NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Houston Texans
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The Houston Texans were one of the best stories from the 2023 NFL season. After being arguably the worst team in the league last year, first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans came in and brought a different energy while the front office hit the 2023 NFL Draft out of the park with the selections of C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson Jr. and Tank Dell. That directly led to Houston winning the AFC South, and the Texans even upset the Cleveland Browns in Super Wild Card Weekend. This past season was an incredible start for the new-look Texans, but there's no time to celebrate. Here comes the offseason.

Free agency is important, but the draft is where real contenders are built. What should the Texans be focused on in the 2024 NFL Draft? That's what we're here to explore. 

Texans 2024 draft picks

(Per Tankathon)

RoundOverall pick


23 (from Cleveland)




86 (from Philadelphia)

4123 (from Cleveland)
7235 (from New Orleans)
7246 (from Kansas City)

Latest CBS Sports mock drafts


Ryan Wilson

EDGE Laiatu Latu (No. 27 overall)


Chris Trapasso

EDGE Bralen Trice


Josh Edwards

DL Jer'Zhan Newton


Shore up the secondary

We are going to be talking about the defensive side of the ball mostly, and that's something Ryans specializes with. While this unit made incredible strides relative to the 2022 campaign, there's room for improvement. One area is the secondary, which ranked in the bottom 10 in passing yards surrendered per game. 

Houston actually finished the regular season ranked No. 29 in yards per attempt allowed (7.7), and allowed the most passing yards and second-most yards per attempt vs. play action. Derek Stingley Jr. had a nice year, but he needs help in the secondary. There's going to be turnover on the back end with Steven Nelson, Eric Murray, Kareem Jackson, Tavierre Thomas, Adrian Amos and others looking for new deals.

The Texans don't HAVE to take a cornerback/safety in the first round. You'll note above that none of our three CBS Sports NFL Draft experts did in their mock drafts. But, it's absolutely a position of need, and Houston's scouts should be all over defensive backs in the coming months.

First Team All-American Kool-Aid McKinstry out of Alabama could be a player Houston considers if he falls a bit in the first round. Then there's Georgia's Kamari Lassiter, who is a willing participant in run support. There's plenty of other DB gems to be found in the middle rounds. Khyree Jackson out of Oregon is someone I'm watching. 

Boost the defensive front

The Texans could add at pass rusher, defensive tackle and linebacker in the draft, especially when you consider their looming free agents. Sheldon Rankins, Derek Barnett, Jerry Hughes and Jonathan Greenard are a few players from the defensive front that were on expiring deals. With where Houston is selecting in the first round, the defensive line is the position our experts are targeting. 

The Texans run defense had an incredible turnaround in 2023, allowing a sixth-best 96.6 rushing yards per game after allowing a league-worst 170.2 rushing yards per game last year. They were certainly not some glaring weakness, but man, can you imagine if Houston hits on another pass rusher to place opposite of Anderson? Game changer. 

"The front, again, is everything for me, and we'll invest a ton of resources into the front," Ryans said this week. "If you want to play good defense, then your front has to be elite. And that's where I envision us playing elite defensive football. We have to get better there and we get better -- you have to invest the resources there up front. So that's what we'll do, and that's where our focus is heading into the offseason is to make sure our front gives us an opportunity to win some games." 


We can't totally ignore the offensive side of the ball. I don't expect Houston to go offense in the first round, but targeting a mid-round perimeter threat that can work opposite of Nico Collins and alongside Dell would be great. UNC's Devontez Walker is someone I'm watching through this process. It's tough to pinpoint where he could go in the draft, but he's a deep threat with good size and a nice catch radius. 

I want to talk about the running back position, because while RBs aren't valued as highly as they may have been in past years, these players open up the offense. Not only by picking up chunk plays on the ground, but working in the passing game as well. I wonder how Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions offensive attack would have been different in 2023 if it were not for David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs

Devin Singletary had some great games this season, but he's a free agent. Houston targeting a running back in the middle rounds could really help Stroud and the offense at large. Will Shipley out of Clemson is a gamer that could fall due to injury concerns, Jaylen Wright from Tennessee was a pillar of the Vols' offense and then Blake Corum starred in Michigan's National Championship run. Houston snagging a starting running back would be huge.  

"The running game will be significant for us to improve upon," Ryans told reporters Monday, per SportsTalk790. "We weren't able to do that (sustain the run game) against the Ravens." 

Bonus: Offensive line

The offensive line is a topic of conversation right now because of how it performed vs. Baltimore, but this unit was banged-up all year. Picking up a piece in the draft is expected, but I'm not pounding the table for the Texans to shift their draft strategy to the offensive line when important pieces are still under contract. Be excited about what Juice Scruggs and Jarrett Patterson are capable of moving forward. Kenyon Green too.