some guys in the second round, that would seem to be the perfect fit. Greenard, Garvin and Gross-Matos seem to fit the plus arm length that the Texans look for in the draft. This is probably the sweet spot in which the Texans draft capital and positional talent meet.

If the Texans feel good about the talent they have at the position for 2020 with Watt, Mercilus, Martin, Omenihu, Brennan Scarlett and a returning from injury, Duke Ejiofor, then they could wait until day three of the draft. If Houston does look to select pass rushers after the third round, the three guys that would make the most sense would be Alex Highsmith, Trevis Gipson and Anfernee Jennings.

Look at the picks and the players and tell me what would you do if you were making the call?

In the next article, I'll be looking at cornerbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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