The Houston Texans have a dominant cornerback for the foreseeable future in Derek Stingley.
The Texans added the former LSU Tiger No. 3 overall in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL draft. Pairing Stingley with Steven Nelson gave the Texans a cornerback duo that gave opposing quarterbacks something to consider for nine games last season.
One approach to upgrading the Texans’ roster is to use another first-round pick on a cornerback to play opposite of Stingley, which would give the Texans a true no-fly zone with Jalen Pitre on the backend. However, Houston may not need to use their first-round or even second-round selections to find a partner for Stingley.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah claimed on a Feb. 24 conference call that he has as many as 20 cornerbacks listed that could go in the first three rounds.
“I think I’ve got 20 guys with top three round grades,” Jeremiah said. “I think it’s a really good group.”
As deep as the group is, there isn’t as sure of a blue-chip prospect as there was last season with Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner, according to Jeremiah.
“I was a big Sauce Gardner fan, so, I don’t put anybody in his class in this one,” said Jeremiah. “I don’t think there’s a Patrick Surtain in this class.”
The Texans could get burned on value if they use their No. 12 overall pick in Round 1 or their No. 33 overall pick in Round 2 on a cornerback, but they may not if they wait until the third round.
“Depth-wise, I think there’s a sweet spot, and I think you can look at different positions and find sweet spots,” Jeremiah said. “Again, I think I would love to have third round picks and need corners, running backs, tight ends. I think there’s — it’s just a really, really good group to choose from there. I think this is a good group of guys in that area.”
Looking at Pro Football Focus’ cornerback rankings, the sixth-best is Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes with a big board rank of 42. Team need factors into every draft, and teams don’t go strictly best player available, which would push Forbes further back into the draft. Houston’s initial Round 3 selection is at No. 65 overall, and Forbes may not make it that far.
Another consideration could be Syracuse’s Garrett Williams, who is listed at 49 on their big board. It still may be a little outside of Houston’s reach, but if general manager Nick Caserio is confident this is the player the organization needs, he would build a trade package to grab him.
One player that Houston may be able to get at both of their third-round spots would be TCU’s Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson, who is listed at No. 60 on PFF’s big board.