6 Prospects at positions of need for the Houston Texans

Texans still have holes to fill

Composite photo by Jack Brame

The 2020 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away. The Houston Texans need to replenish several positions with quality prospects. Houston isn't scheduled to select in the draft until the 40th overall selection, which they acquired via trade from the Arizona Cardinals for DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans just sent their other second rounder, the 57th overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams for wide receiver, Brandin Cooks and a fourth round pick in the year of our Lord 2022.

Brandin Cooks is a different article. While Houston may still invest in the position, it would seem unlikely that they would do so with their top selection. The wide receiver position falls down the ranks among positions of needs.

Biggest Needs

  • EDGE rusher
  • Cornerback
Houston needs to add an offensive guard, running back, wide receiver and defensive lineman, along with the previously mentioned positions but they aren't as glaring of needs.

There's several different ways that the Texans' General Manager, Bill O'Brien could attack the draft.

  • Trade Up - Look to solidify one of the positions with the best player they could acquire
  • Trade Down - Look to accumilate more picks in this draft or replenish the 2021 draft
  • Trade Player - Houston could trade a player on the roster, like a Benardrick McKinney to acquire more picks
  • Make selections as is based on best player available at any position
  • Make selections as is based on best player available at position of need
O'Brien has the luxury of a draft filled with talented cornerback prospects. Unfortunately, for Houston, the edge class is lacking in top-end talent. O'Brien has three picks inside the first 111 and as you may have heard, isn't afraid to make a deal.

When day two of the draft starts with pick #33 overall, those first several picks will be a premium as teams wake up to day two of the draft surprised by a handful of prospects that are still available. While Houston needs to replenish talent for 2020, O'Brien would have to listen to trade offers that could help him either pick up additional picks in 2021, while sliding further back in the 2020 draft or trade back in the 2020 draft just to add more top 100 picks. I wouldn't be surprised by either move with the caveat being who the prospects are that are available.

When evaluating the NFL Draft, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My draft evaluations are independent and don't always follow the consensus of what's being reported in the media. This has led to me making some great finds where others were wrong i.e. George Kittle, David Johnson, etc but also it's left me with egg on my face at times, as was the case with Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, etc.

No evaluators are going to be perfect and I'll own my blunders but I'll still trust my eyes and relay what I see in hopes to make the draft process a little more enjoyable. You're welcome to shrug off my evals or buy in. I mention this as full disclosure as some of the prospects that I mention below, I'll either be a lot "higher" on than consensus, while other names that you don't see mention may be due to my personal evaluation not being as flattering as what's the general belief. On some of these prospects, I will even have them graded a few rounds higher or lower than what you may be accustomed to seeing. Don't get too caught up in this as their are 32 teams and their personal evaluations vary across the board on prospects and there isn't a general consensus as you would believe from looking at social media and broadcasts.

What the Texans Should Do

Before I get into listing three prospects at cornerback and edge that Houston should look at selecting with their pick in the second round, I want to list some other options that could be available to them.

EDGE - AJ Epenesa - In a less than stellar edge class, Epenesa is the value pick. It's a pipe dream to hope that he would last to the 40th pick overall. I couldn't blame Houston for trading up to select Epenesa, who reminds me of a poor man's JJ Watt. If they do make the move up, it would leave them chasing at the receiver and cornerback positions. While they could still land contributors at both positions, it'd be extremely difficult to get the early difference makers that they need at multiple positions of need. It's still worth considering based off the falloff at the edge position after Epenesa and the depth at the cornerback.

Now, lets get to the two positions with the biggest needs and three guys that I believe Houston should target there in the second round.

Cornerbacks

Noah Igbinoghene - Auburn - He doesn't fit the new NFL standard of 6'1-6'2 but at 5'10 and with arms that are almost 32 inches, Houston would be wise to go outside of their positional parameters to sign this corner that reminds me of Janoris Jenkins. He mirrors and is aggressive. He fights to shed receivers and will come up and tackle. To me, he's the second best corner in this class.

Michael Ojemudia - Iowa - Let me go ahead and tell you that I'm putting my balls out there with this one. Go ahead and google him...yep, that's right, most people have him as a late day three pick. I love his game and believe he'll be a stud at the next level. Standing 6'1 200 pounds with 32 1/4" arms and speed in the mid 4.4s with a 36" vertical to boot. All of those measurements should mesh with O'Brien's parameters, but it's the potential of the tape that I love. Loose hips, wrap-up form tackling, good C.O.D., doesn't over react to jukes/fakes and comfortable in off, press and zone.

Cameron Dantzler - Mississippi State - I don't think I'm going to win anyone over with these last two cornerbacks of Ojemudia and Dantzler. While Dantzler has the height of 6'2, he's rail thin at 188 and only has 30 5/8" arms with 4.64 speed. Those that live and die by combines, pro days, etc, have already thrown him to the wolves. His film shows a great tackler and uses his wiry frame as a dynamic rusher with unique edge bend for a corner. Throw out the numbers, he'll be a solid pro.

EDGE

We don't need to leave the state of Florida for this group of pass rushers. Any of the three would make sense in round two for Houston.

Jonathan Greenard - Flordia - At 6'3 263 pounds and with massive arms that almost reach 35", Anthony Weaver could mold this young man. He plays with leverage and is good in pursuit. He's similar to a Shaq Lawson type.

Jabari Zuniga - Florida - 6'3 264 pounds has him similar in size to his former Gator teammate, but his arms are two inches shorter. What he lacks in length, he makes up for with quickness and speed. He's fast and explosive, engages with leverage and has a deadly long arm. Imagine a situational pass rush of Jacob Martin and Zuniga with Watt and Mercilus.

Jonathan Garvin - Miami - 6'4 263 pounds with 34" arms. He sheds with length, sets the edge and has the ability to flatten with strength and balance. Surprising C.O.D. for his size. I thought Houston could add an aging Everson Griffin for cheap. Garvin will remind you of Griffin with traits in his game.

It's O'Brien's first draft, so I have no clue what will happen, but I'd expect some surprises from Bungling Bill.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome