The Houston Texans did not stay quiet during 2021 NFL free agency, doling out millions to more than two dozen veteran additions to kick off a rebuild under new coach David Culley. Unfortunately, very few of their moves figure to solve any of their biggest issues, which means this month's draft will be especially important. Without picks in the first and second rounds, of course, using this year's draft class to add talent will be easier said than done. And that's not even accounting for the fact that star quarterback Deshaun Watson may or may not be available when games begin in September. So, what lies ahead for the Texans? Which rookies could be on their radar? Which positions will they prioritize with their eight selections?
Here's one stab at how the Texans' entire 2021 draft will play out:
|Round (Overall Pick)||Prospect||College|
WR Nico Collins
QB Kellen Mond
DE Milton Williams
OLB Elerson Smith
TE Kenny Yeboah
|6 (203)||CB Antonio Phillips||Ball State|
|6 (212)||OG Carson Green||Texas A&M|
|7 (233)||S Paris Ford||Pittsburgh|
The Texans have so many long-term needs that they could pick a player at just about any position in the third. (Just not kicker or punter, which wouldn't be a shock considering the way this Houston offseason has unfolded.) Here, we have them adding a size-speed specimen to a wide receiver corps headlined by Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and Keke Coutee. Not a single one of those veterans is guaranteed to be on the roster, let alone starting, in a year or two. So Collins would make lots of sense as a developmental outside target, especially with Will Fuller now soaking up the sun in Miami.
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Mond, in the fourth, would make for a splashy (and smart) start to Day Three. Regardless of whether the nearly two dozen allegations of sexual misconduct against Watson are true, it's growing increasingly possible that the Pro Bowl QB will be unavailable for the Texans come fall. Watson, remember, reportedly doesn't want to stay with the team anyway and could still hold out for a trade in the event he isn't suspended. Either way, the situation seems as if it'll be foggy for a while, which means Houston will be in dire need of QB help. Tyrod Taylor is in place as an emergency stopgap, but Mond brings Colin Kaepernick-like dual-threat traits that could ignite at least a portion of the fan base in 2021 and beyond.
Williams and Smith, the projected fifth-rounders here, would help shore up a 3-4 front seven that's now without J.J. Watt at defensive end and could use long-term depth behind vets like Whitney Mercilus at outside linebacker. Yeboah, meanwhile, could challenge for starting snaps at tight end with his pass-catching skills. Phillips would offer depth at cornerback, where the Texans have too often relied on low-risk gambles like Vernon Hargreaves. Green and Ford could similarly add competition along the O-line and in the secondary.