Houston Texans 2022 NFL Draft targets should include running back

Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports /

One glaring need for the Houston Texans is running back, but the 2022 NFL Draft can fix that.

When one thinks of the 2021 Houston Texans season that is officially completed, one of the negatives that will come to mind is the lack of a rushing game and the overall poor play of the running back unit.

Rex Burkhead led the Texans in rushing this season with under 500 yards on the ground, as he totaled 427 yards on 122 carries with three touchdowns, which also made him the co-leader in rushing touchdowns for the Texans in the 2021 season. His longest run of the season was 36 yards, as he made five starts and 16 games played, and Burkhead averaged 26.7 yards rushing per game.

Mark Ingram played only seven games for the Texans in ’21 before being traded to the New Orleans Saints. In his seven starts with Houston, the veteran running back finished second in rushing for the team with 294 yards rushing on 92 carries and one touchdown. Ingram averaged 3.2 yards per rush with Houston, and his longest run with the team was 24 yards.

The biggest disappointment of all for the Houston Texans rushing game was David Johnson, and there is nothing close. It isn’t the fact Johnson only rushed for 228 yards, or the fact he didn’t have a single rushing touchdown in the ’21 season.

The reason for the disappointment with Johnson is the Texans traded so much for him (DeAndre Hopkins) and got very little in return for his two seasons with the franchise. It has become one of the worst trades in NFL history (at least for the Texans) and the worst roster move made by the Texans in the history of the franchise.

Houston’s remaining running backs from the ’21 NFL season didn’t do too much either, as Phillip Lindsay collected 50 carries for 130 yards and one touchdown, Royce Freeman totaled 35 carries for 92 yards, Scottie Phillips had 13 yards on six carries and Jaylen Samuels finished with five carries for nine yards.

With all of those sub-par numbers for running backs this season there is no doubt the Texans must look at the 2022 NFL Draft as a way to improve their success at the position, because another poor season of running the football can’t happen if the rebuild wants to move forward.

This said, the franchise doesn’t need to use a first- or even second-round pick on a running back, but eventually at some point of the draft they will have to look at using one of their picks to add to the running game.

Johnson and Burkhead are both free agents this offseason, and the Texans should do what they can to keep Burkhead with the organization, and it would probably be best if they let Johnson find employment elsewhere.

Houston Texans Draft: Would the Texans use an early pick on a running back?

It is tough to believe the Texans would ever use a first-round pick on a running back as those days are mostly over for NFL teams, except in extreme cases where the player is too talented to pass on.

Houston needs to look into using a Day 2 choice on a running back, or at least one of their Day 3 picks on adding to the running game. Most likely, the scenario will be a second- or third-day pick will be used to make a choice at running back.

Some of the players the Texans could use at running back in the draft are Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State, Kyren Williams of Notre Dame, or even further down the running back rankings, Kennedy Brooks of Oklahoma.

Looking at Walker III he’s going to be one of the first running backs taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, but when is the question. According to the Bleacher Report Scouting Report on Walker, one of his positives is the following:

"“Very good burst through the hole and has enough speed to consistently bounce runs to the outside. Can get to the second level in a hurry and also has legit home run speed.”"

As the offseason sets in and it becomes apparent where the Texans are interested, the draft will be of great importance in adding one running back at some point.

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It will also be smart to add a quality veteran to the running back roster, and don’t forget improvement is needed on the o-line for the rushing game too.