Houston Texans Mock Draft #1: 7-Round Mock Draft After the Senior Bowl

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Draft season is upon us, as we just wrapped up the showcase games. Toro Times covered the Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, breaking down players to watch from the events. Now that the head coach has been hired, it’s time we start looking toward free agency and the draft. What better way to get started than dropping our first mock draft?

Round 1 Pick No: 2

Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama

Bryce Young
Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) throws a pass against Kansas State during the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

At this point, it’s too early to tell what direction the Texans will go at QB after bringing in DeMeco Ryans. Will he be enamored enough with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or possibly Will Levis to make them the second pick of the draft? Or will he look to draft a defensive standout such as Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr.?

Until there is an indication otherwise, I see the second pick being a quarterback. Even with a strong showing by Stroud in the CFP against Georgia, I think Bryce Young is the best of the three. People are falling in love with Levis and his physical tools (see Mel Kiper’s big board ranking Levis before Young and Stroud) but Young is more polished and has shown great pocket awareness and processing ability on his reads.

Round 1 Pick No: 12

Devon Witherspoon, Cornerback, Illinois

Devon Witherspoon
(EDITORS NOTE: CAPTION CORRECTION) Nov 14, 2020; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Devon Witherspoon (31) intercepts a pass intended for Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Bo Melton (18) during the second half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the best corners in the draft, he surrendered a QB rating of 24.6 when thrown against while making 14 PBUs and 3 interceptions. His skillset translates ideally to the NFL as he has both length and speed while being outstanding in both zone and man. This will allow him to play outside or in the slot and not miss a beat. The Texans need an infusion of talent everywhere and pairing Witherspoon with a healthy Derek Stingley Jr., Desmond King II, and Jalen Pitre has the potential for a top-ten secondary.

Round 2 Pick No: 33

Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army

Andre Carter II
Nov 21, 2020; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights linebacker Andre Carter (34) sacks Georgia Southern Eagles quarterback Shai Werts (1) during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports /

The two teams with the most sacks in the league were Philadelphia and Kansas City, and both are playing in the Super Bowl. Both also have an elite quarterback. Houston got their potentially elite quarterback at No. 2, now it’s time to add some help along the defensive line as they were second to last in sacks this season.

Andre Carter II has all the physical tools to be an elite pass rusher. An athletic talent, he’s quick and explosive in pass rush and run defense. He’s also shown that he is instinctive and patient, getting to the right place and identifying how plays develop. His biggest concern is finishing off tackles, as he needs to ensure that he follows completely through.

Round 3 Pick No: 65

Karl Brooks, EDGE, Bowling Green

Karl Brooks
Sep 25, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Bowling Green Falcons defensive lineman Karl Brooks (44) sacks Minnesota Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports /

Back-to-back defensive linemen and both are welcomed additions for the Texans. Brooks is versatile and can play the interior or on the edge. He’s got a high motor and strong pursuit, often getting himself in position to finish off plays.

Round 3 Pick No: 73

Rashee Rice, WR, SMU

Rashee Rice
Feb 2, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; American wide receiver Rashee Rice of SMU (11) catches a touchdown with American defensive back Jay Ward of LSU (1) defending during the third day of Senior Bowl week at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

With Brandon Cooks wanting out (again), there’s a need for a high-volume target for Bryce Young. Rashee Rice fits that bill. More of a possession receiver than someone who will stretch the field, he’s shown soft hands and a knack for running underneath routes. He also flashes playmaking ability after the catch.

Round 4 Pick No: 104

Joe Tippmann, Center, Wisconsin

Joe Tippmann
Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Tippmann (75) looks to clear a path during the third quarter of their game Saturday, September 10, 2022, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Washington State beat Wisconsin 17-14.Mjs Uwgrid10 19 Jpg Uwgrid10 114132956d /

Wisconsin produces NFL-ready linemen on both sides of the ball. Notable names include Joe Thomas, Kevin Zeitler, Travis Frederick, Ryan Ramczyk, and Tyler Biadasz. Don’t get me started on the defensive side. Tippman is an ideal size at 6’ 6’’ and 317 lbs. Playing 1,456 snaps in his college career he surrendered only four QB hurries, four QB hits, and one sack. After surrendering 38 sacks last year as a team, Tippmann would be a great choice to protect the new franchise QB.

Round 5 Pick No: 138

Payne Durham, Tight End, Purdue

Payne Durham
Feb 4, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; National tight end Payne Durham of Purdue (87) grabs a pass at the one-yard line with American defensive back Darius Rush of South Carolina (28) defending during the first half of the Senior Bowl college football game at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

Payne Durham was a high-volume target his senior year, hauling in 56 receptions for 560 yards and 8 TDs. He has good hands and knows how to use his size to shield against defenders, making him a big-time red-zone threat. At the Senior Bowl, he was one of the standouts of the week and made his presence known during the game. He hauled in two catches for 24 yards, his second was impressive as he went up and made a tough catch in traffic. He also caught a two-point conversion and lined up at fullback, showing his versatility. He blocked well all week and excelled at every opportunity.

If the Texans go QB at No. 2 (like we think they will) this draft needs to be about two things. The first is restocking young talent on both sides of the ball and the second is providing reliable protection and weapons for Bryce Young. Durham checks off both. A bit hard to project, as he could potentially go as high as the 3rd round, we have him slipping here and Houston taking advantage.

Round 6 Pick No: 203

Emil Ekiyor Jr., Guard, Alabama

Emil Ekiyor, Jr.
Alabama offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor, Jr., (55) blocks against Southern Miss defensive lineman Demarrio Smith (55) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday, September 21, 2019.Ekiyor401 /

More help along the offensive line for Houston. Ekiyor Jr. is another big body at 6’ 3’’ and 317 lbs., who plays with a nasty streak. He could step in and compete for one of the guard positions or provide excellent depth.

Round 6 Pick No: 207

Nic Jones, Cornerback, Ball State

Nic Jones
Feb 2, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; West cornerback Nic Jones of Ball State (21) carries the ball on an interception return against the East during the Shrine Bowl at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the best players at the Shrine game, he did everything he could to help his draft stock. It pays off here as the Texans take him in the 6th round. Versatile in coverage he will provide depth and has the athleticism to cover in the slot.

Round 7 Pick No: 221

Dante Stills, Defensive Tackle, West Virginia

Dante Stills
Oct 30, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Dante Stills (55) celebrates after sacking Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) during the fourth quarter at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports /

Next to Nic Jones, Stills was one of the biggest standouts from the Shrine game. He has all the stats you want to see over a college career and played against stiff competition in the Big 12. A high-motor type of interior lineman who can fill nicely in the rotation.

Round 7 Pick No: 239

Evan Hull, Running Back, Northwestern

Evan Hull
Aug 27, 2022; Dublin, IRELAND; Northwestern Wildcats running back Evan Hull is tackled by Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Nick Henrich in the Aer Lingus college football series at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Moran-USA TODAY Sports /

Hull shined in the Senior Bowl and has the look and tools to complement Dameon Pierce. He shows power and quickness, with pass-catching ability to boot. Well worth taking a flyer on in the 7th round.