Top 5 players the Houston Texans should completely avoid in the 2023 NFL Draft

Houston Texans, NFL Draft
Houston Texans, NFL Draft / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
2 of 5

4. Houston Texans must avoid in the NFL Draft: Mazi Smith

The Texans have a pair of bookend pass rushers in Jonathan Greenard and Jerry Hughes but their interior defensive line could use an infusion of talent. Maliek Collins has been a solid presence in the trenches and the front office acquired Sheldon Rankins in free agency.

Although both Collins and Rankins are dependable players, Houston lacks a playmaker up front, which is why going after either Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr. would make sense with their second first-round selection. But if they're gone by then, which is highly likely, general manager Trent Baalke might be tempted to take Michigan defensive lineman Mazi Smith.

At 6'3" and 323 pounds, Smith has the speed and power to wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage. He can shed on blocks and toss offensive linemen around. However, the Michigan native isn't an effective pass rusher, often giving up before the whistle blows.

While it's true that defensive tackles, especially those tasked with taking on double teams, don't generally put up jaw-dropping numbers. Matt Holder of the Bleacher Report scouting department believes that Smith "would disappear on tape far too often for someone with his athletic gifts".

Overall, Holder thinks that Smith has a huge upside but he is more of a project rather than a finished product at this stage of his career. It's possible that the 2022 First-Team All-Big 10 will develop into a game-changer in the NFL but taking him comes with high risk, which is why Houston must avoid him in the first round.