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Owsley’s Houston Texans Mock Draft 2.0

The Reese’s Senior Bowl proved to be an ample opportunity to reevaluate the talent of the prospects in this year’s draft. A few players rose in their draft stock, particularly one of my original late-round picks in tackle Christian Jones, while others fell back. With the Swiftie Bowl, I mean Super Bowl, over, the draft order is fully set, and it is time for the second edition of my mock draft series. 

Round 1, Pick 23: Brian Thomas Jr., WR (LSU)

Brian Thomas Jr. is the whole package. He stands 6’4" 210 lbs, but still shows phenomenal athleticism and body control. In the red zone, he is a safety blanket to lob the rock to, and in the open field, Thomas can generate space through a complex route tree. He could use a little work on breaking routes, but that is expected of a larger receiver like himself.

Tank Dell and Nico Collins are reliable wide receivers for the Texans, but there was a steep dropoff after those two. Noah Brown is a free agent who the organization is not expected to bring back, and the others were lackluster, to say the least. 2023 was his first year as a premier route runner, and with a couple of years under his belt, he could be the next great receiver out of Baton Rouge.

Round 2, Pick 59: Calen Bullock, S (USC)

I was very torn on this pick, but I ultimately went with Bullock over corner Khyree Jackson. I think safety is more of a need for the Texans, and there is plenty of corner talent later in the draft (foreshadowing). This being said, Calen Bullock checks all of the boxes for me. I believe him to be on the same level as Tyler Nubin and, honestly, a little above Kamren Kinchens, for a discounted price. Bullock is 6’3" 190 lbs, but his best attribute is his coverage ability. He was a receiver in high school, and it shows within his natural ball-hawking instincts.

The USC safety flies to the ball and has incredible instincts. His teammates have described him as being like a coach out on the field due to Bullock’s ability to call audibles before the snap. He will bring intelligence and excellent instincts to a safety room that did not produce as they were expected to. I also hope this pick will add pressure onto Jalen Pitre to recover from his sophomore slump.  

Round 3, Pick 85: T’Vondre Sweat, DT (Texas)

I have no idea why T’Vondre Sweat’s draft stock fell 30 picks. He was proven as a solid defensive tackle option throughout the college football season, and then he went to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and played phenomenally. Sweat proved himself to have a solid get-off and great hands, winning multiple pass-rushing reps, including an absolute burial of Beaux Limmer. 

T’Vondre Sweat was the backbone of an elite Texas defensive line. At 6’4" and 350 lbs, he is larger than life, and any interior lineman in the Big 12 can confirm. Despite this, he is a great athlete. Sweat had a pair of sacks and an impressive yard touchdown reception. If he is available in the third round, the Texans must take him to replace Sheldon Rankins. 

Round 4, Pick 124: Will Shipley, RB (Clemson)

Will Shipley is an incredibly pass-catching running back who excels best in the screen game and on sweeping runs. While he lacks the physicality to be overly effective between the tackles, I believe he will pair nicely with Dameon Pierce, who many have counted out from the Houston run game after a lackluster sophomore season. Pierce is on contract for another two seasons, so this duo could prove to be the last opportunity for him to prove it before Houston looks to move on from him. 

Round 4, Pick 128: Kalen King, CB (Penn St)

Kalen King was once thought to be a Day one corner, but after an inconsistent 2023 season and a sub-par Senior Bowl, King has slipped to a fourth-round grade. I think teams will be foolish to let him drop this low. He is a freak athlete who plays far more athletic than his 5'10" frame. While he struggled this past season, I believe with the right coaching, he can be a CB1 at the next level. His ball skills are the best of the best, and many of his highlights show off his ability to track down passes. 

King also isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty and will fly to the ball. What stood out in his film was his lack of discipline with his eyes. He is hesitant at the beginning of routes, forcing him to constantly be in recovery mode. Additionally, the Penn St corner often gets caught looking in the backfield allowing his receiver to gain a step on him. Ultimately, King has some of the highest potential in this class, given his current draft grade, and he will pair nicely with Derek Stingley. 

Round 5, Pick 161: Drake Nugent, C (Michigan) 

Anyone who has been the chubby kid in middle school knows that the offensive line starts at the center. Michigan has dominated in offensive line play during the last few seasons, and much of that is thanks to Drake Nugent. During his Michigan tenure, where they became the first back-to-back Joe Moore award-winning offensive line ever. In the national championship game, Michigan ran for over 300 yards on 8 yards a carry towards a dominant win. Nugent is a top-tier run blocker and does especially well in a phone booth. He will add help in the run game to a Texans roster that struggled heavily in the run game this season. 

Round 7, Pick 236: Edefuan Ulofoshio, LB (Washington)

Edefuan Ulofoshio should be rated higher than this. Point blank period. He has great size and athleticism and uses them well to cover tight ends and running backs.

While he may be at his best in coverage, Ulofoshio can chase well in traffic to make a play as well. He is another example of a player who needs the right coaching to help take his game to another level. His ceiling is incredibly high, and he could be a diamond in the rough for Coach DeMeco Ryans to elevate. 

Round 7, Pick 245: Josh Proctor, S (Ohio State)

Josh Proctor is one of my sleepers of the draft. I have him graded a few rounds ahead of this, and I would not be surprised if the Texans used their 5th round pick to select him. He is 6’2", 205 lbs, and runs a 4.5 second forty. Proctor is one of the highest-graded run stoppers in this safety class, according to PFF, and he comes downhill extremely well. His main issues are tight hips, and he seems to lose focus when playing off-man defense. With better mobility and discipline, Proctor has the potential to far exceed a seventh-round grade. For the value alone, Josh Proctor is a no-brainer for pick 245.

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