As you may have read in my Texans free agency post, the picture for the Texans’ roster going into the rest of the offseason has become much more clear. The major questions have been asked (A.J. Bouye) and answered (let him go), in one case with an answer nobody expected (we can get rid of Brock Osweiler by paying the Cleveland Browns to take him).
Since the Texans lost several contributors, even starters, and didn’t make much attempt to fill those losses — they were the only team in the league not to sign a free agent from another team — I’d assume they will use the draft to address certain positions where these losses have made them thin or they are otherwise.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the Texans is whether or not they will look for their quarterback of the future in the draft. With that in mind, I’ve put together two mock drafts, one in which they take a quarterback early, and one in which they don’t. Here’s what the first one looks like.
Round 1, Pick 25: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
I’m on the record as being a big fan of Mahomes. His numbers are inflated because of Texas Tech’s all-passing all-the-time Air Raid offense, but don’t let that discourage you: Mahomes is a sharp decision-maker with a great arm who shows a lot of ability to extend plays, a la Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, or, dare I say it, Brett Favre. Players like Mahomes are often criticized as being unable to play within structure; I don’t think this is the case here, as with the film I’m watched, Mahomes is comfortable staying in the pocket when it’s clean. But he also makes a ton of plays when he has to, and he’s comfortable throwing on the run. I’m not worried about any supposed mechanical concerns as long as he continues to deliver accurate passes. He’ll make the occasional bad decision or messy throw, but by and large he’s consistent. I’m not sure he’ll be available here — it only takes one team to fall in love with a player for him to be drafted highly — but if he is, and it’s fair to suggest given his current ranking by many publicly available draft services, he’s a great pick for the Texans.
Round 2, Pick 57: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
While Brian Cushing had a good year last season, between his age and injury history (as well as his salary), the Texans have to be thinking about life after him at some point. Davis is a good athlete with good instincts who aggressively takes on blockers well and can also handle some coverage to boot; he would fit well in the Texans’ 3-4. Coaches love his work ethic, and on top of that, he was a special teams ace his early years at Florida and should be able to contribute there in the NFL as well.
Round 3, Pick 89: Marcus Williams, S, Utah
The team didn’t make an effort to beat the Chicago Bears’ three-year offer to safety Quinton Demps, so they’ll be looking for a new starter at the position. Williams is more of a free safety than a strong safety, but his combination of athleticism and instincts can add too much to the back end of the defense for the Texans to pass on him here.
Round 4, Pick 130: Will Holden, OT, Vanderbilt
Holden is a bit of a project and may not be ready to start right away, but he does have talent. The team is looking at a gaping hole at right tackle, between Derek Newton’s injuries and Chris Clark’s terrible play. If they can’t find a short-term solution on the veteran market, Holden may have to step in at right tackle. He has some potential to develop into a long-term left tackle.
Round 4, Pick 142: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
This is a pick looking at the long term. Butt was projected as a second-round player before tearing his ACL in Michigan’s bowl game. He’s got the all-around game to be a solid starter in the NFL, and when healthy may offer a more dynamic option in the receiving game than C.J. Fiedorowicz or Ryan Griffin. Of course, there’s also a chance that won’t be the case until 2018.
Round 5, Pick 169: D.J. Jones, DT, Ole Miss
Vince Wilfork is likely to retire, though he hasn’t made an official announcement. D.J. Jones is a very large man who is also a pretty good athlete for his size, and he should pair up with D.J. Reader in Houston to make for a nice D.J. set at nose tackle.
Round 7, Pick 243: Tarean Folston, RB, Notre Dame
The Texans are fond of taking running backs late in the draft, so I thought I’d look for one here. Folston was expected to be a higher pick in the 2016 draft, but he tore his ACL after the third week of the 2015 season and decided to come back to school to play a healthy season and try to improve his draft stock. Unfortunately, he’d lost the starting job to Josh Adams and didn’t get it back. Still, Folston has talent, and if he gets back to his old form, he could be a good change-of-pace back, and at worst can contribute on special teams.