Image credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
By: Dominic Ambrose
The 2022 NFL Draft is officially in the books and teams are now looking at undrafted free agents to bring into their respective teams. The Houston Texans were one of the many teams that had multiple picks in the first round but also many needs to address. How they did on their picks will be determined as the games play out, but how did their picks pan out?
Round 1 Pick 3 - Derek Stingley Jr, Defensive Back LSU
Picking third overall, the Texans saw Travon Walker and Aiden Hutchinson go off the board with the first two selections. The Texans chose Derek Stingley Jr., cornerback LSU with their first pick. Despite limited games, after his freshman season of 2019-2020, where he started all 15 games he remained one of the top defensive backs in the draft class. In his freshman season, six interceptions, and 21 passes defended. After that season he was limited to starting seven games in 2020-2021 and three games in 2021-2022. He has clear potential to be a top corner in the league, however, the limited play, as well as some injuries, do raise concerns for his potential ceiling. He definitely upgrades their secondary and should be the starter on day one.
Overall Grade - B
While I do like the pick and his potential, my question will be if Stingley can regain his form from his freshman season. He has had injuries, which seem to have been healed and should be behind him. At his pro day, Stingley ran a 4.37 40-yd time. There is just a bit more of a boom or bust feel to this selection than selecting as an example a Sauce Gardner (who went No. 4 overall).
Round 1 Pick 15 - Kenyon Green, OL Texas A&M
With the 15th overall pick, originally the pick was 13th, however, Houston moved back two spots in a trade with Philadelphia. At 6’4” and 323 pounds, Green has a good deal of potential with his size and athletic ability. He has the ability to not only help in run blocking but to be an asset in pass blocking. He has the versatility to play all along the offensive line having played both guard and tackle on the right as well as the left. He should be a depth piece to start eventually taking over at a tackle spot (his better fit). He has yet to reach his ceiling as a lineman, however, does provide a lot to help a Texans team get better.
Overall Grade - C+
Again, a good pick with a high ceiling to help an area of need. Looking at the original pick of 13 overall, the Eagles selected Jordan Davis with the pick. Having him on the interior defensive line for your team when facing the likes of Derrick Henry and Johnathan Taylor in your division makes me wonder why the Texans didn’t select Davis. Also, of the available talent on the offensive line at pick 15, Zion Johnson (picked 17th overall) was still on the board and a better option to be a day one starter. They get points for upside with the Green pick, however, there were better options available with and without the trade.
Round 2 Pick 5 (37 Overall) - Jalen Pitre, DB Baylor
With their first pick in the second round, the Texans went back to addressing the defensive side of the ball, selecting Pitre to help solidify the defensive secondary. Pitre ran a 4.43 40-yd time and can play right away at either safety position. He should be the day one starter at free safety and although he has work to do to refine his technique in pass pro specifically, he does have limitations and stiffness in his movements. His football IQ is definitely an asset to help make plays against the run and roaming to mirror the quarterback in covering the field.
Overall Grade - C -
While Pitre has qualities that are coveted and assets on defense, picking him this high in the 2nd round was a bit of a reach. Looking at the available talent at this point in the draft, Arnold Ebikete (38th overall pick), Boye Mafe (40th overall), and Andrew Booth (42nd overall) could have been selected and improved the defense as a unit as more polished players to start day one. While Pitre does fit more as a roving free-safety and should develop well, securing a young corner to play opposite of Stingley Jr would have given the Texans good security against the pass. Similarly, the addition of Ebikete or Mafe could have helped solidify the defensive line in a division with run-heavy teams.
Round 2 Pick 12 (44th Overall) - John Metchie III, WR Alabama
This was an interesting choice, on the one hand, the Texans need a running mate for Brandin Cooks so receiver is an area of need. Metchie for his part is proficient in his route running and is used to running a pro-style route tree. At the pro level, he should fit nicely as a slot receiver and be an asset in the passing game, assuming his recovery from his ACL tear (December) goes well. He will need to get some work done on his explosiveness to gain separation from corners in press coverage.
