Houston Texans 2022 NFL draft target: Houston Cougars DE D’Anthony Jones

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The Houston Texans will have some drop off at edge defender after the 2021 season.

Former 2012 first-round pick Whitney Mercilus and former Seattle Seahawks 2018 sixth-round pick Jacob Martin will both be out of contracts after the 2021 campaign. If the Texans decide that Mercilus, who will be 31 by season’s end, and Martin aren’t worth another contract, they will have to look to free agency or the draft to add to their edge defense.

Enter Houston Cougar defensive end D’Anthony Jones. The former Long Beach City College product saw his first action in “Group of Five” college football last year with nine combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a tackle for loss through three games.

According to Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus, Jones is a small school product that could have a breakout season in 2021.

Last year, Houston gave Jones the opportunity to rush the passer 63 times in his first year as a Cougar. He impressed immediately, tallying eight pressures on 14 opportunities in his season opener against Tulane. He closed out the season with an 84.2 pass-rush grade, a 30.2% win rate and a 22% pressure rate.

The scary part is that his pass-rush toolbox still has a lot of room to expand. He has a good get-off and showed the ability to consistently win the edge. This Houston line may have lost a first-round pick, but it can still be one of the most dangerous pass rushes in the Group of Five, with Logan Hall, Derek Parish and David Anenih all returning alongside Jones.

If Jones indeed lights it up on the edge for the Cougars during a full slate of games, the Texans need to consider adding the 6-2, 270-pound defensive end to their line. Houston wouldn’t have to give up much for Jones as he would be a late day two or early day three prospect in the 2022 NFL draft.