It’s not an exaggeration to say things are a mess with the Houston Texans. There are rumors star quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out. The team needs help on all levels of the defense, both inside and out. If all that wasn’t enough, the Texans are without a first or second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. How can they fix this mess? I have a Texans 2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft that will go a long way towards that end.
Houston Texans Pre-Senior Bowl 7-Round Mock Draft
- Round 2, Pick 34: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama*
- Round 4, Pick 99: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
- Round 5, Pick 130: Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
- Round 6, Pick 163: Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
- Round 6, Pick 176: Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
- Round 6, Pick 187: Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Buffalo
- Round 7, Pick 193: Whop Philyor, WR, Indiana
*trade with the New York Jets
Texans 2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft pick-by-pick analysis
Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
The Houston Texans are currently without picks in the first or second rounds, thanks to the Laremy Tunsil trade. When you look at the number of holes on this roster, lacking that kind of draft capital puts a team behind the proverbial 8-ball. To mitigate that, we’ve traded 67, 112, and a 2022 second-round pick to the New York Jets for 34.
The hope with moving up that aggressively is to get some help for Deshaun Watson. The offensive line was solid this year in Houston, but playmakers are needed. Watson led the league in passing this year despite Bill O’Brien trading away DeAndre Hopkins, but a WR upgrade would go a long way towards convincing Watson to stay. Unfortunately, the value wasn’t there.
Instead, we’ve turned to the other side of the ball for Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. Houston took Ross Blacklock in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He wasn’t terrible in his rookie season, but the Texans could upgrade. Barmore was dominant this season, and especially in the National Championship game. He would give the Texans something Blacklock doesn’t — a penetrator and disruptor at the position.
Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Zach Cunningham has developed quite nicely for the Houston Texans. Cunningham led the NFL in tackles this season and added three sacks. He may be in line for his first Pro Bowl selection next season if he continues his current progression. However, after Cunningham, there isn’t a whole lot in the Texans linebacker group.
With the second pick in our Texans 7-round Mock Draft, we’re getting a shot of athleticism into the Texans linebacker group. LSU product Jabril Cox helped his draft stock significantly this season. Despite playing on a bad LSU team, Cox separated himself from the pack and established himself as one of the nation’s top linebackers. His decision to transfer from FCS powerhouse NDSU to the SEC turned out well.
Cox is an athletic linebacker who possesses the proverbial “sideline-to-sideline” skills you want from the position. He’s physical and packs a wallop in the run game. He has the athleticism to carry a tight end down the seam or get out to the flat to cover a running back.
He needs to work some on his technique and consistency, along with trusting his eyes. However, for a pick in the fourth round, he’s about as good as it gets.
Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
The third pick in our 2021 Texans 7-round NFL Mock Draft, and we’re three for three on the defensive side of the ball. As I said, the team needs help at all levels, both inside and out. One of the most significant areas of need for the Texans is at the cornerback position. The Texans’ corners weren’t good in 2020, only hauling in two interceptions on the season as a collective group. The league leader in interceptions — Miami’s Xavien Howard — had five times that number by himself.
While the Texans need a significant upgrade at the position, that’s tough to do this late in the draft. However, grabbing South Carolina’s Israel Mukuamu with this pick could wind up being a massive steal for the Texans. Mukuamu had ample hype coming into the season. That hype has dwindled, but he’s still a solid player and would at least compete for playing time from the jump for the Texans.
Mukuamu fits the new-school mold of a big cornerback, coming in at 6’4” and over 200 pounds. At that size, the Texans may be tempted to put him at safety — another position of need — but he’s more than capable of holding up as a boundary corner. He has the length to make up for what he may lack in speed. He’s not exactly a ball-hawking corner, but he did come down with seven interceptions in his Gamecocks career.
Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
Deshaun Watson led the league in passing yards this season. He did so despite the fact that Bill O’Brien traded DeAndre Hopkins in one of his last acts as the team’s GM. Some would point to that and say that the offense is fine, and Watson can work wonders no matter who they line up out there. There is some truth to that, but why wouldn’t you want to make the quarterback’s job a little easier?
Not only would bringing in some weapons make Watson’s job easier, but it may also smooth things over with the disgruntled QB. That’s why we’ve strayed from our focus on the defense with this pick in the Texans 7-round Mock Draft for Dazz Newsome. Newsome is electric with the ball in his hands. Mack Brown has revitalized the North Carolina football program, and Newsome had a large role in that.
Newsome isn’t the big, “throw it up and let him come down with it” target that Hopkins was. Instead, he’s much more in the mold of their current group of receivers. He may never develop into a number one receiver in the league. Still, Newsome should be an excellent complement in the group they currently have and bring an explosive element they’re lacking.
Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
After a brief respite, we’re going back to the well on defense with our next pick in this Texans 2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft. Our second of three sixth-round picks is addressing the Texans’ needs on the back end. We said Houston needs help at all three levels, and safety is no exception to that.
Despite only coming in at 5’11″ and a shade under 200 pounds, Georgia safety Richard LeCounte is one of the SEC’s more solid safety prospects. He’s a complete safety who will give you contributions both on the back end in coverage and in the box. LeCounte came down with at least three interceptions each of the last two seasons for Georgia. He also recorded 6.5 tackles for loss during his time with the Bulldogs.
The sixth round isn’t where you’d typically expect to find a starter-quality player. This is where you’re filling out your roster and finding guys who will provide your team with — hopefully — some quality depth. That said, I believe LeCounte can come in and compete for playing time right away. That is some excellent value this late in the process.
Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Buffalo
Another pick, another defensive player added. We’re rounding out round six of the Texans 7-round Mock Draft with a player who may be able to inject some life into the Texans’ pass rush. J.J. Watt has been holding it down for years in Houston, but he’s not going to be there forever. Even with Watt this season, no one on the Texans had more than five sacks.
Furthermore, aside from Watt and fellow defensive end Charles Omenihu, no one had more than seven QB hits. Malcolm Koonce isn’t Khalil Mack. Yet like the former Buffalo EDGE, this EDGE can get after the quarterback. Koonce averaged just over one tackle for loss per game this season and had five sacks in only six games.
Koonce will need time to develop, but he should get that in Houston. Sitting behind Watt and Omenihu, and serving as a rotational piece, should give him the time he needs. There isn’t a better player to learn from at the position than Watt.
Whop Philyor, WR, Indiana
We end our Texans 2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft with one of my favorite Day 3 players, Whop Philyor. When healthy, Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks make for a formidable one-two punch outside. In the slot, however, the Texans could use an upgrade. We’ve already selected Dazz Newsome in this draft, but why not go back to the well once more?
Philyor is much more of a traditional slot receiver than Newsome, who can play both inside and outside. Philyor is the prototypical “quicker than fast” slot, getting separation with savvy footwork and quick-twitch, rather than simply blowing by the guy across from him. He exhibits some excellent body control along the sidelines and can come down with circus catches with the best of them.
He’s not the biggest guy, and he’s relatively limited in what he’ll bring to the table. Yet, he should at least compete with the likes of Randall Cobb and Keke Coutee for playing time. That’s about all you can ask for at this point in the draft.
It may not be the prettiest, but I think this draft does a lot to address the Texans’ needs. It’s tough with the limited draft capital, but this makes it work. Much of this is banking on potential and players reaching their ceilings. However, isn’t that what the NFL Draft is all about?
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