Overall Grade - C+ -
Does the pick fill a need for help in the passing game? Yes, it does. Will he be able to contribute right away? Possibly, his recovery from his ACL tear is going well and reports are showing that he should be ready for camp. Does he provide a viable option to cause defenses to not focus solely on Brandin Cooks? Yes, he is that type of player. The injury especially to a receiver is a question mark as there will be questions for him going in and out of his breaks.
With receivers still on the board, like George Pickens, Skyy Moore, and Alec Pierce available and without the recovery timetable/ACL injury, leads me to question if there was a better choice to make a day one impact/start.
Round 3 Pick 11 (75th overall) - Christian Harris, LB Alabama
Harris will provide help and depth at the linebacker position for the Texans and could develop into a starter. Having gone to Alabama, where he did start for three seasons, he has the ability to play at a high level. He is athletic enough to cover and tackle in space as well as make plays in the backfield. He does need to work on identifying blocking schemes and use his hands better to shed blocks.
Overall Grade C+
Is there upside here with Harris’ selection? Yes. Will he be a contributor to the defense? Yes, he will provide depth at linebacker and give some versatility for the defense towards the offenses they will see during the season. He will gain valuable reps as he develops and works on polishing up his technique to become better at the NFL level. His selection here raised an eyebrow for me as both, defensive tackle Travis Jones (selected 12th in the 3rd round) and offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann (selected 13th in the 3rd round were both available. Jones could have paid bigger dividends for a defensive line playing both Derrick Henry and Johnathan Taylor in the division. Likewise, Raimann could have solidified the offensive line and provided depth as he continued to refine his technique as he has been transitioning to tackle after spending time at receiver and most recently tight end.
Round 4 Pick 2 (107th overall) - Dameon Pierce, RB Florida
This was a solid pick. He is fearless in his runs and has a springy step to create space and make defenders miss. Although running off tackle is more his style, he is not afraid to run between the tackles. He did stand out at the Senior Bowl among the best in the country and certainly showed he could do more than his usage at Florida suggests. He does have solid hands as a receiver as well. Pierce will be a great asset both in the run game and as a receiver and develop into a solid starter for the future.
Overall Grade - B+
Very good pick for the Houston Texans. High upside and ceiling to be a valuable asset to the Texans. Should see a substantial share of the snaps on offense as a rookie and will make the most of them. As the season progresses, his workload may increase before becoming more of the feature back for the Texans moving forward.
Round 5 Pick 7 (150th overall) - Thomas Booker, DT Stanford
Solid pick that should positively contribute as he develops and refines his techniques. Has athletic ability will allow him to also make an impact on special teams as well as a variety of defensive fronts. Has powerful hands to counter blocks as well as athletic ability and timing to disrupt passing lanes when he can’t get to the quarterback.
Overall grade - B
Booker’s selection is a great value for the Texans. He will be a contributor on special teams as well as in a rotational role along the defensive line. Although he is listed as a defensive tackle, I could see him making a transition to play on the edge with his athletic ability.
Round 5 pick 27 (170th overall) - Teagan Quitoriano, TE Oregon State
Quitoriano improved his offensive numbers in each of his seasons at Oregon State and continues to develop into the tight end position. He has athletic ability having played both football and basketball in high school before concentrating on football while in college. He’s certainly not going to win track meets but moves very well. Although he didn’t find the endzone much during his time with the Beavers (six touchdowns) he does have the ability to run a more advanced route tree for the Texans.
Overall Grade - B-
I like the pick and what Quitoriano can bring to an offense and the fifth-round selection provides the Texans with a solid value in the pick. He should have contributions right away on offense and could see snaps on special teams as well. He will need to work on his blocking to defend against edge rushers better as well as finishing his blocking assignments. At 6’5” he is a prime target downfield and in the endzone where he can showcase his strengths to not only make the contested catches but be physical enough to hold onto the ball through contact.
Overall Draft Performance - B
The Texans need a lot and this is the first of many steps in that process. While I feel they addressed needs I do feel that they missed on picks going for a double instead of hitting a home run. The approach and results of this draft for the Texans definitely have a feel of being greater as a group, contributing to the improvement of the team as a whole rather than having a knockout singular player to build around on offense and defense. Should be interesting how these pieces will add to the overall team for the upcoming season and how they improve over last season's record.