Houston Texans 2020 NFL Draft: Darnay Holmes could be Day 3 option

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 01: Defensive back Darnay Holmes of UCLA runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 01: Defensive back Darnay Holmes of UCLA runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans can add to their cornerback roster with a sleeper on the third day of the 202 NFL Draft.

In the Lindy’s Draft magazine, one player  is listed as not only a fourth-round projection, but a sleeper in the 2020 NFL Draft. He plays at a need position for the Texans, and his name is Darnay Holmes.

Holmes played his collegiate football at UCLA, and the 5-10, 195-pound cornerback recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds at the 2020 NFL Combine and had a 225-pound bench press of 12 reps at the same event.

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The UCLA cornerback does need to add to his overall game with NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein having the following opinion on Holmes when it comes to weakness in his game, with a couple being “below-average instincts from off coverage and route anticipation and response quickness missing the mark.”

All players have weaknesses, and Holmes is no different, but Zierlein also gave some strengths that the UCLA cornerback possesses as well, with a couple of those being “smoothness in backpedal from off coverage,” and “well-built and strong.”

In three seasons with the UCLA Bruins, Holmes played in 35 games with 10 games played last season as he missed the first two games of the year. In the 10 games he played in, Holmes had 23 solo tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions, six passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

In his three years with the Bruins, Holmes totaled 88 solo tackles (120 total tackles), three tackles for loss, eight career interceptions, two touchdowns, 17 passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

Another aspect of Holmes’ game is his ability to play special teams and in ’19 on kick returns — which is a spot the Texans can always improve on — the cornerback totaled one return for 20 yards, but for his collegiate career Holmes had 38 returns (33 as a freshman) for 878 yards (23.1 yards per return) with one touchdown.

As a sophomore, Holmes returned one punt, but most of his return work came as a freshman with UCLA, but that could be another way for him to make an NFL roster in ’20. Holmes is also the son of former Buffalo Bills running back Darick Holmes, who played with the franchise from 1995-98.

Now how could Holmes help the Texans if he were to be drafted in the fourth round or later by the Texans? It is no secret the Texans need to add players at cornerback, as their overall defense wasn’t as good as it needed to be by allowing 388.3 yards per game last season. Within those numbers, the Texans allowed 267.2 passing yards per game, which was 29th in the league.

The team also showed many glaring holes in the secondary in the Divisional Round playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, as we all know how that went from a high to an embarrassing loss to end the season.

Adding more depth at cornerback will help that, and even if the Texans do select a higher-tier cornerback in the second round — the Texans have no first- or third-round pick at the moment — using one of their two fourth-round choices on a potential sleeper could work out in their favor.

The Texans have Bradley Roby, Johnathan Joseph, Vernon Hargreaves and Phillip Gaines as players who are free agents that played for the team last season at cornerback, and in all honesty, if any of those four players return it will be a surprise.

Houston is looking elsewhere to repair their secondary, and at cornerback the draft seems like a very good way to start building some depth at the position.

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Don’t overlook Holmes, because if he does become a member of the Texans following the draft, he might become a player we all get to know well early on in his career.