INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 19: Derek Stingley Jr. #24 of the Houston Texans stretches prior to kickoff of a preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on August 19, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Top Three Rookies
The Texans are an intriguing team this season. They’re coming off of a 4-13 2021 season, heading into 2022 with some optimism in the midst of skepticism, and trying to prove themselves worthy of being taken seriously. Since the final 53-man roster is composed of a good bit of youth, here are three rookies to watch out for:
Dameon Pierce (107th pick overall): The talk of much speculation during preseason after unofficial depth charts were released, Pierce is now the confirmed RB1 for the Texans. He’s a fourth-round pick that fits the system and style this team is looking for. A strong, north/south runner who hits the hole with intent and keep the chains moving is just what the doctor ordered. I project an eight to 10 touchdown season with over 1,000 yards rushing from the former Florida Gator. This team will look to establish the run to set up the pass while giving the defense a rest by instituting a ball control mentality. Pierce will be the figurehead of this movement.
Jalen Pitre (37th pick overall): The Texans haven’t had a safety that provides this much excitement with his playmaking potential ever. Sure, guys like Glover Quinn, Andre Hall, and Kareem Jackson were pretty good, but Pitre has a chance to best them all. His best play comes around the line of scrimmage as a pseudo linebacker. He has shown flashes of coverage ability, primarily as a floater who can freestyle hover where he feels he’s needed. Opposing QBs will have to locate him pre-snap.
Kenyon Green (15th pick overall): If Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce is going to have success this year, a large part of it will be due to Green’s play as a “road-grading” blocker. Some may have been surprised of his selection so early in the draft. Number 15 overall is usually a playmaker of some sort. Green is just that because of the way he opens holes, seals defenders, and finishes plays. In preseason and practice he has kept blocking into the second level and beyond to keep Pierce running. Guards like him are a running back’s best friend, and quarterbacks like them too. Why? Because the play action pass windows are wide open thanks to the defense being sucked in due to his blocking.
Derek Stingley Jr. (3rd pick overall): The obvious choice with Houston’s first overall pick considering their pass defense woes last season. Stingley Jr. has all of the physical attributes and non-tangibles that project him to be an elite, shut down corner in the NFL. He has excellent size in his 6-foot frame but speed as well to match, checking in with a 4.44 second 40-yard dash time. This should make him quick enough to stick with the sideline burning “x” receivers as well as the oversized “jump ball” receivers who are becoming so prevalent in red zone success lately. The Texans needed to make a splash with their first overall pick to create some excitement with a bonafide playmaker with regional ties, and they achieved exactly that with the former Tiger from Baton Rouge.