If the Texans move Laremy Tunsil this offseason, this pick could be used on their preferred offensive tackle. That said, only four teams had fewer sacks than Houston (32) in 2021, and their only player under contract for '22 with three-plus sacks last season is Jonathan Greenard. Thibodeaux showed off his combination of speed (4.58 40-yard dash) and strength (27 bench-press reps) at the combine and along with Greenard, he would give the Texans a talented young pass-rushing duo.
The Texans will be the domino that really starts this draft. There isn't an area of the team it can't afford to improve, making it difficult to know what the Texans are going to do. I've had Kayvon Thibodeaux here in previous mocks, but with Neal still on the board, I wouldn't be surprised if this is where Houston goes. Neal is a fantastic prospect who could solve one of Houston's many problems for the next decade.
Thankfully for the Texans, every position is one of need, so it'll be hard to mess this up (even for them). There's been only one safety chosen with a top-five pick since 1992 (Sean Taylor in 2004). Hamilton is a hybrid playmaker who combines the versatility of Isaiah Simmons with instincts that are reminiscent of Hall of Famer Ed Reed. Those who pick nits with his 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the combine are digging really deep for criticism.
While Hutchinson is the most well-rounded pass rusher, I think Hamilton is the best overall player. And for a team like the Texans, who are essentially a blank slate as an organization, now is not the time to get bogged down in the details of "positional value." This is a prime #DraftGoodPlayers spot--and for my money, you won't find one better overall than Hamilton.
Houston allowed 44 sacks last season (ninth most), and its 53.8% pass block win rate was 27th in the NFL. If the Texans want to truly evaluate Davis Mills' long-term potential, they have to keep him upright -- and defenders would have a real difficult time getting to him through the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Ekwonu. Laremy Tunsil has two years left on his contract, but Ekwonu is versatile and can play other positions along the line before eventually taking over the left tackle spot. He plays with power and is a pancake machine, but he also has the quicks to ride speed rushers past the pocket.
Houston has a number of needs this off-season. One of which is their pass rush. As evaluators dive into Aidan Hutchinson, George Karlfatis, Jermaine Johnson and David Ojabo, Kayvon Thibodeaux seems to be sliding. Once viewed as a surefire top five selection, that seems in doubt. Thibodeaux did his best to change the narrative starting at the Combine with his bench press numbers, and I still believe that by the time the draft rolls around, he is going to be at the top of the board once more.
He checks many of the boxes teams are looking for in a top-flight edge rusher, and the Texans find a potential cornerstone piece to their defensive front.