Mel Kiper has the Texans selecting an offensive tackle in his recent mock

Analyzing why taking an offensive lineman in the first round would be a mistake for the Houston Texans.
Kansas v Oklahoma
Kansas v Oklahoma / Brian Bahr/GettyImages

With the combine kicking off this week in Indianapolis, NFL fans across the country can only speculate on what their teams will do to improve their rosters this offseason. Once free agency begins on March 11th, we will better understand what positions the Houston Texans will prioritize during the 2024 NFL Draft. Until then, it is fun to listen to rumors and analyze what the experts think will happen this early in the offseason. 

ESPN analyst and NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper has the Texans selecting Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyler Guyton with the 23rd pick in the 2024 NFL Draft in his mock draft 2.0. In the article, Kiper wrote: "For a team that ranked 29th in yards per rush attempt on offense (3.7) last season, Guyton could be an excellent addition."

While it is still early in the pre-draft process, this is a surprising projection to me. 

I agree that the offensive line was underwhelming at times this past season, especially as a running unit. That being said, people seem to forget that the Texans endured a lot of injuries across the unit over the year. After all, the only player that started every game along the line was Shaq Mason.

Before the regular season began, the Texans lost Scott Quessenberry and Kenyon Green to season-ending injuries, both of whom were predicted to be starters. Backup guard Kendrick Green tore his meniscus in week 3 and rookie center Jarrett Patterson fractured his fibula in week 8. Finally, starting right tackle Tytus Howard began the season on injured reserve after breaking his hand and ended the season on IR after injuring his knee in week 12. Not to mention, Houston started the season without rookie center Juice Scruggs and veteran tackle Charlie Heck and lost star left tackle Laremy Tunsil for three weeks early in the season. 

The Texans were forced to mix and match the offensive line throughout the season due to the sheer number of injuries they endured and we never got the chance to see the unit at full strength during the 2023 season. I know that the group was exposed at times throughout the season but that is to be expected when you are down to your 2nd-string right tackle, 4th-string center, and 3rd-string left guard. Let’s also not forget that the Texans were an above-average pass-blocking unit and finished the season with the 10th-best pass-block win rate even with all of those injuries.

Taking another tackle early in the draft would not make much sense given the personnel along the offensive line. Houston already has one of the better tackle duos in the NFL with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard, both of whom are under contract through the 2026 season. Nick Caserio will have to at least add some depth pieces on the offensive line this offseason, but I would not do so in the first three rounds of the draft in April. I would put my faith in the offensive line staying healthy and taking a step forward in performance.

The offensive linemen that Houston is scheduled to lose in free agency are all backups and easily replaceable with small contracts or late-round picks. On the other hand, the Texans are expected to lose some quality talent at other positions, especially on defense. Dalton Schultz, Blake Cashman, Steven Nelson, Jonathan Greenard, and Sheldon Rankins are all unrestricted free agents and the chances of Houston retaining each of them are slim. This is all the more reason for the front office to add quality talent at other positions during the draft.

The Texans have invested too much money and draft capital in the offensive line over the past two offseasons for them to justify selecting an offensive tackle with the 23rd pick. I would rather see Caserio target defensive players and weapons for CJ Stroud early in the draft. Given which players are under contract for the 2024 season and the needs that Houston has at other positions, the Texans would be wasting their first-rounder by selecting an offensive tackle.