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DraftNerds: 2023 Houston Texans Seven-Round Mock Draft

Safe to say the 2022 NFL season was not good to the Houston Texans – but their 2023 NFL Draft class can help right the ship.

It is never too early to look ahead to the next incoming crop of NFL prospects and how they could fit with your favorite teams. Beginning that planning process at this point in the offseason is a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of your dynasty fantasy football league. It is also staying one step ahead of your league mates.

But buyer beware – if you find a draft crush at this point in the offseason, you may be inclined to try and do whatever you can to ensure you secure him in your upcoming rookie drafts. It’s a smart tactic to have a few ‘My Guys’ you would love to come out of every draft with. However, fixating on a particular player or three at this point could lead to making a foolish decision. That could derail a successful offseason before it even begins.

The ProFootballFocus mock draft tool was used for this article. Compensatory picks have not yet been assigned and were not factored into the draft order for this article.

2022 Season Recap

It is safe to say that, even with low expectations, the Texans 2022 season failed on most accounts. Failing to develop most of its roster for their future, combined with needing to find yet another head coach after firing Lovie Smith and losing out the first overall pick, made for a typical Texans offseason but one of frequent disappointment.

Dameon Pierce and Jalen Pitre look to be the few building blocks this roster has. That means that Davis Mills III is likely out as the team’s starting quarterback.

2023 Free Agent Departures

22 players will be entering free agency from the Texans this offseason, a huge chance to flip this roster on its head. With a roster without any long-term talent to build around, GM Nick Caserio knows the importance of the upcoming offseason, especially with his job growing warmer by the day.

With no big-time names in their free agent class, the Texans could very well need to fill over 15 depth roles this offseason, a huge undertaking for Caserio and the new coaching staff. Thankfully for the new incoming staff, they will have a reshuffled deck in terms of players at their disposal. That opportunity could entice a few candidates to join the rebuild.

1.02 – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Regardless of if the Texans swap picks with the Chicago Bears or hold tight, a quarterback will likely be their top selection. With Alabama quarterback Bryce Young headlining the incoming quarterback class, he is one of the easier selections to mock for the Texans.

Young’s impact would be seen immediately, as finally bringing in that franchise quarterback is exactly the jolt this team needs. Without a ton of other offensive talent to speak of, Young will have to do the heavy lifting right out of the gate for Houston.

1.12 – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Grabbing two consecutive offensive playmakers to start the 2023 NFL Draft would be a bold tactic by Caserio. Pairing a franchise quarterback with a stud wide receiver in Jaxon Smith-Njigba would do a ton for this team, not just for the on-field product.

Getting Young his top target right away is a great way to try and squeeze as much rookie-year success out as possible, and JSN is one of the best wide receivers in this year’s class. His combination of fluid motion, sharp cuts, and breakaway mobility rival what is cooked up in a lab for a prototypical NFL wide receiver nowadays. Their fanbase would have something to cheer for.

2.33 – BJ Ojulari, ED, LSU

Heading to the defensive side of the ball for the first time in this mock draft, the Texans add talent to their edge rusher group with LSU’s BJ Ojulari. Explosiveness defines his game, as his get-off speed in a pass-rushing rep is incredibly quick and precise.

Ojulari has a bunch of moves in his arsenal to get around opposing linemen. His athleticism is infrequently matched in this year’s edge class. Concerns about his decisiveness could lower his stock, but he likely will put up some big numbers in LSU’s Pro Day, which should keep him as a fringe first-round option.

3.65 – Blake Freeland, T, BYU

Even with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard as the team’s bookends on the offensive line, you can never have too much depth, which is where BYU’s Blake Freeland comes into play. A four-year starter for the Cougars, Freeland is a technician on the outside, regularly stifling opposing pass rushers.

While not necessarily having a locked-in role to start the year, Freeland’s talent alone should be enough to earn some playing time as the season progresses, especially if either Howard or Tunsil goes down with an injury.

