1. First round, 27th overall: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
We’ve been saying for a long time now that the Texans need to get someone who can be that legitimate #2 threat alongside of Andre Johnson, and they may have gotten the best receiver in the draft. Hopkins showed in the Clemson bowl game last year that he can take over games with his two mitts, and he proved over the course of the year that he was the most consistently dominant player at his position in college football. He’s not the fastest receiver, but he is tough and he knows how to get himself open. He is also a great threat in the red zone. I think Houston has a really good thing going here with Hopkins in the fold, and guys they drafted last year like DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. They need those two guys to step up this season, and I think Hopkins also adds a significant upgrade. It doesn’t feel like Andre Johnson is that old because he still performs at such a high level, but he was the team’s second ever first round selection, and Hopkins has been selected 10 years later as his #2 and possibly eventual replacement. Time has flown in Houston.
2. Second round, 57th overall: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
This is a really good fit for Houston, and a guy who can come in and play special teams while learning from Ed Reed. I think when you look at the depth in Houston’s secondary, the clear weakness is at the safety position. Swearinger gives them a guy who could start if there was a need, but he also offers a lot of versatility as a reserve. This is not the fastest safety, but he is a head hunter and he can really excel in the box. I think in Houston’s sub-packages on defense, he’s going to be a real asset as a rookie, eventually developing into a starting safety in the NFL.
3. Third round, 89th overall: Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
The Texans have a need at right tackle with Derek Newton coming off of major knee surgery, and Williams fits the bill. This is an offensive lineman who plays with a nasty streak, and while he’s not quite as athletic as some of the tackles that came out in this draft, I think he’s solid value in the third round, and can give the Texans a guy who can start right away at right tackle if they need him to. Williams is coming off some injuries himself (knee, shoulder) so that is also something to keep an eye on as he goes into Texans camp competing for a starting job.
4. Third round, 95th overall: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
This is a pick I absolutely love. I think Montgomery on the field is as good a defensive end in this draft as any when he wants to be. The problem is, a lot of teams were concerned about his not giving full effort when the LSU Tigers played bad competition, even if his statements on that situation were taken out of context. If he wants to succeed in the NFL, he’s going to have to take every opponent seriously and not let his ability or the talent level of his team get to his head. When I watched Montgomery as a sophomore, I saw a top 10 pick. He is so quick off the snap, and has a lot of elite qualities as a pass rusher. As a junior, he put on a lot of weight (good weight) and was expected to be an even more dominant player, but I think the weight gain slowed him down a bit, and took away from what his production could have been. He will be a rush linebacker for the Texans in their 3-4 defense, and give them some very solid depth behind Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed.
5. Fourth round, 124th overall: Trevardo Williams, DE/OLB, UConn
This is a very athletic, very productive pass rush prospect who is just starting to come into his own as a player. He has incredible speed and quickness, and I think his ability to get to the quarterback is a pretty rare skill. He fell in the draft a bit due to size and teams weren’t really sure what position he’d be the best fit for, but I think he can excel in Houston because they have a need for pass rushers, and he does that really well. The Texans are so high on this guy, they feel like he potentially gives them the option of playing Brooks Reed at inside linebacker, another spot where they need some help.
6. Sixth round, 176th overall: David Quessenberry, OL, San Jose State
Solid offensive line prospect who played tackle in college and gives the Texans a variety of options for some depth on their offensive front. This is a very good athlete and a former tight end who is a good fit for the Texans’ zone blocking scheme, but he’s going to take some seasoning before he is ready for big time NFL action. We should get a good look at him in the pre-season, but I think for a sixth round pick, you are doing well if you add a guy who can contribute on special teams or add depth to your offensive/defensive line.
7. Sixth round, 195th overall: Alan Bonner, WR, Jacksonville State
Quicker than fast player who was expected to be undrafted, but gets picked up here by the Texans in the sixth round. I think he is going to be a slot receiver in the NFL, and he should also be able to contribute on kick/punt returns if the Texans want him to. He has pretty average size at 5’10” 193 pounds, and didn’t really blow anyone away with his athletic numbers. The Texans must feel like his game tape was too good to let him get to the UDFA pool.
8. Sixth round, 198th overall: Chris Jones, DL, Bowling Green
This is a very underrated defensive tackle prospect who could potentially play some nose for the Texans in Wade Phillips’ defense. He has great toughness and gives 100 percent effort on every single play. This guy never takes a play off. The fact that he went to Bowling Green pushed him down draft boards in all likelihood, but he was an All-American and the MAC defensive player of the year with 12.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position. I wouldn’t be surprised with his work habits if down the road, he ended up taking over the starting nose tackle job. Maybe he’s not cut out for the NFL game, but I think I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
9. Sixth round, 201st overall: Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn
Very athletic, very steadily improving tight end prospect. He has had some really good numbers in his years at UConn, and he has excellent size. He will be a developmental prospect for the Texans, but I think in the seventh round, he can add some really nice depth and give them a deeper rotation, especially with James Casey going to the Eagles.
I think the Texans had a great draft. They picked up one of the best receivers in the country in DeAndre Hopkins, who I think is still really underrated even being a first round pick. I think the Swearinger pickup is a solid one, and the Texans maybe found a starter at right tackle in Brennan Williams. I absolutely love some of their mid-late round picks, specifically Sam Montgomery, Trevardo Williams, and Chris Jones. I think those guys will bolster depth and give them starting potential right away.