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Texans Wire 3-round mock draft: Elevate passing game, beef up the defense

The Houston Texans are still a few steps away from the 2023 NFL draft and finally cashing in on the excess draft capital from their 2022 offseason trade with the Cleveland Browns. A new coach will need to be hired and important decisions have to be made on how the team will use some of their available cap space. Regardless of any impending time, one look at fan comments at social media will show that fans are already thoroughly focused on the draft.

April’s projects as one of the biggest in franchise history with the opportunity to potentially select a franchise quarterback and three additional selections in the top-70 to provide desperately needed talent to one of the NFL’s worst rosters.

Draft season has barely begun and a lot will change in the upcoming months. The Senior Bowl, Shrine Bowl, NFL combine and, of course, individual pro days will play a huge part of re-shaping the board in the absence of additional games to watch. However, as a launch point, it’s still useful to think about who general manager Nick Caserio may draft if Roger Goodell took to the podium today.

Here’s an early prediction at a three-round Texans mock draft.

Round 1 (No. 2 overall) — QB Bryce Young, Alabama

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This pick, if it does come to fruition, will feel a long time coming for Houston fans. Young has been the best quarterback in college football for the last two seasons and his meteoric rise at Alabama coincided perfectly with the franchise’s spiral into poor play at the position.

Young brings a unique playing style that has NFL evaluators comparing him to the NBA’s Steph Curry and has an accuracy and poise that project as a high level passer at the next level. Ultimately, it’s Young’s play-extending ability and knack for feeling pressure in the pocket that elevates him over his peers in the 2023 class.

Drafting the Alabama product would not only change the direction of the franchise but also serve as a natural turning point for the team’s transition under a new head coach to playing competitive football. He’s the type of player that can elevate an offensive scheme and that coordinators will be excited to work with.

Round 1 (No. 12 overall) — WR Jordan Addison, USC

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(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

This pick will be a difficult one to project for Houston throughout the process. Their biggest needs are at wide receiver and defensive line but none of the projected players, at this point in the process, seem to match the relative value of the 12th overall pick that play those positions.

Mocking trades is a fruitless process, so in this scenario the Texans decide to go all-in on fixing their atrocious offense and draft Addison from USC. Addison is a natural route runner, has soft hands and always found ways to get open during his dominant college career at both Pittsburgh and USC.

The value of good receiver play in the NFL is at an all-time high and nothing may be more valuable than cheap receiver play. The Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers have all made it to the conference championship round with fantastic receiving options that are coincidentally also on rookie contracts. This is a position Houston would have to overpay in free agency if they chose to go that route, it may make the most sense to attack during the draft.

Round 2 (No. 33 overall) — DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that Houston desperately needs help in the trenches before going into the 2023 season. The team struggled to stop the run in 2022 and often struggled against the pass despite their elite secondary due to an inability to rush the passer.

Anudike-Uzomah might make a big difference in that department.

The 6-4, 255-pound defensive end from Kansas State was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and gathered 11 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks during the college football season. Betting on his physical talent and the massively improved production during his last season at Kansas State could make for a natural compliment across from Jonathan Greenard.

Round 3 (No. 65 overall) — S Christopher Smith, Georgia

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Last year, safeties Jalen Pitre and Jonathan Owens were both at the top of the NFL in total tackles at their position. A large part of this was due to former coach Lovie Smith putting his safeties in difficult positions and needing tackles at the second level. However, despite their phenomenal numbers, the defense showed that a high-level playmaker may be needed at the other safety position.

Smith is coming off a long career Georgia and a 2022 season where he was named an AP First-Team All-American and played a pivotal role in the Bulldogs repeating as national champions. He showed athleticism and discipline that could translate well to any scheme.

Putting a talented player like Smith under the coaching of a defensive specialist like Jonathan Gannon or Smith could yield huge dividends towards finding a future star outside of the first two rounds. Smith could be a logical compliment to the versatile Pitre and Houston could try to capitalize on the high IQ and productivity he flashed under Kirby Smart.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire