One 2022 NFL Draft Prospect At Each Position for the Houston Texans

With the college football season starting today it brings me great joy to officially kick off what will be one of the most important draft cycles for the Houston Texans.

While the team has been showing a much better performance in preseason than majority expected - don't pencil in the #1 pick just yet - building through the draft is the best proven way to build a sustainable contender.

Thus, the anonymity of where our first round pick (and the rest of our draft capital that Nick Caserio loves trading for) lands motivates me to cast a decently wide net in regards to this article.

I am going to provide an early name for each position on offense and defense (sorry special teams) that I believe fits the Texans identity and scheme.

They won't all be projected first rounders or the top players at their respective positions, but that's the fun part - let's learn about some names to keep an eye on this year!


Malik Willis, 6'1, 215, Liberty, 4JR

While it would be very easy to slot in my early QB1, Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler, that's the obvious QB pick for the Texans. Instead, in case you haven't heard of him, Liberty's Malik Willis is a potential first round pick on most draft boards and the only other QB in this class that I believe rivals Rattler's ceiling.

Strengths: Elite athlete with Lamar Jackson-like running ability (14 rushing TDs in 2020), combining elusiveness and power to fuel a zone-read running game and allows Willis to scramble and extend plays like the best of them. Strongest arm in the class which can make any throw on the field (20 passing TDs in 2020) and while on the run, off platform or off balance and even uses Patrick Mahomes-like side arms when necessary. Flashes of diagnosing coverages pre snap and solid understanding of beating blitzes.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent accuracy (albeit 64% comp% in 2020) with some ugly misses (especially deep) due to wonky footwork that needs to be refined. Uber-confident thrower who tests the limits of his abilities and results in head scratching INTs (6 in 2020) at times. Can throw with more anticipation which will get the ball out quicker and help cut down on unnecessary sacks.

Fit on team: It's hard to pinpoint the Texans offensive identity in the passing game so far but the coaches have preached heavily about pounding the rock through the ground and Willis' wheels can certainly help. Richard Angulo, Texans TE coach is said to have responsibilities with the run game and being a former Ravens TE coach, it's easy to imagine Willis in a similar system and role as Lamar Jackson has. This can weaponize Willis' legs while not putting too much on his plate throwing wise and giving him time to make strides as a pocket passer. Furthermore, all reports on Willis' character preach about his work ethic and adept understanding of Liberty's offense - he's reportedly someone who has the mental makeup to lead a team.

Reminds me of: Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray

Projected: Top 15 pick

Running Back

Eric Gray, 5'9, 206, Oklahoma (Transferred from Tennessee), 3JR

Next up is a position with very little future stability for the Texans with no RB having a contract past the 2021 season. I've been waiting for our next stud RB since Arian Foster's days and this is a talented RB class. An early favorite is Eric Gray who has the chance to set the world on fire by teaming up with Lincoln Riley and Spencer Rattler for the Sooners.

Strengths: Vision and quick processing ability to read gaps and defenders in zone and gap/power schemes. Ability to create for himself by pressing the gap and manipulating defenders leverage to create an open lane. Great acceleration to burst through holes in the 5-15 yards area of the field and has the agility and elusiveness to make defenders miss in space with a deadly jump cut. Proficient blocker who displays the effort and technique to make coaches happy. Flashes of pass catching ability as he trusts his hands to catch and is an immediate YAC threat.

Weaknesses: Narrow frame and below average size could limit his ceiling or immediate role to 3rd down duties. A tough runner but lacks great contact balance to break tackles and finish runs with brute force. Lacking top end speed to create big explosive plays in the open field.

Fit on team: The Texans run offense has seen a mix of Power and Inside Zone concepts so far and I expect this to continue throughout the regular season as it is the scheme that best fits our offensive line's personnel. Luckily, Gray has the vision and ability to create in both these systems. He can also be a solid 3rd down back if the Texans resign a Phillip Lindsay or Mark Ingram and can slowly progress into a bigger role if needed.

Reminds me of: Aaron Jones, Cam Akers

Projected: 2nd-3rd round

Wide Receiver

Romeo Doubs, 6'2, 200, Nevada, 4SR

This was the toughest position to pick just one player as I was heavily tempted to write about George Pickens (my WR1), Treylon Burks (an AJ Brown/Deebo Samuel hybrid) or Jahan Dotson (DeVonta Smith-lite vibes). Instead, I went with the Nevada speedster who amassed 1,002 yards (at 17.3 YPC) and 9 TDs in just 9 games.

Strengths: Smooth speed releases off the line and blazing deep speed that can erase off-coverage cushions with ease. Astute ball tracking while maintaining speed and the body control to adjust to errant throws. Flashes of route nuance and salesmanship on short routes with an understanding of how to attack DB's leverage. Solid YAC threat due to rolling speed and twitchy movements.

Weaknesses: Struggles to catch slightly contested throws that are above his head. Limited route tree and role at Nevada. Shows little nuance on deep routes which is odd because of how high usage they are in his diet - but he still produces.

Fit on team: With Brandin Cooks' contract having an out after the 2022 season - and his vertical speed diminishing - the Texans could be in need of a Z-WR to take the top off. I'm hoping that training camp star Nico Collins eventually takes over the X-WR spot and Collins-Doubs could be a deadly WR duo of the future that compliment each other very well.

Reminds me of: More consistent Nelson Agholor, Marquez Valdez Scantling

Projected: 2nd round with potential to sneak into the 1st

Tight End

Jalen Wydermyer, 6'5, 255, Texas A&M, 3JR

My early TE1 in the class, I really admire Jalen's ability to be a dual threat TE and the value that brings. The Texans current TE room is filled with specialists, the receiving/YAC guys like Jordan Akins and Brevin Jordan and the blocking guys like Pharaoh Brown, Antony Auclair, Ryan Izzo and Paul Quessenberry (FB/TE). Jalen is able to infuse both of these skillsets into a physical body and can do a little bit of everything for you.

Strengths: Physical build with brute strength and tenacious effort as a run blocker. Very good vs DBs, solid vs LBs and flashes vs DEs. Solid athlete for the position with a knack for separating vertically up the seam or horizontally in the flat. Tremendous concentration and strong hands at the catch point, making contested catches look easy and having the body control to adjust on the sideline. Physicality, hands and catch radius make him a plus red zone threat.

Weaknesses: Solid, not good athleticism hurts his ability to block in space when asked to climb to the 2nd level on Zone runs. Technique (pad level) as a run blocker and pass protector needs refinement. Lackluster route runner who lacks creativity and route salesmanship to separate vs man coverage.

Fit on team: The Texans are prioritizing Tight Ends who can block in the run game - as evidenced by Auclair, Izzo and Quessenberry playing big early roles - and Wydermyer has the build and tenacity to fit a physical identity on offense. He can be the dual threat TE that we've lacked for years, not having to be taken off the field often and provide the offense with run/pass anonymity.

Reminds me of: Jack Doyle, Darren Fells

Projected: 2nd round

Offensive Tackle

Daniel Faalele, 6'9, 380, Minnesota, 4JR

This is a mountain of a man and one who is playing at an unprecedented height and weight. That obscurity alone makes me very intrigued in his stock going forward. Imagine lining up against this behemoth who was a former rugby player, good luck.

Strengths: Insane size and brute power at the point of attack in the run game and fits best in Gap/Power systems where his grip strength to sustain and push is eye-popping. Underrated athleticism for a guy his size who can redirect his weight to position well for a block. Stout anchoring ability, when he gets his thick arms on you, it's over. Good pass protector on short/jump sets who gets out of his stance fairly well.

Weaknesses: Foot speed on vertical kick steps will likely always be a problem and thus he can struggle versus speed rushers or need help in the form of a chip. Needs to refine his use of hands, the timing and placement of his strike in pass pro will make or break his effectiveness. Good athlete for his size, but below average for the typical offensive lineman and will not fare well in a zone-based run offense.

Fit on team: Nick Caserio believes in the Patriots' philosophy when it comes to offensive linemen - get the biggest guys on the field and utilize their power in the run game while hiding their pass pro weaknesses with play-action and 3-step drops. Faalele fits that archetype to a tee and could be a Pro Bowl starting right tackle if the Charlie Heck/Marcus Cannon route does not work out. He can provide a mauling force in the run game and will be best helped out in pass protection in a play-action heavy offense, which I hope Tim Kelly can lean on.

