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Does Future Standout NFL Pass Rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux Fit Texans Mold?

Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux is an fine fit for Lovie Smith's scheme with the Houston Texans

HOUSTON -- As the picture becomes clearer on where the Houston Texans are headed in 2022, so do some options in the NFL Draft. Houston, which will select third overall this April, could go a variety of ways when on the clock. 

One of the smartest options would be to grab a player that fits new head coach Lovie Smith's scheme. That player could be Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux is considered by many the top prospect in the 2022 draft. Although his final season with the Ducks might have been a tad underwhelming, the upside is tremendous for any team looking for a do-it-all defensive end. 

Smith, who served as Houston's defensive coordinator last season, will still call the defensive plays in 2022. That means the zone-based 4-3 scheme will be implemented once more. 

The hope is impact players, such as linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, cornerback Desmond King, defensive tackle Maliek Collins and safety Justin Reid, will all re-sign to play under Smith. But even if general manager Nick Caserio is able to retain the top talent defensively, Houston needs to add a young pass rusher. 

Last season, second-year defensive end Jonathan Greenard broke out in the new scheme, recording a team-high eight sacks to go along with 24 pressures. Outside of him, though, no one stood out pressuring the quarterback. 

Thibodeaux certainly is an upgrade over the names currently on the roster. Best of all, rookie contracts are more affordable than paying top dollar for a vet free agent looking for a massive deal. 

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Thibodeaux is a 6-5 defensive end who provides a unique blend of power, size, and speed off the edge. In his final season at Oregon, Thibodeaux recorded 49 tackles, 12 tackles for losses, and seven sacks in 10 games. 


The Texans don't control everything here. The Jacksonville Jaguars need help on both sides of the football and own the top selection. The Detroit Lions are selecting No. 2 overall and could address their need for a prime pass-rusher. 

Thibodeaux and Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson both fit Smith's mold, but it would be hard to imagine the Lions passing on a player with ties to the state. If the Jaguars were to select an offensive tackle to protect second-year wonder quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Houston would be in play for whichever pass rusher falls to No. 3. 

Of course, Caserio isn't opposed to moving down for more picks. Last month, the Texans GM said that the team was "open for business" if the right trade presented itself. 

"Whether or not we stay at three, that's a whole separate discussion, and we'll talk about the draft a little bit later," Caserio said. "So, I think there's some pretty good things in place."

Should Thibodeaux and Hutchinson be off the board, the Texans very well could be moving back to gain more picks. If Thibodeaux is in play, it would be hard to imagine Smith and company going in a different direction.