Best-case scenario Texans’ 7 round mock draft

What if everything went right for theHouston Texans on draft night? What if everything you thought was a pipeline dream actually became a reality?

Houston, fresh off its first division title in four years, is ready to compete for the long run. C.J. Stroud is locked into his rookie contract for four more years. So is Defensive Rookie of the Year and pass-rushing freak Will Anderson Jr.

The Texans realize their window is wide open, hence the reason for spending over $170 million in guaranteed money. Danielle Hunter, Azeez Al-Shaair, Joe Mixon, Jeff Okudah and Stefon Diggs are household names that should elevate both sides of the ball and turn close calls into blowout matchups.

But the draft is where teams build for the long haul. It’s also where dreams are crushed as the prospect every fan base loves comes off the board a pick before expected. And without a first-round pick, the Texans are at the mercy of 41 other selections — barring a trade from wheeling-and-dealing Nick Caserio — before landing a hopeful franchise cornerstone.

But what if the draft played out the way fans wanted it to go? What if Houston landed almost every prospect that would fit the franchise and entice the fan base more so than the new jerseys?

This Texans Wire mock draft isn’t what we think will happen come Friday evening, but rather the “best-case scenario” given recent reports and news. And if this were to happen, you all owe us an apology and must admit we’re the smartest people to ever exist.

Let’s get to picking players, shall we?

Jer’Zhan Newton

(Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

Houston would automatically become one of the biggest winners on draft weekend if the All-Big Ten defender fell to No. 42. Netwon, arguably the second-best interior defensive lineman in the class, seems to be falling down boards because of pre-draft medicals. The Texans should be willing to package a deal and move up to No. 33 or No. 34 should the All-American slip out of Day 1, but they’ll be content watching him slip.

Newton has all the tools to be one of the top interior pass-rushers by the end of his rookie season. His rare explosiveness allows him to burst out of his shoes and pile-drive offensive linemen into the ground. Despite having a smaller frame (6-foot-2, 295 pounds), Newton knows how to use the leverage to his advantage by staying low to control the line of scrimmage.

From his violent hands to quick release off blocks to his ability to read and react, Newton’s Jones fracture might be the sole reason he lands outside the first 32 picks. A pairing of Newton in Ryans’ defense is nightmare fuel for AFC offenses.

Sweet dreams, postseason hopes of the rest of the division.

Dec 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Mike Sainristil (0) celebrates after breaking up a pass during the first half of the Big Ten Championship game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine being scared of drafting a prospect with unfathomable upside because of his height. Actually, let that happen on Friday night so Houston lands Sainristil and finishes fixing its defense.

When you think of a Ryans-type player, the 5-foot-9 national champion is the team captain of that list. He’s a physical tackler who plays like a maniac on fire and isn’t afraid to blitz off the edge while taking on tackles. Sainristil also possess exceptional ball skills, totaling six interceptions last season for the Big Ten champions.

Sainristil would be a consensus first-round pick if he wasn’t limited inside to the slot. That’s not a concern since the nickel position has become one of the more essential needs of a successful defense. The Texans also love players who were locker room leaders at prominent programs. Ask anyone in Ann Arbor about the two-time captain and they’ll say he was just as dire to Michigan’s national title run as Jim Harbaugh and J.J. McCarthy.

Watching Sainristil play is like seeing a Wolverine take the form of a human. How fitting for Hugh Jackman to retire as the character following Deadpool 3 for Sainristil to take over the mantle on Sunday for a championship-caliber defense.

Sep 16, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Kansas State Wildcats tight end Ben Sinnott (34) scores a touchdown during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Hybrid-type players like Sinnott aren’t a fit for every offense. They are, however, fits for Bobby Slowik’s personnel, which mixes in chess piece-players in 11, 12, and 21-personnel looks.

Sinnott can play everywhere for an offense. He’s a willing blocker in the run game when asked to take snaps at fullback and has been known for his ability to push on in the red zone. While not a fluid route-runner, Sinnott possesses above-average speed and does a decent job creating separation against nickel defenders and linebackers.

Brevin Jordan is going into a contract year. There’s little behind him and Dalton Schultz, and Houston might have to let the former walk to pay for other talents. Sinnott isn’t a finished product at either position, but maybe that’s a positive for an offense looking for extra flexibility.

Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (0) runs the ball during a game between Tennessee and Vanderbilt at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023.

More people should be talking up Wright, and it’s a travesty he’s been forgotten among the running backs in the class. That, however, is a win for the Texans entering Day 3 should he fall to pick No. 123.

Wright might have the most prominent upside of any offensive prospect. No, not running backs, offensive prospects in general. He’s a physical runner with good size and breakaway speed in the open field. While willing to take on hits, Wright also can be elusive behind the line of scrimmage to hit the corner for gains of 12-plus yards.

Wright also is decent in pass protection, often willing to lower his shoulder to give the quarterback a second chance downfield. As a receiving option, he has strong hands that rarely drop balls, while his explosiveness makes for pristine routes and fluid creativity.

Jonathon Brooks, Bucky Irving and Trey Benson and the highlight names of the class. Wright, however, is the best bang-for-buck prospect and should be an ideal complementary option behind Mixon.

Oct 21, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns offensive lineman Christian Jones (70) in action during the first quarter against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

The best teams also have the best depth in their trenches. While the Texans should feel content with their starting five, losing George Fant as a swing tackle did sting in case of injury.

Jones, an honorable mention All-Big 12 in back-to-back seasons, makes sense as a potential replacement. He started 35 games at right tackle and 13 games at left tackle over four seasons in Austin. He’s also been one of the better run blockers off the edge, helping Brooks and Falcons’ first-round pick Bijan Robinson become superstars behind the line of scrimmage.

While Houston brought back Charlie Beck, having another tackle option is essential. Jones should serve as Fant’s replacement and potentially the long-term swing tackle.

Missouri linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper celebrates after a play during a game against Kansas State at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 16, 2023, in Columbia, Mo.

Even after adding Jacob Phillips on Monday, Houston needs linebacker depth. Al-Shaair and Christian Harris should fill the void with the first-team unit, but pushing Henry To’oTo’o could benefit the defense tremendously.

Hopper is a jack-of-all-trades. He can cover, blitz, defend the run and command the huddle. He’s wiry, which can lead to miscommunication and over pursuits, but he also excels when asked to delay blitz up the middle. The 6-foot-2 Mizzou product also loves to hit and can shake players to their core if given a clean striking distance.

Everyone earns their way onto the roster as a special teamer and works their way up the depth chart. That’s like Hopper’s best case of earning more playing time. For Houston, the best-case is that he’s actually there this late in the draft process.

Ainias Smith

(Dustin Safranek-USA TODAY Sports)

Desmond King isn’t a lock to make the 53-man roster, meaning Houston has to consider adding a prospect with return skills. Smith excelled in the slot during his five seasons at Texas A&M, but made a name for himself on special teams, returning two punts for touchdowns over his final two years. Smith, a Houston native, also offers position flexibility, having played running back during his sophomore season in College Station.

Best-case scenario? The Aggie returns home and becomes a decent No. 4 receiver and ace special teamer. Worst-case? Remove the decent No. 4 receiver comment.

It never hurts to have depth off the edge. Hunter and Will Anderson Jr. should command most of the reps. Derek Barnett re-signed a one-year deal to be the No. 3 pass-rusher, and Houston still has former All-Big 12 defensive end Dylan Horton.

Tupuola-Fetui needs to work on his pass-rushing moves, but he’s a willing tackler and aggressive when trying to set the edge. He’ll serve a role on special teams early on in his career.

Kansas senior safety Kenny Logan Jr. (1) reacts after making a tackle against Oklahoma in the first quarter of Saturday’s game inside David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Logan started 44 games for the rebuilding Jayhawks under Lance Leipold and was a three-year captain. He’s not only one of the diamonds in the rough of the Big 12, but arguably the most physical safety in the class. That’s not always a good thing, though. While the 6-foot 210-pound Logan will deliver rib-shattering tackles, he also often looks for the big hit, lowering his head and missing the player altogether.

The best part of Logan’s game is his willingness to play the run. That feels like a Jalen Pitre 2.0, but he does offer some value in coverage when asked to play in zone or off-ball snaps. Overall, Logan should be a fixture on special teams and a situational player in six-man defensive back looks.

Every draft, a defensive back makes headlines on Day 3. Logan has the production to be that prospect for 2024.

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