Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential draft-day solutions.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Defensive Line
The Texans appear to have moved on from free agent DE Jared Crick following a disappointing season, creating a hole across from J.J. Watt. One in-house candidate for increased playing time is Christian Covington, though Covington's best usage is likely as a sub-package interior rusher. Houston needs a five-technique end capable of controlling the point of attack. Versatility to chip in at nose tackle would come in handy with NT Vince Wilfork's snaps likely to be reduced entering his age-35 campaign.
No. 2 Team Need: Tight End
The Texans have played musical chairs at tight end since Bill O'Brien took over, trying Garrett Graham, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin in the role with minimal success. Griffin flashed promise down the stretch last season, but is probably best suited for No. 2 duties. Graham was released, and Fiedorowicz may max out as a blocking tight end. Adding an impact tight end would reduce Houston's pass-catcher need as a whole, with only injury-riddled Cecil Shorts and slow-starting sophomore WR Jaelen Strong behind DeAndre Hopkins at wideout.
No. 3 Team Need: Safety
The Texans seem to believe they've uncovered a gem in 2014 seventh-round pick Dre Hal, a college cornerback who converted to safety last season and more than held his own as an 11-game starter. The immediate need is strong safety. Incumbent SS Quintin Demps remains unsigned in free agency, and in-house fallback options Eddie Pleasant and Kurtis Drummond fall short of starting caliber. Another Texans deficiency is on the offensive line, where competition is needed for LG Xavier Su'a-Filo and free agent pickup C Tony Bergstrom.
Norris' Mock Draft
Round 1 (22): DL Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech - Practically every mock has the Texans selecting a receiver or defensive lineman in the first round. Doubt anyone argues with me about choosing the latter. Obviously a receiver is possible. Butler would be an awesome fit, however. He can win anywhere from next to the guard to inside shading the center. He reminds me so much of Mo Wilkerson.
Round 2 (52): WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame - Many have Fuller mocked in round one. That would be unexpected. Personally, I love Fuller’s big play ability and the role he can fill for NFL teams. Clubs, however, will have plenty of parts to question. Size (and play size) to stay on the field in two receiver sets and drops (8 ¼” hands might play a factor). Personally, I believe he is worthy of a top 40 selection, but teams might not.
Round 3 (85): S Darian Thompson, Boise State - Thompson will be selected at some point on the second day. The second day safeties include Keanu Neal, T.J. Green, Vonn Bell, Justin Simmons and others. Thompson likely projects best as a split safety for teams.
Round 4 (119): TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State - Vannett was used all over the formation at Ohio State. He has the size (6’6”/257 lbs), the willingness to block and the receiving skills to potentially grow into an every-down tight end.
Round 5 (159): DT Vincent Valentine, Nebraska - A run-stuffing role player who offers depth along the defensive line, the position Evan mentioned as need No. 1.
Round 5 (166): G Fahn Cooper, Ole Miss - Played both tackle spots at Ole Miss last season. Could stick at tackle or move inside to guard, depending on the team.
Round 6 (195): WR KJ Maye, Minnesota - A slot receiver projection. A lesser version of Jamison Crowder.
Texans Current Offensive Depth Chart
QB: Brock Osweiler
RB: Lamar Miller
WR: DeAndre Hopkins
WR: Cecil Shorts
WR: Jaelen Strong
TE: Ryan Griffin
LT: Duane Brown
LG: Xavier Su'a-Filo
RG: Jeff Allen
RT: Derek Newton
Texans Current Defensive Depth Chart
LE: J.J. Watt
NT: Vince Wilfork
ILB: Brian Cushing
ILB: Benardrick McKinney
OLB: Jadeveon Clowney
OLB: Whitney Mercilus
LCB: Johnathan Joseph
RCB: Kareem Jackson
FS: Dre Hal
SS: Eddie Pleasant