(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire)

3.73 – Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon

Penei Sewell’s younger brother, Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell, comes in as the fourth selection of the draft for the Texans. Pre-draft hype may very well drive his stock through the roof to the point where he is safely in the second round, but for this purpose, he is a third-round selection for Houston.

Sewell seeks out the football with a vengeance and focuses his efforts downhill in the run game. With some concerns around his coverage skills, he likely would hold more of a box-linebacker role than anything, which could limit his exposure to third downs early on.

4.104 – Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin

Heading back to the offensive line, center Joe Tippmann could be this team’s starting center for Young in Week 1. Wisconsin is well known as one of the top offensive linemen producers in the NCAA, and Tippmann is just another player to come out of the program. With enough flexibility in his style of play to fit almost any offensive style, Tippmann looks to be the prototypical offensive lineman from UW. The kind of player who has a long NFL career but continuously goes under-appreciated across his 8+ year career.

5.137 – Atonio Mafi, G, UCLA

The second-consecutive offensive lineman is another inside piece, as UCLA Atonio Mafi joins the Texans. Having lost over 70 pounds before his final collegiate season, Mafi showed determination to get into playing shape. He was rewarded with a Second Team All-PAC-12 accolade.

Mafi earned big ups from PFF in their end-of-year offensive line grades, and while he still has plenty to improve on, he could be a Day 1 starter for the Texans.

6.201 – Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota

Getting into the sixth round, the Texans would be smart to add a running back piece to complement Pierce, and Minnesota rookie Mohamed Ibrahim would be a good fit.

Not getting the same hype as Sean Tucker, Jahmyr Gibbs, and others in this class, Ibrahim was a workhorse for the Golden Gophers but excelled in a run-heavy attack. While the Texans certainly are not that, Ibrahim can help take some of the load off Pierce to keep the starter fresh, and Ibrahim is more than capable of commanding the backfield should Pierce miss any time.

6.204 – Tyler Steen, T, Alabama

The fourth and final offensive line addition is another tackle, as Alabama’s Tyler Steen joins an impressive, young offensive line group. Coming from Alabama always boosts your draft stock. Steen may not be as heralded as other Crimson Tide offensive linemen. His athleticism will help him get and keep a job in the NFL.

7.218 – Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama

Nothing flashy about Houston’s first pick of the seventh round – Cameron Latu is your typical late-draft tight end flyer, one that profiles as a great complimentary piece with a high IQ. his physical skills likely will not allow for him to become a team’s top tight end, but Latu’s familiarity with an NFL playbook and schematic elements will be a huge help in his draft process.

7.236 – Puka Nacua – WR, BYU

A second wideout was brought in as a part of the Texans’ draft class, as BYU’s Puka Nacua joins the ranks. With a strong package of WR traits ready for Young to put to use, Nacua could be one of the best sleepers in this entire draft, especially entering a situation where he could be the WR3 on this team in Week 1 (depending on how the offseason progresses).

7.258 – Darrell Luter Jr. – CB, South Alabama

Houston’s final pick of the 2023 NFL Draft addresses the defensive secondary for the first time as South Alabama cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. joins the team. Coming from a small school can hinder players entering the draft, but Luter’s talent could present itself as a real steal at this point in the draft. Luter’s stock relies on his height and physicality, two elements that will help get him on the radars of teams.

2023 Fantasy Impact

The additions of Young and Smith-Njigba alone finally make the Texans a team to target for your fantasy rosters. Young is the clear-cut QB1 in both 1-QB and Superflex formats, and Smith-Njigba is vying for the WR1 of the class – you pair both of these players together on your roster, and you have a great young stack to build around.

For Ibrahim, Latu, and Nacua, their roles are difficult to forecast at the moment. Ibrahim is the likeliest of the bunch to earn regular playing time in his rookie season. But any of these three players very well could see the field on a regular basis.

Young and JSN are the two players to fixate on in your upcoming drafts – somehow, getting both sets you up for many years to come, but each player presents a ton of value. There may be teams that don’t want anything to do with either of these players because of the team they are on – and that is music to your ears, seeing as how you prefer to follow the talent and not the situation.

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