Reminds me of: Trent Brown, Orlando Brown

Projected: 3rd round

Interior Offensive Linemen

Ikem Ekwonu, 6'4, 320, NC State, 3SO

Continuing with the theme of a physical identity in the trenches, I bring you a former wrestler and the best run blocking guard in the draft. I think Ekwonu will prove himself nicely and be worthy of a top 50 pick, especially for a team looking to set the tone in the trenches.

Strengths: Squatty build and thick frame help generate natural power and push at the point of attack. Plays with inspiring competitive toughness and is looking to put defenders into the dirt. Played left tackle and left guard but does his best work at guard where he shows enough athleticism to get out in space and make blocks at the 2nd level. Can excel in a gap/power and inside zone heavy offense that maximizes his ability to pave lanes in the run game. Functional quickness out of his stance to position himself well in pass protection.

Weaknesses: Refining his technique in pass protection will be very important as he plays with high pad level that hurts his ability to anchor despite elite strength. Most importantly, his use of hands looks atrocious at times and he struggles to time and place his strike which leaves him very vulnerable and gave up 25 pressures+7 sacks last season.

Fit on team: You get the point by now, big offensive lineman, power+inside zone run game, try and hide his deficiencies in pass protection with play-action. If the Texans really want to exhibit the defense+run game identity to win games, loading up on these mauling offensive linemen will be a wise plan.

Reminds me of: Deonte Brown, Marcus Cannon at Guard

Projected: 2nd round

Defensive Linemen

Demarvin Leal, 6'4, 290, Texas A&M, 3JR

I'll be writing about Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux soon, so I wanted to discuss the 2nd best defensive player in this class which is in my opinion, Aggies Demarvin Leal. I'm going to cheat and lump together EDGE and IDL as one position (a cardinal sin of mine so forgive me) because Leal can kill two birds with one stone. He's a tweener prospect who has played everywhere from Nose Tackle to standup OLB for the A&M defense and guys with his size and power simply shouldn't move like he does.

*in the 2nd clip he's at the bottom of the screen, not top

Strengths: Positional versatility while playing run and pass at all positions along the DL. Best at EDGE where he shows flashes of a nuanced rush plan and counter moves. Understands how to setup offensive tackles in the 1st half and will wreck havoc on 3rd downs and in the 2nd half. Loves to use a stutter-arm over to embarrass tackles and has a devastating bull rush too. Powerful hands that control the POA in the run game and has the processing skills to diagnose plays.

Weaknesses: Good, not elite athlete for a pure edge, hence being played inside and being listed as a DT by many draft sites. Get-off and bend are solid but not what you'd be looking for out of an alpha, double digit sack type of pass rusher. Goes on cold streaks where his impact is not felt and has inconsistent hand usage where he struggles to time his moves well.

Fit on team: The Texans already have two defensive lineman with inside-outside versatility in Charles Omenihu and Demarcus Walker, so why not add a 3rd? Leal can provide Lovie Smith the opportunity to expand his system and become more creative in how he deploys his fronts. Everything starts with the DL in this scheme and being able to get pressure by just rushing four is what Lovie wants and Leal can provide.

Reminds me of: Chris Jones, Michael Bennett

Projected: Top 10 pick


Carlton Martial, 5'9, 210, Troy, 4SR

While he's undersized for the LB position, don't tell Martial that, as he led the nation in tackles (114 in 11 games) last year. He plays with a fiery passion necessary of the position and has flashes of coverage ability with 4 INTs and 4 PBUs in the past 2 seasons.

Strengths: Short squatty frame provides low center of gravity to win point of attack and create push vs run blockers. Intense competitive toughness who plays bigger than his size as a MIKE. Has very good sideline to sideline speed to follow horizontal runs and the agility and loose hips to knife and squeeze through gaps versus vertical runs. Very good instincts and processing puts him near the ball and allows him to diagnose runs through traffic and versus motion, misdirection and options. Solid flashes in zone coverage due to athletic ability and instincts for route combinations.

