The Houston Texans not only don’t have a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they don’t have a second-rounder either. They have to find the best value they can when they’re up.
Things aren’t exactly looking up for the Houston Texans; that’s also probably sugarcoating it. Not only did former head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien run their truck full of draft capital off a cliff but they are now left with a roster that’s almost devoid of talent, especially with JJ Watt’s departure this offseason.
And that’s before even considering the Deshaun Watson situation, a quarterback who was on his way to being traded but is now embroiled in serious legal trouble.
It’s going to be a long, arduous rebuild for the Texans and the 2021 NFL Draft, while they don’t have a first- or second-round pick, will be a key part of that. When they finally come on the clock with the No. 67 pick early in the third round, they must consistently find value and players who can fill roles for this talent-deficient roster.
That’s the approach they must take and the approach we take with this final 7-round mock draft for the Houston Texans.
Houston Texans 2021 mock draft: Final Edition
Round 3, Pick 67: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Frankly, the cornerback room in Houston has recognizable names and some good players, guys such as Bradley Roby, Terrance Mitchell and Desmond King. But the thing about those players is that they are all aging veterans on a team that’s not going to be winning anytime soon.
The Texans must find a future for their secondary and Tyson Campbell could be part of that. The Georgia product checks the boxes from a size and length standpoint at 6-2, 185 pounds but his speed is a bit limited, which only puts more of an onus on his lacking technique and mental lapses. But bringing him in to learn behind these veterans could set him up to develop and become a long-term option in Houston.
Round 4, Pick 109: Alim McNeill, IDL, NC State
Houston isn’t going to be able to replace JJ Watt. Even at this stage of his career, Watt remains a true force in the trenches and a player that a team not picking until Days 2 and 3 in the draft will be able to find someone to step in for.
That fact, however, necessitates solid depth, something that Alim McNeill could provide. He’s best as a run-stopper with his 6-2, 315-pound frame but he also shows nice explosion and burst for his frame to complement his great strength. He needs technical refinement but, as the Texans aren’t on a win-now timeline, he should have time to work and develop for this team.
Round 5, Pick 147: Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
First and foremost, Patrick Jones needs to put on a bit more weight at the NFL level if he’s going to succeed. His 264-pound frame is fine but it has room to add bulk, which could make him more effective given that he’s not a freakishly long player.
That said, he’s a quality run defender off the edge and has proven to be versatile playing in several roles while at Pitt. If he can bulk up and continue to develop his ability with his hands in the muck, he could be an asset for the Houston defense.
Round 5, Pick 158: Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
Safety is actually one of the few spots where the Texans look fine right now with Justin Reid and Lonnie Johnson both flashing nice offerings. The depth behind those players, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
Richard LeCounte III would likely be a higher pick if not for a dirt bike accident that caused serious injury in October of this past season. Even still, his film shows a player who moves well on the back end and could be a coverage asset, something that would be nice for Houston to add with a third safety to deploy in sub-package situations.
Round 6, Pick 195: Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
Brandin Cooks remains in Houston but the rest of the wide receiver depth chart doesn’t move the needle all that much. They need to find some longer-term solutions, no matter what happens at quarterback moving forward. Finding a player like Shi Smith early in the sixth round would help.
Smith isn’t a typical slot receiver in that he’s not overly fast, athletic or agile. However, he changes speed really well and is a fighter who can take contact and play physically for the ball. He needs some refinement as a route-runner but it’s not hard to see a player with his mentality succeeding in the NFL.
Round 6, Pick 203: Bryce Hargrove, IOL, Pittsburgh
Though the Texans made efforts to improve their offensive line under O’Brien, the unit still needs work. Bryce Hargrove could be a nice piece for them to work on developing. He’s exceptionally powerful on the interior and you even see that in the passing game, a rare and desirable trait. Hargrove needs to be reined in with over-aggressiveness that leads to abandoning technique and leverage but his profile is that of a player who could be useful as depth early and a starter in a couple of years.
Round 6, Pick 212: Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
We’re going back to the wide receiver well in the sixth round because, again, depth and long-term options are the issue. Cornell Powell is a player who offers a ton of upside.
Buried on the Clemson depth chart, Powell was basically thrust into action in his final season of 2020 and, shockingly, starred. He has nice speed and plays well on all levels of the field. His lack of experience means that the Texans will need to coach him up quite a bit but what he showed when stepping up this past year should intrigue Houston.
Round 7, Pick 233: Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State
Wrapping up their draft class, the Texans finish it off with a versatile player from the Sun Belt Conference in App State cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles.
Getting another young cornerback, Jean-Charles’ lack of length will likely move him inside at the pro level. He needs to be more fluid and show better footwork in coverage but his willing physicality will play well and he can come onto special teams and perform at a high level for the Texans there right away.