Houston Texans Draft: Alim McNeill is needed for defensive line in 2021

Alim McNeill, Houston Texans

North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive tackle Alim McNeill (29) Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The rebuild of the Houston Texans is currently happening this offseason, and another step in this lengthy process could happen in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft if Alim McNeill, a defensive tackle from North Carolina State, is still on the board.

McNeill was a first-team All-ACC selection this past season, as the 320-pound defensive tackle collected six solo tackles with one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and he even had an 18-yard interception for a touchdown to help earn those honors in 2020.

Over at NFL.com, the prospect grade for McNeill is 6.14, meaning that he’s a good backup and can become a starter in the league. To be honest, that description works for the Houston Texans in 2021 because this team needs depth on the defensive line in the worst way.

In his three seasons with NC State, McNeil had 10 sacks with 5.5 in ’19 and 3.5 in ’18. On the other hand, in a description about McNeill by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, some of the weaknesses listed about McNeill include “Unable to quickly shed and rid blocks due to lack of length,” and “limited range to tackle working off of blocks.”

Houston Texans: There are positives within Alim McNeill’s game

That said, Zierlein also listed some strengths about McNeill including “three-for-one big man with power, explosiveness and athleticism.” Those words can be exciting for Houston Texans fans who just want to see some excitement out of the defensive line in 2021.

With Lovie Smith now the defensive coordinator, his vast experience of the defensive game and most recently working with collegiate athletes can and will improve the Texans’ defense compared to a season ago, as they were one of the worst units in all of the league.

One of the worst stats from the Houston Texans defense last year was they were 32nd in turnovers forced (nine), interceptions (three), and where McNeill can help at the most … rushing yards allowed at 2,564 yards in 16 games.

The rushing yards allowed by the Texans can’t happen again in 2021, or it will be more of the same in the loss column. With McNeill possibly being an addition to the defensive line, it would be nice for the Texans to have another young player next to Ross Blacklock as he enters his second season with Houston, and the two could grow this Texans rebuild together.

It might be a stretch to say McNeill makes it to the third round, but with the Houston Texans having an early third-round pick at 67th overall, this is a player who could fall to the Texans. If he’s there, he must be considered at this spot to help shore up and improve the interior defensive line for the foreseeable future of this franchise.