Weaknesses: Size will likely limit him to a sub package role or a move to safety at the next level. He already has some struggles getting off blocks at Troy, that won't get better in the NFL. Poor in man coverage as he can be overly aggressive and also lacks the desired arm length to break up passes at the catch point.

Fit on team: The Texans don't have a future plan at MIKE LB and I don't think Christian Kirksey provides the athletic coverage abilities that Lovie desires from that position. Getting a tweener like Martial to play that role could be ideal and early on I think he would bring immense value on clear passing situations.

Reminds me of: Poor man's Ray Lewis, Deonne Bucannon, yeah he's just a unique guy

Projected: Rounds 5-7


Coby Bryant, 6'1, 198, Cincinnati, 5SR

I'll also be writing about Derek Stingley eventually and while this is a very deep CB class, I wanted to bring up someone a bit under the radar. The "Best name in the draft" award goes to none other than Coby Bryant who will certainly be one of "my guys" all year. I like senior CBs as they have the experience to translate to the NFL a bit quicker than underclassmen and Bryant provides production and eye-popping plays.

Strengths: Possesses great size for the position and is a fluid athlete with smooth hips that allow him to transition with receivers easily. He's best in zone coverage where he can read the QBs eyes like a hawk and break on the ball aggressively. Bryant plays CB like a WR, showing great ball tracking and the high-pointing skills to bring in interceptions. He shows flashes in press-man coverage and knows how to use his body+physicality to box out WRs from the catch point.

Weaknesses: Bryant's aggression can come back to bite him as he struggles with double moves like stutter-gos and post-curls as he wants to jump on the initial route. Furthermore, Bryant has some struggles in off man coverage where he doesn't seem to trust his deep speed and struggles to explosively click and close on underneath routes. Tackling technique and effort should also be cleaned up, but isn't as big of an issue.

Fit on team: Bryant possesses great height and athleticism for what Lovie wants on the outside. While he is rumored to have relatively short arms, he makes up for it with his physicality, aggressiveness and WR-like tendencies at the catch point. He's someone who will force turnovers with ease in a zone heavy system and that's exactly what Lovie desires.

Reminds me of: Marcus Peters

Projected: 3rd round


Jalen Catalon, 5'10, 200, Arkansas, 3SO

Arguably the most exciting player for me to watch in my Summer scouting has been the fiery safety, Jalen Catalon. I love players who are a bit undersized for the position but play bigger than their size and fly around the field, and Catalon is just that. He's a highlight play waiting to happen and is a playmaker in the secondary.

Strengths: Elite athlete who combines rare instincts with blazing foot speed to teleport around the field. Nose for the ball and loves to get his hands dirty supporting in run defense. Big hitter who drops a deadly shoulder and leaves receivers laying in the ground, contemplating crossing over the middle of the field next time. Catalon excels at playing deep safety and taking away deep crossing routes that are becoming more and more of a staple in modern offenses. He also has special route combination recognition in zone coverage, not being fooled by high-lows and being able to cover multiple receivers at once.

Weaknesses: Catalon can improve his pursuit angles when tracking down East-West runs and must also clean up his tackling technique. He needs to understand that going for the big hit is not always the right play and that he should throttle down, square up and wrap up more often. Some scouts are worried about Catalon's size and are pigeon holing him into a nickel role - to me, this just increases his positional versatility and I'm not very worried about his size.

Fit on team: In Lovie's traditional Tampa 2 defense it requires two safeties with good range, zone coverage prowess and a willingness to defend the run - Catalon checks all those boxes. We've also seen more single high looks with the starters Justin Reid and Eric Murray, asking Reid to be the single high and Murray to play in the box. I feel more confident in Catalon as the deep safety role, and depending on resigning/extending Reid, Catalon could be a great play. He will certainly help to bring the tenacious mentality that we are showing in the trenches, to the secondary.

Reminds me of: Budda Baker, Darnell Savage

Projected: 1st-2nd round

Concluding Thoughts

Ten positions down - sorry again DL fans - and I hope you enjoyed a quick look at some prospects who could interest the Texans. The draft is a long way away so rankings will change and I'm sure there will be many more players who I'd love to see in Battle Red. Follow along on this journey as the Texans look to rebuild and hopefully have plenty of draft capital to do so.