It has been a whirlwind for the Houston Texans over the past two seasons. They traded two first-round picks to the Miami Dolphins, in exchange for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. It was one of the most controversial trades made in recent memory, that was until they dealt star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson and a 2020 second-round pick. The latter eventually was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
The culmination of those trades resulted in the Texans having the third-worst record in the league and they do not own their first or second-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Next would come the Deshaun Watson drama, followed by the release of JJ Watt. This team could go in so many directions and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
With this mock draft, we will assume that the Texans will stay true to their word and hold onto Watson for the upcoming season.
Round 3, Pick 67 - Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
The Texans are a team that needs significant help along the defensive front. Watt and management have mutually agreed to part ways. This makes getting help along the defensive front a higher priority. Houston allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL this season and the second-most rushing touchdowns with 24. Versatile pass-rusher Joe Tyron can play at defensive end or outside linebacker. He’s explosive off the line and will create pressure to warrant double teams and free up the rest of the front seven.
Round 4, Pick 100 - Darius Stills, IDL, West Virginia
Despite having no picks until the third round, don’t be surprised if the Texans double down on defensive linemen. Stills would be a considerable upgrade for the Texans’ front seven. Houston was a middling team in terms of sacks, with 34 this past season. Obtaining more playmakers along the defensive line will help fill a void for the Texans. Watt recorded 52 tackles, while the next closest defensive lineman has only 34 (P.J. Hall). Any depth or starters they draft in 2021 should help their atrocious defense.
Round 4, Pick 113 (from Arizona) - Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
With veterans Vernon Hargreaves and Gareon Conely being unrestricted free agents, the Texans will need to address the cornerback position. The lengthy Taylor can be an asset in the passing game or against the run and he had a solid week of practice during the Senior Bowl (two tackles, one tackle for a loss and one pass deflection). He doesn’t seem to mind getting his nose dirty to make the tackle and is very physical. Taylor can play slot or outside corner, adding to the versatility around the field.
Round 5, Pick 131 - Quinn Meinerz, IOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater
No one made a bigger splash throughout Senior Bowl week than ‘The Gut’ from Wisconsin-Whitewater, as Meinerz came in during practices and dominated the competition, despite not playing a single game at center during his college career. In fact, the way his draft trajectory has skyrocketed, it’s possible he may be gone by this selection. If the Texans keep Watson, they need help to protect him and create rush lanes in the run attack.
Round 6, Pick 164 - Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State
Another agenda Houston should have is to get Watson more weapons. With the potential departure of Will Fuller in free agency, the Texans are thin on competent receivers. We only saw Darby in two games this season before an injury derailed his season. He did participate in the Senior Bowl, where he was able to muster one catch for 22 yards. Darby doesn't have top-end speed but is a very physical wide receiver that will challenge defensive backs at the catch point to make the play downfield.
Round 6, Pick 178 (from Miami) - Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma
Incumbent running back David Johnson surely didn't live up to the expectations from the fallout of the Hopkins trade. In 12 games, Johnson ran for over 600 yards and six touchdowns, while nabbing 33 receptions for 314 receiving yards. The Texans need more help in the backfield to complement Johnson. Enter the 6-foot, 240-pound Stevenson, who is a bulldozer of a runner that lives up to the ground and pound reputation that precedes him.
Round 6, Pick 188 (from New Orleans) - Shemar Jean-Charles, DB, Appalachian State
You can never have too much defensive back depth on your team. Jean-Charles presents that opportunity. Although playing against lower competition, Jean-Charles did precisely what he was supposed to. He only allowed a catch on 32.7% of passes thrown his way, while adding 17 pass deflections, according to Pro Football Focus. Jean-Charles has excellent field vision and isn't afraid to get physical with opposing receivers. Despite his lack of size, he has shown the ability to make plenty of plays.
Round 7, Pick 195 - Larry Borom, OL, Missouri
After addressing the secondary, attempting to help reinforce the offensive line would be a smart move. If not for injury, Broom would likely go much higher than this. He possesses ideal arm length and hand placement, along with natural instincts. Borom is outstanding in both pass protection and run blocking. If he does slip this far, he would be an absolute steal!
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