As sure as the sun will rise, NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper will release mock drafts. And with his first of 2022, Kiper has the Houston Texans going for arguably the best player available.
In this mock with the third overall pick (assuming they don't trade up/down), Houston takes Alabama 6-7, 350-pound left tackle Evan Neal.
The bright spot, of course, was the improvement of rookie third-round pick Davis Mills, who played his way into potentially being the opening-day starting quarterback in 2022, but the Texans have holes all over their roster. I think they'd take Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux here if either fell out of the top two, but Neal could be a 15-year starter at tackle or guard; he played both at Alabama before settling in at left tackle. Houston has Laremy Tunsil at that spot, but a thumb injury forced him out of 12 games this season. General manager Nick Caserio & Co. could take Neal and figure out his best position later, not unlike what the Lions did with Penei Sewell in the 2021 draft. - Mel Kiper, ESPN.
Given that near enough all positions could be seen as "positions of need," Texans general manager Nick Caserio has the luxury of simply focusing on the best player available. Not to mention that Houston's offensive line allowed 44 sacks this year, and had a big part to play in their rushing offense ranking last in the NFL.
Neal's arrival would also allow Tytus Howard to move back to right tackle, where he has looked far more at ease during his three years in Houston.
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A starting lineup including Tunsil, Neal and Howard would be a solid foundation to build from and provide some consistent protection to allow Mills to continue his growth.
Alternatively, the Texans could look to move on from Tunsil in order to free up some of the $52.9 million in cap hit he's due over the next two years.
This would allow Neal and Howard to develop into the long-term answers either as bookends to this line or a solid left side.
Either way, this would be a welcome move for Mills or the next Houston quarterback.