Offseason trade demands and ongoing legal issues make Deshaun Watson's future with the Houston Texans anything but certain. If Houston is picking first in the 2022 NFL Draft, the organization could use this opportunity to draft a quarterback.
Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux will top my initial 2022 big board, but Howard is my QB1 a little less than a year out and a potential top-five pick. Like Watson, Howell has the ability to elevate the play of those around him and he's been one of the best deep passers in college football since his freshman season.
Certainly if the Houston Texans indeed select first-overall in the 2022 NFL draft, there is a chance that the quarterback situation -- or more specifically the Deshaun Watson legal situation -- necessitates that Nick Caserio address the quarterback position.
Assuming that is not the case, and the involved parties are all entitled to their day in court, then Caserio likely goes in a different direction. Things can certainly change, but Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux looks like the real deal with his technical skills and explosiveness off the edge.
The Oklahoma quarterback factory continues to churn. Rattler earned a scintillating 92.5 passing grade in his first season as the starter last year, and he is a plus athlete for the position. The biggest question will be size for the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder.
At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Thibodeaux is an extraordinary pass-rusher off the edge. Over 21 career games, he has 12 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss, and the 2019 No. 1 recruit generated pressure on 13.5% of his pass-rush snaps over the past two seasons, the 18th-best rate in the country. Following J.J. Watt's exit, the Texans could use a player with Thibodeaux's high-end traits to jump-start their defense in their rebuild.
It appears the Texans are already preparing for life after Deshaun Watson, considering their first pick of the 2021 draft was Stanford quarterback Davis Mills in the third round. Mills won't keep them from drafting a quarterback here if Watson gets traded. Two of Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley's last three quarterbacks went No. 1 overall. Rattler is a Heisman favorite headed into next season.
The future in Houston for Deshaun Watson is uncertain, which could put the Texans in the quarterback market next offseason, especially if they own the No. 1 pick. In his first season as a starter last year, Rattler made plenty of mistakes, but he got better as the campaign progressed. He should continue that development under coach Lincoln Riley.
The only reason a QB doesn't go here is because the Texans used their first pick in the 2021 draft -- a third-rounder -- on quarterback Davis Mills. Instead they get Thibodeaux, who has been dominant in his first two seasons at Oregon.
The Deshaun Watson saga is still technically unresolved, but the Texans have already made plenty of moves to suggest he is in trouble, notably signing Tyrod Taylor and drafting Davis Mills in the third-round of 2021. Taylor is not a long-term option, and Mills was not a particularly good prospect. Rattler's combination of arm talent, mobility, and creativity gives him the best chance to rise as the best QB in the class, assuming he can rein himself in just a little bit.