The draft is not for a while and we all know how little mock drafts matter this early in the season but let’s go ahead and do something we’ll regret later when we look back on it. For the sake of argument we’ll give the Texans the 32nd overall pick and countdown the players that should be considered when April’s draft comes around.
11. Barkevious Mingo
He wasn’t considered the best defensive lineman on his team at the beginning of the year but because he has such a freakish skill set it is not ridiculous to think that Mingo could go number one in April’s draft. That being said Jason Pierre-Paul fell simply because he hadn’t done it consistently and he was the biggest freak in recent memory meaning that the Texans could see Mingo fall into their laps at 32. Whether he took over for Antonio Smith or played outside linebacker is irrelevant as it would put another premier pass rusher on the field.
12. Chance Warmack
I would like to think that Ben Jones is as good as we all think he is and that he will be the long term answer at right guard. If that’s true and he finishes the season strong then this pick would become a luxury pick that would solve for the ensuing end of Wade Smith’s career at left guard. Regardless, if Warmack falls to 32 there is no way the Texans can let him get away.
13. Justin Hunter
Justin Hunter is a great receiver but he is also in an offense that throws it significantly more than they run it. His numbers this year have been good and probably have seen increases due to the fact that Da’Rick Rogers was kicked off of the team at the beginning of the year. He isn’t the kind of receiver the Texans normally look for but his pure play-making ability may be too much to pass up that late in the draft.
14. Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray is a guy whose draft stock has plummeted this year. It’s hard to say this early in the season which quarterback will skyrocket thanks to bumps from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, but Murray fits the Texans scheme perfectly. He can make all of the throws and has the best play action in college football this year. He has led an offense similar to the Texans through the SEC this year and so far has a single loss and could see themselves in the National Championship. While Barkley is a better passer, Murray is a better fit for the Texans offense and would be a pick that isn’t out of the realm of possibilities in the late first round.
15. Sylvester Williams
North Carolina continues to put out phenomenal defensive players even if they can’t win games and they did it again this year with Williams. He is in the 4-3 playing tackle meaning he could stay inside and play nose or learn under Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt on how to be a 3-4 end, but either way he is a top-ten talent and if he falls the Texans wouldn’t hesitate to scoop him up.
16. Johnathan Hankins
Hankins is another one of the 4-3 tackles that the Texans could consider when April comes around. He has had a great year and could easily return to Ohio State to try for a National Championship, but he is a guy that has such a skill set that couldn’t be passed up at the end of the first round.
17. Jonathan Cooper
Cooper is a very likely pick without having to move at all. Offensive guards don’t tend to get drafted early in the first round and as the second best guard in the draft it is even less likey Cooper goes before 32. That being said, to have someone learning under Wade Smith before his inevitable retirement in the next few years would be invaluable especially when it is someone as skilled as Cooper.
18. Dallas Thomas
Thomas is a left tackle in a perfect world as he is known more for his pass blocking presence than his run blocking. Duane Brown is obviously the left tackle of the future for the Texans meaning that if they took Thomas he would be a right tackle, but that is entirely possible. He is a great young player that certainly has the ability necessary to play the opposite tackle spot and give the Texans an even better pass protection than they have had this year.
19. Sam Montgomery
Sam Montgomery to me is one of the best players in this year’s draft but will be overlooked because we’ve known it for so long. The draft is a very “what have you done for me lately” kind of thing and because Mingo is a sexier player Montgomery could easily fall to the Texans at 32 and they would get an absolute steal. I think of him as an almost identical player to Antonio Smith and that pick would give the Texans the best young pass rush in the league without question.
20. Shawn Williams
Again this is a likely pick as Scouts Inc. has him rated as the 31st prospect meaning he could easily be there for the Texans at 32. If so he would provide the Texans the playmaker they’ve always lacked at safety and allow Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, and Brice McCain to play even more aggressively.