NFL News & Analysis

Doug Kyed's Mailbag: 2022 NFL Draft offensive tackle selections, Houston Texans' season predictions and more

Santa Clara, California, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams are in midst of OTAs, minicamp is on the horizon, and fans have questions about the Carolina Panthers’ first-round pick, potential trade candidates and the Houston Texans‘ future.

Read on for answers.

@ActionMattD: What put Ikem over Evan in the battle for OT 1 in the 2022 NFL Draft?

It was close between North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal in the battle to be the first offensive tackle taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, and teams viewed them as similar talents. Nonetheless, from what I’ve gathered, it simply came down to personal preference. The Panthers saw Ekwonu as the better player with the traits they look for in an offensive tackle.

Ekwonu is a smart, hard-working leader. And the belief is that Ekwonu can be a transformative player with his traits and skillset.

PFF had Ekwonu as the higher-graded player last season.

Player Ikem Ekwonu Evan Neal
Offensive grade 91.6 85.8
Run block grade 93.8 80.4
Pass block grade 78.3 83.6
Pass block efficiency 98.3 98.6
Total pressures allowed 13 15

@BrownsBR1: Do you have in mind some veterans that still can be traded until the start of training camp?

PFF’s own Brad Spielberger broke this down well in his potential post-June 1 roster cuts and trade candidates piece this week. We’ll also get to one a little bit later in this column.

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones is one of the most interesting players who could be available in a trade. However, he will miss minicamp after undergoing shoulder surgery. A new team would have to take on his $13.64 million salary.

@1_popculture_1: Simple. Do the @HoustonTexans have a chance? Lol

I think it will be tough in 2022. The Texans currently have the lowest win total listed on 2022 over/under betting odds.

I do believe they could have a brighter future depending on how Davis Mills progresses this season. If he had stayed at Stanford for another year, it’s entirely possible that he could have been the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Texans had a nice draft, picking up cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., guard Kenyon Green, defensive back Jalen Pitre, wide receiver John Metchie, linebacker Christian Harris and running back Dameon Pierce. Those are six potential impact players taken in the first four rounds.

Nevertheless, the Texans should be picking high again in 2023, and they can decide then if they want to use that selection on an upgrade at quarterback or to continue building the roster around Mills, who graded out similarly to Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson as a rookie quarterback.

@TuYutes: Have Deebo, Swift, CMC & Javo Williams.  Can keep 2. I have a reason to keep & not to keep each one. Thoughts?

That’s incredibly difficult. Here’s how PFF’s own Nathan Jahnke has them ranked in his top 300 dynasty rankings

  1. Deebo Samuel
  2. Javonte Williams
  3. Christian McCaffrey

So, I’d follow Jahnke and go with Samuel and Williams.

@CheyenneSulli14: Are the patriots trading Wynn?

I personally haven’t heard anything on that front after checking around with some league sources, but nothing would surprise me with the New England Patriots

Isaiah Wynn is set to play on his fifth-year option for $10.413 million in 2022, and that salary is fully guaranteed. He hasn’t been at voluntary organized team activities, and it’s unclear why. He also hasn’t received a contract extension beyond the 2022 season and is currently set to be a free agent in the offseason.

The Patriots inserted Trent Brown in at left tackle last week at OTAs, which was notable. If New England planned to keep Brown at right tackle this season, then it could have put Justin Herron at left tackle – a position he’s played extensively in the NFL – while keeping Brown at right tackle to not upset the apple cart and build early chemistry between players who will be aligned next to one another during the season. Instead, they moved Brown to left tackle, where he played next to rookie guard Cole Strange, and inserted Herron at right tackle, next to guard Michael Onwenu.

So, maybe they’re in the beginning stages of preparing to be without Wynn, or maybe they just wanted to see what Brown looked like next to Strange. Brown was not present Tuesday at OTAs, and Herron stayed at right tackle with Yodny Cajuste manning the left tackle position. It was also interesting that Herron stayed at right tackle.

That being said, trading Wynn would be a daring move. He’s earned an 80.6 offensive grade at left tackle since being selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and he ranks 15th among left tackles in that span of time. It’s difficult to find average starting left tackles, but the Patriots do have another one on their roster in Brown.

Both Wynn and Brown have had some durability concerns over the course of their careers, though Wynn played a career-high 915 snaps in 2021.

The Patriots could clear $10.4 million from their cap if they did trade Wynn, but they’ve already replaced Shaq Mason with Onwenu and Ted Karras with Strange. Herron would be the top option to replace Wynn as a starter. It gets shallow quick with Cajuste, Yasir Durant, Arlington Hambright and rookie Andrew Stueber as the top reserve offensive tackles.

There isn’t a ton of precedent in New England plugging and playing offensive tackles, but it’s worth noting that Duane Brown, Eric Fisher, Daryl Williams and Riley Reiff are still available in free agency. If there’s a team interested in Wynn, who won’t fit every scheme as a 6-foot-2 left tackle, then the Patriots could save money by trading him and signing a veteran free agent to fill in on the right side.

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