HOUSTON — The Houston Texans have a first-round draft pick for the first time since 2019, and thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade, they have two selections in the opening round.
The Texans have the third overall pick in the draft, which begins Thursday, because of last year’s 4-13 finish, and received the 13th spot from Cleveland as one of three first-round picks they received as part of the deal for Watson.
They didn’t have a first-rounder in the last two drafts after sending those selections to Miami in the 2019 trade that brought left tackle Laremy Tunsil to Houston. This will be the second time in franchise history and the first since 2004 they’ve had two first-round picks.
Houston could use a quarterback since shipping Watson to the Browns after he sat out all last season following a trade request and lawsuits by 22 women alleging sexual assault or harassment. But the quarterback group in this year’s draft isn’t considered elite, and the Texans will likely try and fill one of the many other holes on the team.
“It’s not necessarily about specific players, it’s just about finding the right fit for what we’re trying to do,” general manager Nick Caserio said.
Caserio and the Texans moved into full rebuilding mode last season with Watson sitting out, and they traded or released their few remaining stars. Coach David Culley was fired just one season after being hired to replace Bill O’Brien, and Houston promoted defensive coordinator Lovie Smith to head coach in January.
Caserio knows it will be a big task to return the Texans to respectability and cautioned that even a high draft pick won’t be a magic pill to fix this franchise.
“No one player, no one thing is going to change this organization and it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “There’s a lot of work, and purposeful work, that’s going to go into it, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Will the Houston Texans make a trade in the NFL Draft?
With two first-round picks and 11 picks overall, Caserio was asked about the Texans making a trade during the draft. Caserio, a longtime executive with the Patriots before coming to Houston last January, said they’d be open to it.
“We’ll look at everything,” he said. “It goes back to what are you moving away from and what would you get in return?”
Houston Texans NFL Draft needs
Because this draft isn't considered a great one for QBs, and Houston seems content with Davis Mills for at least one more season, the Texans could look to beef up their defense with their first pick.
Smith would probably be happy if one of the top picks go toward improving the pass rush. Houston had just 32 in the first year without superstar rusher J.J. Watt.
A player they could target with the third pick is Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. The 6-foot-5, 258-pound Thibodeaux had 19 sacks in a three-year career with the Ducks.
If Houston decides to go with offense, Alabama OT/G Evan Neal or North Carolina State T Ikem Ekwonu could join Tunsil and help improve a line that allowed 44 sacks last season.
“When you get into the draft, you really don’t want to necessarily eliminate any position or particular player," Caserio said. “You just want to look at it... and just figure out what makes the most sense for the organization. It’s about picking good players, it’s about picking the right players that you think fit what you’re trying to do."
Houston Texans Draft history
The third overall pick is Houston’s earliest choice since selecting defensive end Jadeveon Clowney first in the 2014 draft.
The Texans have had the third pick just one other time and made one of their best draft moves with that selection: Andre Johnson with the second first-round pick in franchise history in 2003.
Johnson spent 12 years with the Texans, piling up seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons and leading the NFL in yards receiving in 2008 and 2009. He is the team’s all-time receiving leader with 1,012 receptions for 13,597 yards and 64 TDs.
What picks do the Houston Texans have in 2022?
Here are the Houston Texans draft picks heading into the 2022 NFL Draft as of April 26. The Texans acquired a second first-round selection as part of the trade of quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns in March.
Last year, the Texans only had five selections with the first one not coming until the third round when they picked quarterback Davis Mills.
- 80 (from New Orleans)
- 107 (From Cleveland Through Detroit)
- 170 (From New England)
- 205 (From Green Bay)
- 207 (From San Francisco through New York Jets)
- No picks
Who will the Texans pick in the 2022 NFL Draft?
With the plenty of needs to fill as the team continues to rebuild under Year 2 of the Nick Caserio regime, there are plenty of directions the Texans could go with their two first-round selections.
Caserio could even make more moves by packaging some of his picks together or gathering more by moving back.
Here are the selections the Locked On Texans Podcast has made for the Texans in their mock draft.
Pick No. 3 overall - Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Locked On Texans' John Hickman: "Gardner has the ability to completely take opposing WR out of the game plan and his game can easily translate to the pros. From day one, Gardner will Houston CB1 heading into the season."
Pick No. 13 overall - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Locked On Texans' Coty Davis: "The Houston Texans are all in on Davis Mills as their starting quarterback. The best way for the Texans to put Mill in the best position is to improve the wide receiver corps. Olave is one of the most promising wideouts entering the draft. His addition would give Mills more weapons to utilize next season, especially given that the team was able to keep Brandin Cooks."
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The Associated Press agrees with Locked On Texans on the No. 3 selection, but thinks the Texans will beef up their OL with pick No. 13:
Pick No. 3 overall - Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Texans elevated Lovie Smith to head coach and Lovie loves defensive studs. For the first time in 30 years, the top three are from that side of the ball.
Pick No. 13 overall - Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State
Part of the Deshaun Watson deal. Houston addressed the D-line and now goes to the other side.
NFL Draft prospects with ties to the Houston area
Texas A&M standout Kenyon Green ranks as one of the top interior offensive linemen in this draft class. Here is the AP’s breakdown of the star from Atascocita High School:
Kenyon Green, G, 6-4, 325, Texas A&M
Summary: Powerful and versatile lineman who played four different positions in his time with the Aggies. A punishing run blocker who has struggled some with recognition in pass blocking.
Fact: Father was an offensive lineman at Grambling and his mother played volleyball at UCLA.
Green is the only prospect to keep an eye on from the trenches. Logan Hall, who starred with the Houston Cougars, is expected to be selected in the early rounds.
Logan Hall, 6-6, 275, Houston
Summary: Physical specimen who never gives up on a play. Elbow surgery in December did not stop him from playing in the Senior Bowl.
Fact: Was used up and down the line at Houston, where he finished with 19 1/2 tackles for loss in 2021.
Another standout to keep on eye on is defensive back Jalen Pitre from Baylor. The defender starred locally at Stafford High School. Here's the AP breakdown on him:
Jalen Pitre, 5-11, 198, Baylor
Summary: Versatile, physical and aggressive near the line of scrimmage, but size suggests he needs to be better than he is in coverage at the next level.
Fact: All-American who led the Big 12 in tackles for loss (18) in 2021.