NFL Draft News & Analysis

Houston Texans 7-round mock draft: Texans use first three picks on defense

2WA13RM MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30: Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Javon Bullard (22) defends in the secondary during the Capital One Orange Bowl game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, December 30, 2023 at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Georgia safety Javon Bullard, Florida State interior defender Braden Fiske head to Houston: Bullard is a fiery competitor in the secondary who brings a desirable mentality, and Fiske is an effective one-gap penetrator from the interior.

• Offensive line kicks off the Texans' Day 3 picks: Pittsburgh tackle Matt Goncalves and Wisconsin center Tanor Bortolini provide depth for Houston's front five.

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As the 2024 NFL Draft nears, our seven-round team mock draft series continues with the Houston Texans.

Round 2, Pick 42: S Javon Bullard, Georgia

Bullard is a fiery competitor in the secondary who brings a mentality every NFL team will gravitate toward. He was a starter in the slot in 2022 and at safety in 2023. His best work came from the slot, where he played confidently in press coverage and showed off his willingness and effectiveness in run support. He did not look as comfortable at safety with so much space, and he took overaggressive angles when coming downhill. His in-your-face play style was much more aligned with slot responsibilities.

Round 2, Pick 59: DI Braden Fiske, Florida State

Fiske played five seasons at Western Michigan, including three as a full-time starter, before transferring to Florida State in 2023. While the Power Five level presented a new challenge, he grew more comfortable over time. Fiske wins with a quick first step and fast hands, allowing him to be an effective one-gap penetrator and making him tough to reach block. His shorter arms limit the depth of his pass-rush tool bag despite his good understanding of moves. His club-arm over/swim is potent. His weight limits his strength in run defense, but he holds up well pound-for-pound and possesses good eyes and anticipation for where the ball is going.

Round 3, Pick 86: CB Khyree Jackson, Oregon

Jackson's skill set is that of a press-man cornerback. He is tall and long but also a fluid and explosive athlete — a rare combination. His recovery speed, hip flexibility and footwork are much better than most players with his measurables. He consistently gets his head around to look to bat down or intercept passes. His slender build can hinder him in press coverage and when he is finishing tackles, but his missed tackle rate is quite low and his run-defense grade in 2023 was reliable. The biggest negative in Jackson’s game is his anticipation. Too often the better receivers he faced made cuts that he did not anticipate well enough to mirror.

Round 4, Pick 123: T Matt Goncalves, Pittsburgh

Goncalves started at both right and left tackle for Pittsburgh over the past three seasons. While he isn't the best athlete, his foot speed is quick, which allows him to redirect and mirror better than one would expect. His hands are fast, and he remains calm when hand-fighting and resetting. He loves to use a hand flash move to bait defenders into throwing their hands first so he can counter or knock them away. He can move people in the run game and has good coordination for second-level blocks. When dealing with bull rushes, he is lighter in the lower half. His vulnerability to inside moves might cause him to play guard in the NFL.

Round 4, Pick 127: C Tanor Bortolini, Wisconsin

Bortolini's athletic potential has always been evident. He earned starts at left guard, right guard and center at Wisconsin but projects best to center in the NFL. He can explode out of his stance to reach and wall off defenders, and be effective as a puller on man/gap run-blocking plays. He is a high-intelligence lineman with good hand technique and makes protection calls at the line. His strength is adequate for single blocks, but he isn't a people-mover and may struggle with bigger NFL defensive linemen. Bortolini's biggest weakness is a lack of length, which shows when he is trying to maintain blocks.

Round 6, Pick 188: RB Kimani Vidal, Troy

Vidal is a rocked-up, explosive athlete, but his vision for space needs to speed up for him to earn a rotational role in the NFL.

Round 6, Pick 189: EDGE Justin Eboigbe, Alabama

Eboigbe brings valuable size and length to the defensive line, and though he likely won't be a consistent pass-rush presence, his strength and size in the run game make for a high-floor, mid-round player who can be scheme versatile.

Round 7, Pick 238: TE Trey Knox, South Carolina

Knox posted a 93rd-percentile PFF Game Athleticism Score in 2023 and showcased a solid pair of hands, dropping just two of his 39 catchable passes last season.

Round 7, Pick 247: S Omar Brown, Nebraska

After impressing at Northern Iowa early in his career, Brown moved to Nebraska and closed out his college career with an impressive 2023 season. Good against the run and in coverage (he earned an 84.5 PFF grade last season), Brown is good enough to be a depth player with development potential.

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