Will Houston Texans bypass a QB in the first round of 2022 NFL draft?

NFL Draft News

There’s nothing worse than being desperate for a quarterback with a high draft pick during a year when there’s no consensus best option at the position.

But that’s where Houston finds itself right now.

Not bad enough to have the No. 1 overall pick, in need of a roster overhaul, and in limbo with its current QB, who has made himself almost untradeable due to off-field issues.

It’s no fun to be a Houston fan right now.

So let’s take a look at the Texans’ biggest needs in terms of how the draft is expected to play out. With a 2-9 record and 28 unrestricted free agents, Houston could lose as many as eight starters to free agency, including current starter Tyrod Taylor at QB. (Deshaun Watson also has to be factored in here as a potential loss.)

But the top QBs are somewhat underwhelming and all come with more warts than you’d typically want or expect out of a high first-rounder. That includes Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong, the No. 13 overall prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board who is third in the nation in passing yards (4,444 yards and 31 TDs). Armstrong is followed closely by Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, the Nos. 14th and 15th-ranked prospects. Pickett is fifth in the nation in passing yards with 4,066 yards and 40 TDs, while Corral is 15th with 3,334 yards and 20 TDs.

Of the teams with the same or worse record as Houston, only one team – the 0-10-1 Detroit Lions – also needs a QB, so Houston should be able to land one of those QBs in Round 1.

But why force a square peg into a round hole?

We’ve seen teams over-draft time and time again, especially at that position. Former North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky was seen as a bit of a reach when he went No. 2 overall to Chicago in 2017. Even Zach Wilson has New York Jets fans worried after the BYU rookie was taken with the No. 2 overall pick this year.

Furthermore, there’s almost no rhyme or reason to the “bust” rate at that position. Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, and Justin Herbert, the No. 6 pick, look like future stars, while Tua Tagovailoa, the No. 5 pick that year, has struggled. Kyler Murray has looked as good as advertised as the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, while Daniel Jones, the No. 6 pick, continues to struggle, and Dwayne Haskins (No. 15) and Drew Lock (42) are now backups.

Does Houston still need a QB? Absolutely. But the team took one with its first pick this past draft, Stanford’s Davis Mills in the third round, and one of the better ones could slip a round or two.

And there’s always this: Without a serviceable QB, Houston will likely have a crack at a top one in the 2023 draft.

Round 1: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Auburn gave the 6-foot-7, 350-pound Neal as much as the junior could handle over the weekend, as Neal gave up a sack and was called for a holding penalty. But Neal remains the undisputed top prospect at his position after starting 36 games in three years across three different positions along the line: 13 at left guard in 2019, 12 at right tackle last season and 11 games and counting this year at left tackle.

Still, the Auburn game illustrated why Neal’s best position at the next level might be on the right side. From WalterFootball: “Overall, this tape will fortify the belief of some area scouts that Neal should be a right tackle in the NFL. He is a monster of a tackle who is a tough run blocker and has a ton of media hype. Some NFL scouts, however, think his massive size leads to him not having left tackle feet and he would be a better fit on the right side in the NFL. Regardless, Neal looks like a top-16 pick next April in the 2022 NFL Draft.”

Neal and LT Laremy Tunsil would give Houston a pair of young, Pro Bowl-type talent at one of the most important positions in the game, regardless of who the signal-caller is.

Round 2: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Would Houston consider drafting an offensive lineman with its top two picks?

The answer should be a resounding “yes” if the team wants to protect its future investment at quarterback – plus, passing up on Green would be hard. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound junior has filled a variety of roles this season, playing at least 85 snaps at every position along the offensive line but center.

Furthermore, getting Green at the top of the second would be a coup for the Texans, as he’s projected to go higher by many evaluators. Here’s what Pro Football Network said about him earlier this month: “Green possesses that mauler mentality that makes interior offensive linemen a force in the ground game. Additionally, he has an anchor that would rival any boat in the ocean. From stance to snap and beyond, Green is a phenomenal prospect.”

So why would Green still be available near the top of the second round? Blame it on the position he’s most likely to play at the next level, guard. Few go in the first round. If you include N.C. State’s Ikem Ekwonu as a tackle instead of a guard, then Green and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum are the only interior linemen ranked among the top-32 prospects. One guard went in the first round in 2019, none in 2020 and one this past draft. So it’s possible that Green falls to the top of the second.

Besides, it’s fun to imagine an OL made up of LT Laremy Tunsil, LG Tytus Howard, RG Green and RT Neal.

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