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2022 NFL Draft: Houston Texans positional needs

Look everyone, it’s no secret that the Houston Texans have a lot of room for improvement roster-wise. A popular running joke this offseason of various editions is to list the team’s draft needs as “EVERYTHING,” and honestly, if you listen to the collective cacophony that is the voice of Houston fans, you won’t hear much disagreement.

Now, there’s an upside to having what Houston Chronicle writers last year called “worst houston texans team ever.” When the team enters the NFL Draft in less than a month, he can employ a commonly advertised strategy of taking the “best player available” (BPA) instead of recruiting players to certain positions in order to meet specific needs. Trust me, I’m here to tell you: the Texans better draft for BPA this year.

However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and during the Steel Blue Squad’s crusade to find their former playoff glories, the draft is only half of the rebuilding equation, the other half being the Free Agency. And in case you haven’t been following the 5,439 contracts Caserio has handed out over the past year and a half, there have been a few changes to the roster.

I did some consolidation of information, studied the current state of the team list status, and while a surface-level survey might say “literally just draft or sign any talented player possible,” there are certain position groups that need those talented players more than others. Today, I’m here to give you the three groups of positions that most need an overhaul in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.

To note: I exclude the quarterback from the analysis here on purpose. With the departure of Deshaun Watson, the Texans will resume the seemingly endless search for a breakthrough franchise QB. But with the relatively unknown talent of Davis Mills coming out of a solid (even if banal) rookie season, I decide to leave this position group alone.

#3: Security:

According to Pro Football Focus, the Texans secondary ranked dead last in the NFL at the end of the 2021 season, and that was with former Texan Justin Reid on the list. After losing Reid at the Kansas City Chiefs, the Texans find themselves with a positional group led by Eric Murray and four other guys who made up just 30% of the defensive snaps the team took last year.

A few weeks ago, the Texans were still adding another backup security of the Cleveland Browns in 5th year, former second-round pick MJ Stewart. Stewart played both free safety and hard safety for the Browns behind starters Grant Delpit and John Johnson. He played 29% of Cleveland’s defensive snaps, took the field on 51% of special teams snaps, and was particularly good at coverage according to PFF (with an 86 coverage rating in 2021). Despite his addition, it’s safe to say Lovie Smith and Caserio will have to replace Reid’s 66 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.

Potential 2022 NFL Draft targets I like (with projected turn): Kyle Hamilton (1), Dax Hill (1/2), Lewis Cine (2), Kerby Joseph (3/4), Nick Cross (4 /5)

#2: Edge Rusher:

Take a look at some of the high caliber teams from last year’s playoffs: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, the LA Rams, the common denominator: great quarterbacks who throw the ball a lot. What stops a great quarterback who throws the ball a lot? Hasty pass. Bags. In 2021, the Texans were the fifth-worst team in the league in sacks (32). At the start of the season last year, the NFL Spinzone ranked starting pass duosand ranked Houston 29th with its duo of Shaq Lawson and Whitney Mercilus, neither of whom remain on the list (). Even with breakout defensive end Jonathan Greenard (8 sacks in 2021), the Texans desperately need several players who can stick their ears out and get to the quarterback.

As for free agency, Caserio continued his philosophy of “not signing big names yet” with the EDGE group, but did sign fifth-year rusher Ogbo Okoronkwo off the LA Rams roster to a contract. ‘a year. Okoronkwo (out of Alief, TX) played outside linebacker for the Rams (often rushing from a 2-point position) and was a rotation player. The moral of the story here is: JJ Watt is gone and the team isn’t close to replacing him yet. It’s time to bring another monster to the defensive line that can scare in the hearts of the league’s QBs.

Potential 2022 NFL Draft targets I like (with projected turn): Kayvon Thibodeaux (1), Jermaine Johnson (1), Arnold Ebiketie (2), Sam Williams (3/4)

#1: Interior Offensive Line:

The weakest unit currently on the Houston Texans is the interior offensive line. Last season, the Texans ranked 29th in the final PFF offensive line rankings, dead last in ESPN’s advanced stat.”run blocks win rate“, and 27th overall for “successful block success rate”. playing about 30 different positions in his first two years as a Texan, etc.), I think talent is a huge issue in this group. For a team that wants to focus on a power-running program under the offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, it would help find players who can actually block in both center and guard positions over the next few years of rebuilding.

The only real notable addition to the team this offseason has been AJ Cann (former Jaguars guard). Cann only played four games last season (MCL tear) and teamed up again under new OL coach George Warhop (former O line coach for JAX). Cann has been a quality starter in Jacksonville, but is not the grader who blocks the run and changes the identity of an offensive line. To me, that’s a position the Texans could invest several draft picks in during draft weekend in late April. The flashbacks to the old days of poor David Carr being turned into human putty after snapping are just too real. Invest in the O line, Nick. Please.

Potential 2022 NFL Draft targets I like (with projected turn): Ikem Ekwonu (1), Zion Johnson (1), Kenyon Green (1/2), Tyler Smith (2/3), Darian Kinnard (2 /3), Jamaree Salyer (3/4), Cole Strange (3/4)

The Texas organization has the highest value of draft capital in recent memory (both in quality and quantity of picks), and has a huge opportunity to continue rebuilding through exciting, action-hungry young college players. of the NFL. We won’t be able to fully gauge the success of Nick Caserio’s 2022 picks for years to come, but if the Health Maniac himself can invest in the aforementioned groups of positions, this year’s player score could do a lot to change the l identity of a struggling franchise.

No pressure, Mr. Casserole.