Despite a busy free agency period, the Houston Texans still have plenty of needs entering an NFL Draft that will be extremely tough given the team has no first or second-round picks at their disposal.
As such, they will need to maximize their returns from every available pick if they are to get keep rebuild on track.
Thankfully for the Houston, there's no denying who is calling the shots come draft day. First-year GM Nick Caserio has been outspoken since his arrival in the fact that ultimately it is he who makes every footballing decision.
The vast majority of the players Caserio has recently acquired are on one or two-year deals, meaning the long-term security of the affected positions hasn't really altered drastically since the legal tampering period began.
The top of the list has to be their defense which needs reinforcements.
With defensive coordinator Lovie Smith bringing in his 4-3 'Tampa 2' scheme, the traits required from the players within his front seven are different from prior Texans defenses which have mostly been built around a 3-4 layout.
Offensively the Texans have, in theory, has its starting set. The long-term answers at wide receiver, running back, tight end, and potentially quarterback remains in question.
When it comes to specific draft needs it would be easier to list the positions the team doesn't need resolving rather than those they do.
That being said, the top priority has to be cornerback. That's followed by defensive tackle, and defensive end. There are a number of cornerbacks in particular who look like relatively safe bets where the Texans will be selecting at pick 67.
But which is the "best player available" when on the clock?
Washington CB Elijah Molden
Likely seen as primarily a slot corner, the 22-year old measured in at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds and looks a sure thing. Named by Pro Football Focus as their Pac-12 Player of the Year, Molden was also named First-Team All-Pac-12 for the second straight season in 2020. In four seasons as a Husky, Molden allowed just two touchdowns per PFF, both coming in 2019.
Stanford CB Paulson Adebo
During Adebo's two active seasons as a Cardinal, his productivity shone through, recording eight interceptions and 38 defended passes in 22 games. Named All-Pac-12 in both 2019 and 2020, Adebo is more of the prototypical outside corner, standing tall at 6-foot-1 and 198 lbs. The Mansfield, Texas native is a rangy and athletic ball-hawk who would be an impact player from the get-go.
Georgia CB Eric Stokes
Another rangy outside receiver at 6-foot-1, Stokes brings bucket loads of patience. The Bulldog sticks like glue to his receivers and has an eye for the ball, recording 26 defended passes during his three years at Georgia and four interceptions in 2020 alone - second most in the SEC.
Georgia CB Tyson Campbell
Going from tall to taller, the 6-foot-2 fellow UGA alum is similar to current Texans defensive back Lonnie Johnson in both build and aggressiveness. A rock-solid corner playing both inside and out, Campbell recorded five pass breakups in 2020, joint-most on the team.
Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr.
Son of a Super Bowl champion, two-time First-Team All-Pro, and four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Samuel Jr. is yet another safe bet should he still be available at No. 67. An aggressive tackler who brings agility and consistent production, Samuel may not be the tallest prospect (5-foot-10, 180 lbs), but he's the kind of player who really jumps off the screen and would be a day one starter. He will be a steal wherever he goes.
Should the Texans opt against going for a cornerback here, which given their need at the position feels unlikely, a personal favorite at 67 would be defensive tackle Jay Tufele out of USC.
At 6-3 306 pounds, Tufele has the frame and power to be the run-stuffing anchor this Texans defensive front has missed since D.J. Reader left the last offseason.
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