By now, most NFL fans have a pretty good idea of what their team is this season. For fans of teams like the Los Angeles Rams, the Buffalo Bills, and the Dallas Cowboys, everything they had hoped for is still ahead of them. Having the opportunity to play meaningful games down the stretch of the season and compete in the playoffs is a luxury this time of year and you’re lucky if your team is in that category. Meanwhile, for teams like the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans, well, it’s time to start firing up the TDN Mock Draft Machine and turn your attention to the 2022 NFL Draft.
After the Texans’ horrific loss to the Rams last weekend and a lackluster trade deadline, it’s only fitting that I spend some time helping this poor and mistreated fan base. Below is a seven-round mock draft for the Texans to try and help turn this once-proud franchise around.
ROUND 1, NO. 2 OVERALL: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Texans just missed out on another chance to take the top pass rusher available a la Mario Williams in 2006 and Jadeveon Clowney in 2014. However, all is not lost as the Texans still manage to get a hell of a consolation prize. Neal is a fantastic offensive tackle prospect who offers rare size and power. He plays the game the right way and is a physical tone-setter that can help change the culture for this franchise. From a positional need standpoint, left tackle is not an area of weakness with the Texans having Laremy Tunsil to fill that position, but Neal has experience playing right tackle and projects better on the right side. With Tunsil and Neal as your bookend tackles, whoever is under center for the Texans should be able to be properly protected.
ROUND 2, NO. 34 OVERALL: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
The decision to choose Neal over a talent like Derek Stingley Jr., the corner from LSU, was tough but it came down to the fact that this is a very talented corner class compared to offensive tackle. Being able to land a talent like McCreary here at the top of the second round is extremely fortunate for the Texans and allows them to get a future starter at the position. Corner is a huge need for this football team as Vernon Hargreaves and Terrance Mitchell are the team’s current starters, which simply isn’t a recipe for success. McCreary’s athleticism and size will allow him to instantly be an upgrade as a man-to-man cover corner.
ROUND 3, NO. 66 OVERALL: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Gone are the days of the Texans being able to roll out Clowney, J.J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus. Instead, opposing quarterbacks have the luxury of competing against a front seven that is sorely lacking playmakers. While Jonathan Greenard is a nice young player who is coming into his own, the team is still desperate for more talent up front defensively. Johnson is one of the highest rising prospects in this upcoming class and has put himself in consideration to be one of the top edge rushers taken. He currently is tied for seventh in the NCAA in sacks with eight.
ROUND 3, NO. 87 OVERALL: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
The Texans attempted to solve their running back position through free agency with the signings of Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay and it’s safe to say they swung and missed—which is perfectly OK considering the talent in this running back class. Now, I will say that the likelihood of Spiller being available this late is very slim, but in this simulated mock draft, him being available is an absolute home run. Spiller is the best back in this draft and offers three-down play-making ability with an excellent blend of size, power, vision, and speed. He would be a dynamic addition to this struggling Houston offense.
ROUND 4, NO. 134 OVERALL: Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada
The Brandin Cooks era in Houston is very likely to end after this year after the receiver has yet again put up another successful season for a losing organization. The team will need to equip themselves with new playmakers outside to support whoever is their starting quarterback in 2022. Doubs is an explosive option on the outside with very good vertical playmaking ability to help stretch the field and open up this offense.
ROUND 5, NO. 144 OVERALL: Ali Gaye, EDGE, LSU
As I mentioned above, the Texans desperately need to add talent to their front seven and they do so here with a very solid player in Gaye. Gaye, who returned to school this year after he could have turned pro in 2021, is a very long and powerful defensive end who has a very good ability to play both the run and the pass. He is out with a season-ending injury which causes him to slip here, but if not for the injury he would be long gone by the fifth round.
ROUND 6, NO. 181 OVERALL: Nick Ford, IOL, Utah
One of my favorite players in this entire class, Ford is an absolute steal here in the sixth round. A heavy-handed guard with excellent size and power, Ford is one of the best interior offensive linemen in this class. Houston’s offensive line is simply a mess, and they can use an influx of young talent to help solidify this unit. Adding Ford here would go a long way in doing that.
ROUND 7, NO. 247 OVERALL: Trey Dean, S, Florida
The late rounds are all about drafting high upside players with very good physical traits. Dean is just that. Blessed with excellent size, length, and movement skills, Dean has an extremely high ceiling and is just scratching the surface of what he can turn into. He will provide the Texans solid depth at safety while also being an ace on special teams.