Needs: The Texans were the only team in the NFL not to sign an outside player in free agency, opting to do very little on the open market. They did trade Brock Osweiler and unload his contract on the cap-rich Browns, but that did nothing to solve their quarterback conundrum. Beyond quarterback, the Texans also need a right tackle, safety, cornerback and tight end.
Picks: First round (25), second round (57), third round (89), fourth round (131), fifth round (169), sixth round (188), seventh round (243).
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Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Texans’ fallback plan at quarterback fell through when Tony Romo left to go into broadcasting, so now they’re left with very few options. It’s either Tom Savage or a rookie, and there’s no guarantee and of the top prospects will fall to No. 25. However, if Mahomes somehow makes it there, the Texans should pounce.
They’ve done plenty of homework on the gunslinger with Mahomes himself saying he believes Bill O’Brien likes him a lot. And that should come as no surprise considering what O’Brien looks for in a quarterback. He should be their top target in Round 1 because Savage isn’t carrying them to the playoffs.
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Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
It remains to be seen where Robinson will play in the NFL, but it’ll likely be inside at guard or at right tackle. That bodes well for Houston because it has a need at both spots. Robinson is a big lineman, but he doesn’t have the feet or technique to hold up at left tackle.
There’s a decent chance he slides to No. 25, but the Texans shouldn’t bank on it. If they really like him, a trade up might need to happen – even though it wouldn’t be worth doing for a player of his level.
Melifonwu is legitimately one of the best athletes to come out in the past few years, absolutely lighting up the Combine. His tape isn’t nearly as good as his workout numbers, but some team will fall in love with his potential and make him a first-round pick. That team might be the Texans.
With Quintin Demps now in Chicago, the Texans have a hole at safety next to Andre Hall. Melifonwu can be a weapon in the secondary, playing all over the field: in the slot, in the deep-middle, manning up on tight ends.
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Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
Despite losing A.J. Bouye, the Texans are still one of the deepest teams at cornerback. That doesn’t mean they should completely ignore the position in the draft, though. Sutton is likely to be a third-rounder, so it won’t cost Houston a premium pick, but he has the potential to develop into a good nickel corner.
Because he lacks top-end speed and height (5-11), Sutton will likely have to play inside in the slot. He’s good in man coverage, which always helps for a nickel corner, but he needs to add some bulk to his wiry 188-pound frame.
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Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
The Texans already have C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin, but they’re not necessarily long-term answers. That’s what makes Butt such an ideal pick for the Texans. He’ll likely have to redshirt as a rookie before taking over as a starter in Year 2.
He has all the traits you look for in a tight end – route running, hands, blocking – and can be a perennial Pro Bowler as a chain-mover. With the Texans likely going with a young quarterback in the draft, Butt can develop alongside him once he does get on the field. If not for his ACL injury, he’d be a first-round pick.