3 draft prospects Texans fans should watch this weekend

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HOUSTON — Due to their schedule bye, the 1-8 Houston Texans will not be in action on Sunday during Week 10 of the NFL season. And even though fans of the Texans will not have an opportunity to watch their favorite team play, Week 11 of college football will be just as relevant.

It’s an opportunity for fans to scout some of the top collegiate prospects that the Texans are in the running for ahead of the 2022 NFL draft in April.

For a glimpse into the recruiting process, here are three prospects Texans fans should watch on Saturday that could be a draft target for Houston.

1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon

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Ten years ago, the Texans used their first selection of the 2011 NFL Draft to select J.J. Watt from the University of Wisconsin.

By using their first pick on Watt, the Texans had the honor of having one of the best defensive ends of the past decade to represent their franchise. The unknown Wisconsin prodigy became a three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and a five-time Pro-Bowler during his 10-year tenure in Houston.

A decade later, the Texans may have another opportunity to draft a generational defensive lineman in Thibodeaux from Oregon.

Through the first six games of the collegiate season, Thibodeaux has established himself as the top prospect of 2022. And on Saturday, Thibodeaux’s talents will be on full display when the 8-1 Oregon Ducks takes on the 5-4 Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium.

Similar to his play throughout the first six games of the season, Thibodeaux will remain a disturber on Oregon’s defensive line — given his ability to disrupt Washington’s back field.

Entering their match against the Ducks, the Cougars have already given up seven sacks to their starting quarterback Jayden De Laura, so Thibodeaux may have an opportunity to feast on Washington State’s subpar offensive line.

2. Kaiir Elam, cornerback, Florida

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Throughout their 19 years in existence, the Texans have yet to possess a lockdown cornerback. The closest Houston has ever been to a franchise cornerback was Johnathan Joseph — but the Texan legend was already a six-year veteran by the time he arrived in Houston during the 2012 offseason.

In hopes of breaking the mode and finally obtaining a star corner, one should keep their sights on the Florida defensive back.

On Saturday, Elam and the 4-5 Gators will look to end a losing skid of their own against the 4-5 Samford Bulldogs. During his three collegiate seasons at Florida, Elam has showcased all the attributes that have made him a top desirable corner for several NFL teams.

With a career of 18 recorded pass deflections and six interceptions, Elam can make plays on the ball to create takeaways or force incomplete passes. But Elam’s most significant trait as a defensive back is his 6-foot-2 stature.

With his size, Elam has the capabilities to match opposite of some of the best receivers in the NFL. Elam can play physically coming off the line of scrimmage, which will result in him disrupting a receiver’s route.

Against the Bulldogs, Elam will match alongside receiver Montrell Washington — who is currently leading Samford in reception yards with 688 on the season.

3. Jayden Daniels, quarterback, Arizona State

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Davis Mills is one of a handful of players who will stick around with the Texans for the 2022 season. The idea of Houston drafting or scouting another quarterback is notorious to most, but one must assess arguably one of the best — and underrated — players under center entering the 2022 draft in Daniels.

Daniels is the prototypical quarterback in today’s NFL. He has the versatility to create plays from the pocket and can use his legs to assist his team in the run game.

On Saturday, Daniels and the 6-3 Arizona State Sun Devils will attempt to make it two wins in a row when they take on the 4-5 Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium.

If Daniels can throw for over 200 yards for the sixth time in nine games, perhaps it will start some momentum that will assist in him improving his draft stock.

A prominent performance on Saturday will be beneficial — given that Daniels will play on a day that doesn’t feature Sam Howell, Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis.

As a three-year starter, Daniels has thrown for 1,880 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 482 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

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