The Texans are in full rebuild after breaking up the most successful core in the franchise’s history.
Deshaun Watson is gone and Lovie Smith’s regime is moving forward with Davis Mills as the signal caller for the foreseeable future. Houston has to make a push in a division that features two playoff contenders and a up and coming young roster. Here is how they can:
Round 1, Pick 3: Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame
Round 1, Pick 13: Drake London, WR, USC
The Texans have a plethora of top prospects to pick from at #3 but with the loss of Justin Reid and the lack of a defensive leader on the current roster, the list gets smaller.
Smith is a defensive coach and needs a versatile chess piece to build around. At three, the most versatile player in the draft is Kyle Hamilton. This is where the Texans should go to bolster their defense. Hamilton can play in the box, in man against tight ends and slot receivers or as a center fielder. Imagine a larger Jalen Ramsey with watered down man coverage. Lovie Smith could have a centerpiece for the next decade and possibly the best defensive player in the draft.
London is a big target and with the Texans losing their top two targets in Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins they need to replace that production. London can do just that as he is reliable and can make things happen after the catch. Snatching a top target in the top 15 isn’t bad for a team with a lot of holes to fill.
Round 2, Pick 5: Davis Ojabo, Edge, Michigan
Round 3, Pick 4: Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Penn State
Round 3, Pick 16: Brennan Armstrong, QB, Virginia
Houston needs to get better at creating pressure and Lovie Smith is going to want to grab guys that are tough and can do just that. Ojabo is one of those guys and could fall due to the Achilles’ tendon tear he suffered at his pro day. Houston may not let the injury deter them though: Ojabo is as solid a pass rusher as they come and could be a difference maker upon his return. He is a smooth athlete and one that would be a steal in the second round.
Rounding out the day two for Houston it would make sense for them to go corner and quarterback.
Castro-Fields is one of the most aggressive press man corners in the draft. He has the speed and size to match any receiver at the next level, Tyreek Hill being the exception to the rule. Armstrong is a team first guy with all the tools to be a star in the NFL. As much faith as the Texans have put in Mills I can’t see a scenario where you can pass on a player like Armstrong who has first round talent.
Round 4, Pick 31: Reed Blankenship, Safety, Middle Tennessee State
Round 4, Pick 32: Derick Hall, DE/OLB, Auburn
Round 6, Pick 4: Chris Hinton, DT, Michigan
Round 6, Pick 27: Abram Smith, RB, Baylor
Round 6, Pick 28: Issac Taylor-Stuart, CB, USC
Round 7, Pick 24: Ryan Hayes, Tackle, Michigan
Day three is a day where depth is the goal or teams go best player available. Houston can definitely rack up here with some good talent available late in the draft.
Reed Blankenship is a rangy safety that isn’t afraid to hit. He plays the ball well, though doesn’t have great ball production which is why he isn’t a day two pick.
Derick Hall and Chris Hinton both are players that can provide depth to a team that desperately needs it. They are also what I like to call “Foundational Future Picks.” They have the ability to be contributors to the team as stars or key role players as they develop. Hall is a Whitney Mercilus type of player who possesses good speed and strength off the edge as an end or standup pass rusher. Hinton is a player with NFL pedigree as the son of 7-time pro bowler Chris Hinton Sr. He is a slippery interior pass rusher and has strong hands which is something Smith can use early.
Though the other three players are possible contributors they will most likely be camp bodies. The one with the greatest chance to impact the roster is Abram Smith. Smith is a patient runner who sets up blocks and attacks the hole with aggression. He would be behind Rex Burkhead and Royce Freeman but he would have a chance as a special teamer and eventual contributor.
If this scenario shakes out, the Texans could solidify themselves a future full of talented players.