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NFL Mock Draft: Texans Go Defense with Four Early Picks?

The Houston Texans have five picks in the first four rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, and Pro Football Network has Houston going defense-heavy.

For the first time in well over a decade, the Houston Texans don't have a 'star' name in their defensive front. Pro Football Network's latest four-round NFL mock draft amends this problem.

The Texans are sitting pretty with the third overall pick. To kick things off, PFN has Houston picking arguably the biggest name in this year's draft - Michigan defensive end, Aidan Hutchinson. Explains PFN:

The Houston Texans were an early favorite to address the quarterback position in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, the murkiness of the class and the emergence of Davis Mills as a more than viable QB option have made that less of a priority at the top of the draft. There are, after all, a multitude of needs on one of the NFL’s most barren rosters. 

Think back to when the Texans were a successful force in the league. They were a dominating defensive franchise led by J.J. Watt. In this 2022 4-Round NFL Mock Draft, the Texans snag their Watt of the future. Aidan Hutchinson has taken college football by storm this year. 

A powerful defensive lineman who possesses a ridiculous first step, the Michigan man’s ability to stop the run in a division that contains Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, and James Robinson will be as important as his pass-rush ability. - Oliver Hodgkinson, PFN.

The 2021 Heisman Trophy runner-up was a consensus All-American and first-team All-Big 10 member won (amongst numerous other accolades) the Rotary Lombardi Award, the Ted Hendricks Award, and the Lott IMPACT Trophy. 

Aidan Hutchinson
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If that wasn't enough, Hutchinson was also named the Woodson-Nagurski Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. The 6-6, 265-pound Michigan native had 14 sacks his senior year as well as 16.5 tackles for a loss, three defended passes, two forced fumbles and 62 combined tackles in 14 games.

Combine this all with the fact that Hutchinson himself said that he'd "love to play for the Texans" - and he seems like (famous last words) a sure thing for Houston.

Moving on from a potential face of the franchise, PFN has Houston adding Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick with the 37th pick.

An Associated Press and Coaches’ All-SEC 2nd-Team member, and the Orange Bowl's defensive MVP, Kendrick measures 6-0 and 190 pounds. Having spent three years at Clemson before transferring to Georgia, Kendrick led the Bulldogs with four interceptions during his 15 starts in 2021.

A two-time National Championship winner, Kendrick has some off-the-field concerns which may hurt his draft stock.

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PFN then follows Kendrick by a fellow Bulldog in the form of wide receiver George Pickens with pick 68.

A 6-3, 200-pound junior, Pickens missed the majority of the season thanks to an ACL injury he suffered in March. However, his record the two years prior is far more promising. Pickens finished his rookie year with 727 yards receiving, following this with 513 in 2020.

Some have concerns due to his body composition and durability, which could slide him to the later rounds. If Pickens can stay healthy and add to his frame, he could be a huge steal for an NFL team. - Robert Gregson, SI.

With the 80th pick, Houston looks to add to a position of real uncertainty in recent years with Texas A&M safety Leon O’Neal Jr.

A Cypress, Texas native, O'Neal saved his best year for last at A&M. He had a career-high two interceptions, seven defended passes, 58 combined tackles, and one sack. At 6-1, 210 pounds, SI's NFL Draft Bible said that "O’Neil Jr excels near the line of scrimmage," however, "limited coverage capability may affect his stock and he is currently projected as a day three pick."

To finish off the fourth round, with the 130th pick PFN has Houston selecting LSU linebacker, Damone Clark.

Described by LSU as "One of the top linebackers in LSU history," Clark recorded 135 combined tackles which were good for second-most nationwide. Named second-team All-SEC, Clark is 6-3, 240 pounds, and leaves Baton Rouge with an impressive 249 tackles to his name.

He was undoubtedly one of the most improved players in the country and became a finalist for the Butkus Award before ultimately losing out to Georgia's Nakobe Dean. Always a phenomenal leader for this group, where Clark really improved was in his coverage, his tackling and in the ability to use his hands at the line of scrimmage. - Glen West, SI. 

The 2022 NFL Draft is April 28-30.