The 2020 NFL Draft will begin Thursday night, but the Houston Texans have an extra day to do their due diligence before making a selection. After trading Jadeveon Clowney last August, the Texans will enter the draft with seven selections starting with the 40th pick midway through the second round.
Houston does not have a first-round pick, but there are several players the Texans can select who can fill multiple voids on the team. The secondary can always use an upgrade, but an outline linebacker maybe the main concern for Bill O’Brien — who stated he expects some new additions to their defensive line core within the first three selections.
In what could be one of the deepest draft classes in NFL history, here are a few players who could make sense for Houston this season.
Round 2 (No. 40 overall): Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Headlined by Ohio State‘s Chase Young, the pass rushers in this year’s class may be the second deepest position in the draft. Five linebackers are projected to go within the first two rounds, including Terrell Lewis, who would be a perfect fit for the Texans.
In 2019, Lewis received Second-Team All-SEC honors after recording 31 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 16 quarterback pressures and six sacks across 11 games. His style of play has a subtle mix of size and speed, which can make Lewis the ideal player who can finally fill in the glaring hole left by Clowney’s departure.
He will not come in and be a franchise-changing player overnight, but the right amount of time to develop under the stewardship of defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, Lewis should become a starter by the end of the 2020 season. His injury history causes some concerns — especially after an ACL tear in 2018 — but Lewis’ ceiling is too high for the Texans not to draft if given the opportunity with the 40th pick.
Round 3 (No. 90 overall): Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
With Bradley Roby, Lonnie Johnson Jr and Vernon Hargeaves III, the Texans have a solid secondary heading into the 2020 season, but could still use some help upgrading their core through the draft — enter Louisiana Tech cornerback, Amik Robertson.
Despite his lack of size (5’8), Robertson is one of the best nickelbacks in this year’s class and could be one of the greatest steals of 2020. Last season for the Bulldogs, he started all 13 games and received Second-Team Associated Press All-American accolades with 60 tackles, eight for loss and a nation-best 16 pass breakups.
In 2019, he continued to showcase his niche for the ball after he recorded five picks on the season. Robertson finished his collegiate career at Tech with 14 interceptions — where he converted three into a pick-six.
Round 4 (No. 111 overall): Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama
The Texans will most likely double-dip in this year’s draft to find an edge rusher, and Nick Saban’s football program at Alabama may have the answers. In addition to selecting Terrell Lewis, the Texans should also target Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings should he be available by the time Houston make their selection in the fourth round.
He finished his career at Alabama as a first-team All-SEC honoree (2019), with 12 tackles and eight sacks. Jennings also posted 83 total stops, intercepted a pass and broke up five others in 13 starts. Not only does Houston need to find a pass rusher who can fill the void left by Clowney’s departure, but another who can replace J.J. Watt as the future Hall of Famer enters the twilight of his career.
Should Houston pair Jennings with another defensive lineman, the Texans may be in a position to recapture the glory days of Clowney and Watt.
Round 5 (No. 171 overall): Darrion Daniels, NT, Nebraska
After losing D.J. Reader to the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, the Texans are in need of a big man in the middle of the defense in 2020. With defense a top priority for Houston entering the draft, it will be a tremendous surprise if the Texans leave the draft without addressing the issue.
Darrion Daniels, NT from Nebraska, could be a great interior for the Texans and one who could push for a starting role over the likes of Brandon Dunn. During the 2019 season, Daniels recorded 34 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception in 11 games for the Cornhuskers.
Round 7 (No. 240 overall): DeeJay Dallas, RB, Miami
The deal to move DeAndre Hopkins brought back All-Pro running back David Johnson. Bill O’Brien appears to be excited with the addition of Johnson, but the sixth-year veteran has not looked the same since 2016. With so much uncertainty surrounding Johnson, the Texans should select running back DeeJay Dallas from Miami.
Dallas is the prototypical versatile halfback O’Brien loves to have in his system. He is a former wideout turned running back who carries the same skill sets similar to Johnson. During his final season at Miami, Dallas rushed for 693 yards on 115 attempts, to go along with 140 receiving yards, two touchdowns on 14 catches.
Round 7 (No. 248 overall): Alohi Gilman, S, Notre Dame
Adding to their secondary core, the Texans should look to select Alohi Gilman if he falls to them in the seventh round. Not a high profile player, Gilman has the potential to turn into a reliable starting safety once he receives consistent minutes following his rookie season.
During the 2019 college football season, Gilman started all 13 games finishing fourth on the team with 74 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, one sack, three forced fumbles, one interception, and one fumble recovery. May not receive much playing time during the 2020 season, but will be a good insurance policy should Houston’s secondary start to run thin due to injuries.
Round 7 (No. 250 overall): Tommy Kraemer, OT, Notre Dame
Last year, the Texans stuck goal in their attempt to improve their offensive line. They drafted Tytus Howard and Max Scharping during the 2019 NFL Draft and acquired Laremy Tunsil in a trade with Miami. As they have seen some major improvements, the right guard is the Texans’ weakest position on their offensive line.
With their last pick, the Texans will try to address their struggles by selecting Tommy Kraemer from Notre Dame. Standing 6’6 weighing 319 pounds, Kraemer’s size will make it tough for pass rushers to move around. This is a player that would possibly not see the field in next season, but Kraemer can develop into a solid piece.
As an AFCA Second Team All-American, Kraemer did not allow a sack, while conceding just one QB hit and three hurries before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Michigan.
(Photo Credit: Vasha Hunt: USA Today Sports)
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