Texans NFL Draft: The best fit for Houston with the 3rd overall pick

Kayvon Thibodeaux #5 of the Oregon Ducks. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Kayvon Thibodeaux #5 of the Oregon Ducks. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The Texans are likely to add defensive talent early in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Here’s their best fit with the third overall pick.

The Houston Texans have dealt with plenty of issues off the field over the last calendar year, but that’s a topic for another day. They’ve given their fans very little to be impressed with on the field.

Although we saw them play respectable football under former head coach David Culley and the promise of rookie quarterback Davis Mills, this mix of young players and journeymen veterans ended up with a 4-13 record. However, one positive was how they ended the year. They finished 2-2, showing more discipline in their final four contests.

Unfortunately, you can’t tell the story of the 2021 Houston Texans without mentioning lapses in play defensively. Lovie Smith’s group landed at 31st in the league in total defense. There are plenty of prospects available early in the first round who will help improve the defensive quality of this team.

Specifically, the Texans may zero in on defensive line candidates once they’re on the clock. Since they didn’t beat out the Jaguars and Lions in the tanking race, the Texans will be drafting third overall in the first round this spring.

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Since they didn’t beat out the Jaguars and Lions in the tanking race, the Texans will be drafting third overall in the first round. The dream scenario for the Houston Texans in this spot would be landing Oregon Ducks star defensive end, Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, presents himself as not only a premium run disruptor and solid pass rusher in this class but is arguably the best overall player coming out in 2022. As a five-star prospect, he has a ceiling that can make him become one of the league’s best at his position.

One of the biggest stories heading into this draft is the ‘Aidan Hutchinson versus Kayvon Thibodeaux’ debate.

Despite recent injury history, Thibodeaux’s ability to win battles against offensive linemen by way of his athletic ability, motor, and willingness to wreak havoc on multiple occasions during a game can cause issues for any opposing offense. There have been flashes of brilliance during his time in the Pac-12.

The two-time All-Pac-12 first-teamer had performances in 2021 featuring nine total tackles (4.5 for loss) with two sacks against UCLA and a six-tackle (2.0 for loss), two-sack game hosting Washington State. He’s a raw talent who can still add more tools to his arsenal as he continues to gain experience.

Many people give the edge to Hutchinson in the debate because of how raw Thibodeaux is as a pass rusher. However, given he taps into all facets of his skillset and looks more towards producing consistently in all areas rather than searching for the ‘big play’, draft aficionados believe his potential can exceed anyone in this class from the edge spot, including Hutchinson.

The Texans were tied for fifth-worst in sacks (32) and fourth-worst in total quarterback pressures (124). Thibodeaux is capable of adding more to this unit in terms of getting to the opposing quarterback through his explosive bursts off the line. He earned 19 sacks in 30 games during his time with the Ducks. Impressive for someone continuing to develop as a rusher.

In the running game, Oregon’s 2021 All-America team member can also contribute by way of a season average of five tackles per game. This is beneficial to a team that finished as the second-worst total running defense while allowing the second-most rushing touchdowns in 2021. He’s a freak of nature that certain offensive lines have struggled to control.

Thibodeaux can make his presence felt once he enters the backfield due to his power once the ball is snapped. Drafting him will not only help the pass rush but we’ll see his contributions containing the run.

In a division with the Colts and Titans whose offensive lines rank in the top half of the league according to Pro Football Focus, the Texans need to fill their defensive line with more talent to have a chance in the physical AFC South.

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This upcoming draft will be the first time since 2014 that the Texans have a selection in the top three. In 2014, they picked defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, first overall. He was a star coming out of South Carolina before declaring. Now, a new star edge rusher has emerged and we may see a similar pick in the first round of 2022 for Houston.