There is no doubt the Houston Texans added size to their defensive line with their final pick of the 2021 NFL Draft as they drafted Roy Lopez of Arizona to the depth chart of defensive tackles.
One of the big needs for the Texans going into this draft was adding more interior defensive linemen, especially since the Texans are going from a 3-4 to a 4-3 look in Love Smith’s Tampa 2 defense.
Lopez was the 195th overall pick of this draft, and the Texans traded up to select Lopez, so they for one must think he has potential to trade away other late-round picks and end their draft with the selection of the Arizona Wildcat.
Lopez played in five different seasons at the collegiate level, with the first four being at New Mexico State, and this past season he played in five games at Arizona. While at Arizona, Lopez totaled 10 solo tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack and overall he had 18 tackles.
In his four seasons at New Mexico State — playing in the Sun Belt Conference — Lopez played in a total of 39 games, where he had 43 solo tackles, 36 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and one forced fumble.
Now how will he help the Houston Texans if he makes the roster for the 2021 season? For starters, he can take up some space on the interior defensive line, and he does have the talent to help stop the run, which for the Texans was a huge issue in the 2020 season, as that defense was one of the worst in the league at stopping the run.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote this in a draft profile on Lopez before he was drafted by the Texans:
“He has the size and potential to find work as a backup nose with decent run-clogging ability.”
This selection of Lopez is exactly that, a player who can be a backup and help the Houston Texans in run-stopping situations, and if that is the case, then this is a solid choice. Should the Texans have looked at the interior defensive line earlier in the draft? The answer is yes, but if Lopez makes the roster, and can be “decent” at clogging the run, then this will be a nice pick by the Texans to conclude their 2021 Draft efforts.
This isn’t the most star-studded pick, even in the sixth round, but the hope here is Lopez becomes a solid professional and can make a name for himself at defensive tackle.
Lopez has excellent coaching with Lovie Smith and others … now only time will tell if Lopez will be a day three draft steal once the ’21 season rolls around.
Draft Grade: C+