Houston Texans Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami – Round 5
This is a bit of a stretch, but I’m not confident either Davis Mills or Nico Collins will emerge as a solid starter. Of Houston’s five selections, I think Jordan has the best shot at becoming a solid starter. He was an excellent value in the fifth round, and he easily could have gone a round or two higher. The Texans have had issues at tight end for years, but Jordan might be able to solve that problem for them.

As a receiver, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Jordan is a smooth route-runner with the quickness to separate. He glides through the secondary and is able to use athleticism and speed to get open for his quarterback. Jordan possesses enough agility and burst to separate from defenders coming out of his breaks. Along with good route-running, Jordan has reliable hands, showing the ability to control the ball with his hands or using the body. Jordan is not afraid of contact, demonstrating concentration and toughness, and he makes sure to secure catches despite knowing a hard hit is soon to follow. He is a quality underneath receiver with enough speed and size to be a valuable weapon down the seam.

Jordan has a compact build that allows him to run through tackles after the catch, and he is tough for defensive backs to get to the ground. Jordan runs the ball aggressively and will pick up yards after contact and possesses the athleticism to leap over tacklers as well.

As a blocker, Jordan has room for improvement for the NFL. He should add strength because he can struggle to sustain blocks. Jordan shows a willingness to block, but he lacks size for taking on NFL edge defenders. The lack of blocking size and ability might lead to him being more of rotational player who is a F – movement – tight end rather than a three-down starter. While Jordan will never be an impactful blocker, he should be able to improve enough to contribute somewhat in the ground game and help protect his quarterback.

The Texans have a wide-open depth chart at tight end. Former third-round picks Jordan Aikens (2018) and Kahale Warring (2019) have been disappointments thus far. Brevin Jordan could easily beat them out once he gets some time adjusting to the NFL. Whether the Texans are starting Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor, Davis Mills or Ryan Finley, Jordan could provide a better and more consistent receiving option at tight end. It would not be surprising if Jordan becomes a solid starter for Houston before too long.

2020: Ross Blacklock, DT
2019: Max Scharping, OT
2018: Martinas Rankin, OT
2017: Zach Cunningham, LB
2016: Nick Martin, C
2015: Bernardrick McKinney, LB
2014: Louis Nix, DT
2013: DeAndre Hopkins, WR

Most Likely To Bust

Davis Mills, QB, Stanford – Round 3
Players with third-round grades are dubbed as “backup to starter” caliber prospects by many teams when they arrange their draft boards. In other words, NFL team expect those players to serve as backups for a year or two before eventually emerging as starters. Hence, the expectations are that Mills should become a starter. The Texans made Mills their first selection of the 2021 NFL Draft, taking him with the 67th-overall pick. High in the third round, there were other players available who could have been immediate starting competition. That suggests general manager Nick Cesario must be a real believer in Mills to take him with his first draft pick for Houston.

There are some issues with projecting Mills as a starter and translating to the NFL. He has a quality skill set with some pocket-passing ability, but he only started 11 games in college and enters the NFL extremely raw. He also did not produce all that well in his college starts and did not dominate weak competition. Mills displayed issues with ball placement, field vision, and decision-making. He has a lot of areas for improvement entering the next level.

On top of his developmental issues, Mills could have a hard time seeing the field. It will be difficult for the Texans to trade Deshaun Watson given his off-the-field controversy, and many team staffers believe eventually Watson will return to the field rather miss out on a full year of his contract. Obviously, Mills won’t play over Watson, and Mills probably won’t beat out Taylor or Ryan Finley. It would not surprise me at all if Mills tops out as just a backup and ends up being a wasted high third-round pick for the Texans.

2020: Charlie Heck, OT
2019: Lonnie Johnson, CB
2018: Keke Coutee, WR
2017: Julie’n Davenport, OT
2016: Braxton Miller, WR
2015: Jaelen Strong, WR
2014: Xavier Su’a-Filo, G
2013: Sam Montgomery, DE

Potential Boom Pick

The Texans were without first- or second-round picks thanks to the horrible trade that Bill O’Brien made for Laremy Tunsil. Obviously, they did not think one of those first-round picks would have been a top-three pick in the 2021 NFL Draft or they never would have done that deal. But O’Brien’s terrible roster mismanagement cost Houston core players like DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney, leading to losing seasons that squandered Deshaun Watson playing at an elite level and good seasons with J.J. Watt.

Under former general manager Rick Smith, Houston fielded one of the best scouting departments in the NFL and built an excellent, talented roster. A lot of the franchise’s great scouts, however, were run out of the organization after O’Brien forced Smith out. New general manager Nick Cesario has a massive rebuilding project on his hands.

2020: Jon Greenard, DE
2019: Tytus Howard, OT
2018: Justin Reid, S
2017: Deshaun Watson, QB
2016: Will Fuller, WR
2015: Kevin Johnson, CB
2014: Jadeveon Clowney, DE
2013: D.J. Swearinger, S

Future Depth Player

Nico Collins, WR, Michigan – Round 3
Under Bill O’Brien, Houston’s wide receiver position was horribly mismanaged, starting with the notorious DeAndre Hopkins trade. The Texans were ripped off by giving away a potential Hall of Fame receiver in his prime for a second-round pick and a broken-down running back in return. O’Brien then wasted a second-round pick on trading for journeyman veteran Brandin Cooks and signed a washed-up Randall Cobb in free agency. Cesario then allowed Will Fuller to leave in free agency, so Houston has a serious lack of talent at the position.

Collins (6-4, 215) is a big-bodied wideout with good hands, but he could have issues with separating from NFL cornerbacks. Hence, he could top out as a third or fourth receiver who is a solid backup contributor rather than a starting-caliber player.

2020: Isaiah Coulter, WR
2019: Kahale Warring, TE
2018: Jordan Aikens, TE
2017: Carlos Watkins, DT
2016: Tyler Ervin, RB
2015: Reshard Cliet, LB
2014: Andre Hal, S
2013: David Quessenberry, OL

Walt’s 2021 NFL Draft Grades:

67. Davis Mills, QB, Stanford – C- Grade
Imagine going from Deshaun Watson to Davis Mills. Yuck. Davis Mills is as mediocre as they come in regard to arm strength and accuracy, and he lacks experience. He’s not ready to play right away, so the Texans will have to start Tyrod Taylor in 2021. There’s legitimate 0-17 potential for the Texans, so they should’ve just waited for a quarterback atop the 2022 NFL Draft (go here for my 2022 NFL Mock Draft.)

89. Nico Collins, WR, Michigan – F Grade
The Texans are not good at this putting talent together to form a team thing. I didn’t have Nico Collins in the final version of my mock draft, though I definitely considered him in the late rounds. Still, I guess it would make sense for the Texans to trade up for a pedestrian receiver to catch passes from their pedestrian quarterback.

147. Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami – A+ Grade
I can’t believe the Texans made a great pick! Brevin Jordan is someone I consistently slotted in the second or third round, so this is tremendous value. Jordan isn’t the best athlete, but he’ll likely be a better player than Jordan Akins, who can’t stop dropping passes.

170. Garrett Wallow, LB, TCU – B+ Grade
Another good pick for the Texans! What is happening? Garrett Wallow is an athletic, albeit undersized linebacker. The upside is there, however, and I had him in the fourth round, so I like this value.

195. Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona – C- Grade
The fun is over. The Texans made some great picks earlier, but that has changed. I never once considered mocking Roy Lopez anywhere, so I don’t know what this is all about. However, we’re in the sixth round, so the “D” and “F” grades are down unless there’s a nonsensical trade involved.

2021 NFL Draft Team Grade: F. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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