The Super Bowl may be on Sunday but for the rest of the NFL world, it is all systems go on the offseason.
The Houston Texans have already begun work on their 2024 NFL draft class at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and the Shrine Bowl last week. The next event will come soon with the NFL Combine in Indianapolis at the end of the month.
Last week, the Texans Wire was on scene at the Senior Bowl and did a mock exclusively with the players who showed out at this event. Today, this mock will examine all draft eligible players for a four-round mock draft.
Round 1, Pick 23: DT Byron Murphy, Texas
Head coach DeMeco Ryans ended the 2023 campaign talking about how the Texans needed to improve on the trenches defensively. The comments came after a second half in Baltimore during the AFC divisional round, where the Ravens gradually overwhelmed the Texans on the ground.
There are few better places to look than the University of Texas. It was the larger than live T’Vondre Sweat, who won the Outland Trophy and gathered in-season attention this past year. However, Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Byron Murphy projects as potentially the better NFL prospect and better fit for Ryans’ defense.
Highest pass rush win rate among 2024 NFL Draft defensive tackles:
• Byron Murphy II, Texas – 20% (6 sacks)
• Michael Hall Jr., OSU – 18% (2 sacks)
• Norell Pollard, VT – 16% (3 sacks)
• Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois – 15% (8 sacks)
• T’Vondre Sweat, Texas – 15% (2 sacks) pic.twitter.com/BgUWUQRaQC
— NFL Draft Files (@NFL_DF) February 4, 2024
The 6-foot-1, 300-pound defensive tackle would slot in perfectly next to Maliek Collins and Sheldon Rankins should they elect to bring him back. His game relies on explosive burst and he’s the interchangeable three-technique penetrating defensive tackle that this defense covets and could be extremely disruptive under Ryans’ use. Not to mention the football personality this team constantly preaches they value.
He’s not a flawless prospect and his size may struggle with double teams at the next level. However, a strong showing in Indianapolis could put the athletic Murphy even out of reach for Houston.
Byron Murphy splits the double and makes the run stoppic.twitter.com/uVIGoKW9c2
— mike (@bengals_sans) February 4, 2024
Round 2, Pick 59: WR Roman Wilson, Michigan
A lot of NFL evaluators fell in love with Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson this past week at the Senior Bowl, as he was the best receiver at the event prior to exiting after two days of practice.
It may be hard for Nick Caserio not to fall in love with the idea of placing Wilson next to Nico Collins and Tank Dell.
Roman Wilson calls out for Quinyon Mitchell on one of the last plays of practice.
Wins the route and brings in a late throw with one hand from Michael Penix.
Wilson is printing money for himself here in Mobile. pic.twitter.com/M3DKw7bCfK
— John Crumpler (@JohnHCrumpler) January 31, 2024
The 6-foot, 190-pound receiver profiles as an explosive Z receiver whose speed could perfectly compliment the interchangeable slot-outside game of Collins and Dell. He’d force defenses to further respect Houston vertically, opening up the run game, and serve as yet another reliable, cheap target for quarterback C.J. Stroud.
His lean frame will be a concern for some but the last two years in the NFL have shown ample performances from receiver that size is not the most important factor. Wilson’s explosiveness and sure hands would be a major asset for the Texans.
Michigan WR Roman Wilson: One of the most reliable pass-catchers in the country.
In mobile at 186 pounds this week. pic.twitter.com/FzPdwImkLa
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 30, 2024
Round 3, Pick 85: S Javon Bullard, Georgia
Houston desperately needs safety help.
Free agent addition Jimmie Ward struggled to stay on the field and Jalen Pitre had such a dramatic sophomore slump that some have questioned if he’d be better fit for a transition to nickel. As such, the Texans need at least one safety this offseason and probably two, if they’re being honest.
Enter Georgia’s Javon Bullard.
Georgia's Javon Bullard was named top DS on the American team in a vote from WR and RB teammates at practice player-of-the-week awards ceremony today at 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ pic.twitter.com/MZXIyFGh1q
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 2, 2024
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound safety had 56 total tackles last season for the Bulldogs in addition to two interceptions. He was the Defensive MVP of the 2023 National Championship Game and continued his run of dominance at the Senior Bowl where he was named the best safety on the American Team.
Bullard is a rangy athlete on the back end with great play recognition and ball skills. He’d be an immediate starter at free safety for Houston and could play an enormous role in slowing down the explosive plays that killed the secondary last season.
Round 4, Pick 124: TE Theo Johnson, Penn State
Dalton Schultz is a free agent and the tight end position is a bit of question mark for Houston entering the offseason. It would be prudent for the team to address this in the draft and Theo Johnson would be a phenomenal Day 3 fit.
The 6-foot-6 tight end was dominant at the Senior Bowl with good blocking, consistent hands and better separation than most of his peers at the event. He profiles perfectly as someone that Slowik could trust to help his run game while also contributing in a meaningful way to the passing game.
His blocking work will need help at the NFL level but investing late in someone who understands coverages and his responsibilities as a professional would be a great investment for the Texans.
Round 4, Pick 127: CB Cam Hart, Notre Dame
Last year, Nick Caserio hammered the Senior Bowl with four players, he does it again here.
Cam Hart played heavily at cornerback the last tgree seasons for Notre Dame and turned a ticket to the Senior Bowl into a phenomenal opportunity. All week he did a good job of staying in phase with wide receivers and showed off his strength at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds. There was one play in particular on the speedy Tez Walker, where Hart showed just what he might be able to bring at the next level.
Cam Hart reads the run, triggers, and crashes down for the TFL pic.twitter.com/5bLfNXhbmY
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 3, 2024
Hart would be a great cornerback to mold on Day 3 for Houston’s quarters heavy system and he’d be an immediate asset in run support. His strength and speed would have time to come to fruition while playing across from Derek Stingley and the team could find themselves with a beyond serviceable No. 2 corner by the second year.