Houston Texans: Kenny Willekes could bring possible value in 2nd round
The Houston Texans are in need of adding a pass rusher, and one player who could be a second-round selection for them is Kenny Willekes.
There is never a shortage of players for the Houston Texans to scout and keep an eye out on during this draft process, and improving the pass rush has to be at the top or near the top of the list for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Kenny Willekes could be one of those players, and he just might be available when it is the Texans’ turn to make a pick in the second round, as they don’t have a first-round pick at this point of the offseason.
Houston battled injuries at defensive end last season, and when J.J. Watt was injured and didn’t return until the playoffs, it wasn’t what the Texans needed at that time. Also remember the Texans traded Jadeveon Clowney last offseason, and this would be a good time for the Texans to add to their pass rush with their second-round choice.
Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network wrote about the “First Step Explosiveness” of Willekes and some of his tendencies when in a three point stance in a draft profile of the Michigan State standout:
"“He’s bursty. Wouldn’t consider him a high end explosive athlete but he’s smooth out of stance and constantly wins when he’s coiled into a three point stance to collapse off the edge. Acceleration continues through first few steps well to close down off the open side”"
The 6-4, 260-pound Willekes finished his final season at Michigan State with 32 solo tackles, 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. In his three seasons with the Spartans, Willekes totaled 26 sacks, including 8.5 sacks in ’18 and seven sacks in ’17.
In his final game, which was the PinStripe Bowl, Willekes totaled four solo sacks, 1.5 sacks and had a forced fumble. In fact, during Willekes’s last five games he had at least one sack, with three games of 1.5 sacks with the other two being against Illinois and Maryland, while he had one sack each against Michigan and Rutgers.
In the Senior Bowl, Willekes had two sacks for the North team, adding to his already impressive draft stock that has him right now as a second-round choice.
Though the Texans have Watt, he is entering his 10th season in the NFL, all with the Texans, meaning the Texans need to start thinking about the future of their defense. The addition of Willekes could be a great step in the direction of improving a defense that completely folded in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
This past season, defensive ends Watt and Angelo Blackson, and outside linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Brennan Scarlett, all combined for 16 sacks in the regular season with Watt having four in eight games, while Blackson had one, Scarlett totaled 3.5 and Mercilus totaled 7.5 in one of his best overall seasons.
Watt had his final regular season sack in Week 5, while Blackson’s lone sack was Week 9. Scarlett’s last sack of the regular season was also in Week 9, a game where he had two of his 3.5 sacks in 2019.
Mercilus had two sacks in Week 16, but before those two sacks his most recent sack was Week 7 where he collected a half sack. The most recent full sack by Mercilus came in Week 4.
In the most recent CBS Sports draft prospect rankings, Willekes is ranked 134th overall in their Top 150, listed as an EDGE player, so there is a great chance Willekes could be available in the second round when it is time for the Texans to make their choice late in the second round.
Like stated in previous articles, the Texans have a huge decision to make with their second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and considering Willekes at this point of the draft process isn’t that bad of a thought this time of year.