Houston Texans Rumors: Team could target a pass rusher early in NFL Draft

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and DC Romeo Crennel (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and DC Romeo Crennel (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans will be partaking in the NFL Draft in a couple of months and the latest report is that they’ll be seeking a pass rusher. Let’s look.

The Houston Texans have gone through a myriad of necessary changes in the off season so far with promotions/hires to its offensive/defensive staff. We’ll have to see how Tim Kelly does in his new role as the Houston Texans play-caller as well as former team members Brian Cushing and T.J. Yates (offensive assistant) being hired onto the staff as well.

Cushing’s desire to view things from a different perspectives from the sidelines — he’s now the new assistant strength and conditioning coach — will be something we’ll have to keep our eyes on as well.

Carl Smith is an intriguing hire as the new quarterbacks coach as he’s had notable success with QBs through his three-decades long career on the sidelines.  Russell Wilson has been his greatest achievement to date but he’s been able to get the most of Matt Leinert (USC), Drew Bledsoe, Bobby Hebert and even David Garrard.

But as free agency will be landing upon us within the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see which way they go.  Will they go all-in or take a conservative approach like season?  They’ll have about $80 million in space so that should be more than enough to get the job done to complement the talent that they already have.

But as the NFL Draft looms further ahead next month — the latest report from Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com indicates that the Houston Texans could be seeking a pass-rusher likely in the second round.  He says they “feel” they need another pass-rusher.

This would certainly signal two things — firstly, they’re looking to move on from Whitney Mercilus who saw a concerning decline in production despite being relatively healthy last season.  Secondly, they could be looking at a package to trade Jadeveon Clowney after applying the franchise tag and finding a replacement for his production, depending on what kind of a return they’d get from a potential trade.

The latter is just speculation on my part as it think it’d be more prudent to tag him and play out this season as the defense is so much better with him than without and it gets this team ever-closer to approaching a Super Bowl appearance.

I talked about Mercilus’ decline two weeks ago and specifically advocated that the Houston Texans attempt to trade him if there’s an opportunity to get a fair return.

So if Mercilus is possibly on the way out, who’s on the way in?

The perfect fit for the Houston Texans to draft in the first round is Mississippi State’s 3-4 outside linebacker Montez Sweat but he’s projected to be picked early plus the team has alarming needs on the offensive line so I doubt they’ll use a first-rounder on an EDGE rusher but that could be a possibility.

A terrific alternative would certainly be Georgia’s D’Andre Walker who certainly has been battle-tested by playing in the SEC, the closest thing to a farm-system for the NFL.

By the way, the team owns the 54th and 55nd picks of the second round as a result of the Duane Brown trade made back in 2017.

He closely matches the adage that general manager Brian Gaine has reiterated in press conferences of finding guys that are “stronger, longer and faster.”

The 6-foot-2, 251-pound lineman with a 33.1-inch reach and 9.6-inch hands would be able to immerse himself seamlessly into Romeo Crennel’s game plan and he’d make an immediate impact to that unit’s potency.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, here’s what the experts are saying about him.

Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com:

"“Walker recorded 45 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and threeMore from House of HoustonAre you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?Houston Texans: 4 reasons Romeo Crennel is right coach right nowAstros-Twins Wild Card Series: 5 things to know as MLB postseason beginsHouston Texans: The Most Underrated Sports Drought EverHouston Texans: J.J. Watt’s early case for NFL Hall of Famepasses batted in 2018. He was a nice replacement for Lorenzo Carter, showing a nice ability to blitz off the edge. Walker finished the regular season playing well for Georgia.”"

Kyle Crabbs of the Draft Network:

"“D’Andre Walker projects as an early down EDGE defender in the NFL. Walker shows great anchor and punch in his hands to reset the LOS, but his ability to rush the passer will hinder his ability to stay on the field with regularity. Walker is ideally a player who gets subbed off the field in obvious passing situations in order to allow more explosiveness and variety off the edge. Walker could feasibly fit a “starting” role, just one with tempered snap %s.”"

Ric Seritella of NFLDraftScout.com before the start of 2018:

"“OLB D’Andre Walker, a senior, sets the edge for the Bulldogs’ defense, one of the top units in the country. Walker possesses burst, bend and length, while showing the ability to defend against the run, drop back in coverage or get after the quarterback. Despite this being his first season as a starter (41 games without a start entering the year), Walker has made plenty of big plays during his career. He lacked discipline early on in his career and was flagged for a lot of penalties, but he has corralled that issue over the past year and a half. He has been used as a hand-in-the-dirt rusher but primarily lines up at outside linebacker in the Dawgs’ 3-4 scheme and could also play inside linebacker.”"

So the consensus is that he’s got plenty of upside, is versatile but has some work to do in improving his pass-rushing abilities.  Is Walker someone the Houston Texans will decide to target?

dark. Next. Texans: Team should consider trading Whitney Mercilus

We’ll have to keep an eye on that as this situation develops over time.