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DraftNerds: 2024 Houston Texans Mock Draft

The Texans are building a contender with CJ Stroud at the helm. How could they use to the Draft to improve and build a Super Bowl-caliber squad?

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Industry professionals and content creators will spend most of the dynasty off-season discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft.

We easily fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver. But a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to the Pro Football Network. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned or included in this exercise.

2023 Season Recap

The Texans surprised the world, going 10-7 and winning the AFC South in rookie quarterback CJ Stroud’s first season. The offense ranked 13th in points per game behind the strong passing attack. Stroud threw for 4,108 yards and 23 scores with only five interceptions. Nico Collins caught 80 passes for 1,297 yards and eight scores, and Tank Dell had 709 yards with seven TDs in his shortened season. They also retained tight end Dalton Schultz, who added 59 catches for 635 yards and five TDs.

Devin Singletary was the lead back and is off to the Giants. The Texans sent a seventh-round pick to the Bengals for veteran Joe Mixon. I’m not sure if that’s an upgrade, but Mixon is at least a steady, reliable back, and he will be a stable player for them.

The defense was also strong, ranking 11th in points against and only allowing 17 passing TDs, the fewest in the league. In addition, the Texans added some strong pieces in free agency, signing Danielle Hunter, Azeez Al-Shaair, and Jeff Okudah. The defense could be a top-ten unit in 2024.

2024 Mock Draft

2.42 Chris Braswell, EDGE Alabama

Over the last few years, Braswell has benefitted from not seeing double teams and having favorable pass-rushing reps on a loaded defensive front. He’s got wicked speed around the EDGE and can bend to get under tackles. Braswell has an array of moves he can win with, a few counters, and a strong bull rush against weaker linemen.

His game has a few concerns. Braswell doesn’t have a quick first step, and his initial jump is downright abysmal at times. He doesn’t have the power you’d like to see, and his lateral movement skills are a bit lacking. For IDP, Braswell is a player I am not targeting.

2.59 Kris Jenkins, DT Michigan

Few players in the draft play with the effort that Michigan’s Jenkins does. He’s a bit smaller than a typical defensive tackle, but his strength allows him to be effective in one-on-one situations. Jenkins gives effort in spades on every play, and routinely catches runners and quarterbacks from behind downfield. He’s a tremendous rotational piece for Houston, but I doubt he has much value for IDP.

3.86 Will Shipley, RB Clemson

Mixon is the lead back, but I mentioned Mixon’s efficiency has been dropping. He’s in a better situation and should be an RB2 for fantasy. But he will be 28 before the season and is approaching that “cliff” that most running backs hit.

Enter Shipley, the dynamic pass-catching back from Clemson. There were a few backs on the board with more of a three-down skillset, but I couldn’t pass on Shipley with Houston. He’s a better inside runner than most give him credit, but he’s lethal as a pass-catching option. Shipley has elite athleticism and can make defenders miss in space. Then, he’s got the burners to break a long run. Shipley would be entertaining in this offense, allowing them to add a dynamic element to complement Mixon’s stability.

4.123 Malik Washington, WR Virginia

The receiver room is in good shape, but another weapon would be helpful. Collins is the X-receiver and a reliable WR1 option. Dell will handle the slot and give them a deep threat. Schultz is the steady tight end, strong over the middle, and has another reliable pair of hands.

Washington profiles better as a slot receiver but did play out wide some with Virginia. He’s best when you manufacture touches for him; he’s dynamic in space and a bear to bring down. Washington transitions to a runner like Deebo Samuel; he’s got a thick build and runs strong with contact balance. He has strong hands and can be used in various ways – but will Houston get him enough touches to be fantasy-relevant?

4.127 Matt Goncalves, OT Pittsburgh

The former Pitt Panther tackle, Goncalves, profiles best as an interior lineman, but he’s versatile enough to play any line spot. He’s strong in pass-blocking, but his agility is a bit cumbersome. Goncalves struggles with multiple moves, and his footwork is delayed. He’s a depth piece on the line with the potential to start multiple games, but I don’t see him being a lineman that an offense wants to rely on.

6.188 Trey Taylor, S Air Force

An instinctive safety with athleticism, Taylor is a good depth defensive back with the ability to start in a pinch if needed. He’s got incredible instincts and recovers well if off balance. He plays fast, has sideline-to-sideline range, and is willing to come up in run support. Taylor isn’t the strongest safety; he struggles at the point of attack and shedding blocks.

7.224 Sundiata Anderson, EDGE Grambling State

With four seventh-round picks, I wanted to search for some guys who should be drafted and have a shot to make a roster. Anderson has ridiculous agility and length to be a pass-rusher, with 6’4″ and 245-lb. size, likely from the outside linebacker spot. He’s got a small collection of moves and a quick first step, but he needs to develop more against better competition. Anderson is already good in play recognition and run defense, so it’s just reps and facing competition that will be much more advanced than he is.

7.238 Qwant’tez Stiggers, CB CFL

One of the more interesting stories in the draft, Stiggers was the Canadian Football League Rookie of the Year with the Toronto Argos. He was slated to attend HBCU Lane College, but COVID-19 erased his first season, and his father’s death led him to miss the following season. Stiggers landed in Toronto, not having any college snaps, and impressed. He then impressed at the Shrine Bowl, and is worth a shot in the seventh round.

7.247 Jaylen Key, S Alabama

Key didn’t really stand out in a secondary littered with NFL talent, but that doesn’t mean he’s a terrible prospect. He has excellent size at 6’2″ and 210 pounds to be a free safety. He’s got range and covers ground quickly in run stopping and coverage. Key transferred from UAB to Alabama, and despite starting all season, he didn’t display enough consistently to show us what he could do.

7.251 Nathaniel Watson, LB Mississippi State

With their final pick, Watson gives the Texans a linebacker who can fill in at any linebacker spot and could develop into a starter. He’s solid in coverage, particularly zone, and has good instincts to read what the quarterback is doing. Watson gets downhill quickly and loves to hit but doesn’t sift through traffic well. He’s not particularly overwhelming as an athlete and is limited.

Draft Recap and Outlook

With the way the Texans are building, this may not be the sexiest draft, but it will help the team get even better this season. They are on the right path and could be within a few years of being a consistent force in the AFC.

Wiggins and Jenkins help the defense more than they will help your IDP squads. Both are basically undraftable in that format. Shipley and Washington could also fit in that bucket—both players will help the Texans’ offense, but neither will be reliable fantasy options—at least not now.

If Dell can’t stay healthy, I could see Washington establishing himself as the slot guy and working toward a WR3 for fantasy purposes. His skill set melds well with today’s NFL, and it would be wise for Houston to generate a way for Washington to get the ball.

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