Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans: The Race for the No. 1 Overall Pick in 2022 Draft

Nick Caserio's plan for rebuilding the Texans could include the number one pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Nick Caserio's plan for rebuilding the Texans could include the number one pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
It's hard to believe that less than two years ago, the Texans held a 24-0 lead in Kansas City over the Chiefs in a playoff game, and were three quarters of football away from their first AFC title game in team history. We all know how that wound up, but even the most dark-minded pessimist could never imagine that game being a gateway to where we are now.

The Houston Texans, by seemingly every measurement other than won-loss record (and under that metric, it's only a half game lead on Detroit), are the worst team in the NFL. They are the least talented team, the most poorly coached team, and they are the butt of any number of "fall from grace" jokes around the league, assuming people care enough about them to joke about them.

In 2020, the question before the season was "Can the Texans make a deeper playoff run than 2019?" In 2021, the question halfway through the season is "What are the chances the Texans land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft?" Sad, huh?

Even more sad is the fact that, unlike the last few years, where names like Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, and Trevor Lawrence were available at the top of the draft, there doesn't appear to be a quarterback worth tanking the season for. It's 2006 and 2014 all over again, when the Texans had no QB options in the draft, so they had to take Mario Williams and Jadeveon Clowney instead.


Still, I suppose it's better to HAVE the No. 1 overall pick than NOT have it, so what are the chances the Texans land the top pick for the fourth time in franchise history? Pretty decent, actually. I would be shocked if the team with the first pick had more than three wins, so right now, with eight weeks to go, here are the only four teams remaining with fewer than three wins, with their respective remaining schedules, along with commentary on each:

NEW YORK JETS, 2-7

WEEK 11 vs MIA
WEEK 12 at HOU
WEEK 13 vs PHI
WEEK 14 vs NOLA
WEEK 15 at MIA
WEEK 16 vs JAC
WEEK 17 vs TB
WEEK 18 at BUF

This will be our first chance to point out that the Jets, Jaguars, and Texans basically play a round robin with one another between now and the end of the season. Each play one home game and one road game in that mix of three games. The Jets have no reason to organizationally tank any games, as they have their QB of the future in rookie Zach Wilson. The interesting thing about the Jets schedule is the two game set with the Dolphins, who are 3-7 on the season, and if swept by the Jets, would have an outside shot at the No. 1 overall pick.


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, 2-7

WEEK 11 vs SF
WEEK 12 vs ATL
WEEK 13 at LAR
WEEK 14 at TEN
WEEK 15 vs HOU
WEEK 16 at NYJ
WEEK 17 at NE
WEEK 18 vs IND

The Jags are in a similar spot to the Jets, with their QB of the future even more entrenched with Lawrence viewed as the man for the next decade. The Jags have a strange patch of schedule these next three weeks, with three out of conference opponents, followed by two division games. They play the Texans and Jets in back to back weeks in December. Of the teams listed here, the Jags have, by far, the most impressive recent win, a 9-6 slugfest against the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago. Of these four teams, I'd be most surprised if the Jags ended up picking first.

HOUSTON TEXANS, 1-8

WEEK 11 at TEN
WEEK 12 vs NYJ
WEEK 13 vs IND
WEEK 14 vs SEA
WEEK 15 at JAC
WEEK 16 vs LAC
WEEK 17 at SF
WEEK 18 vs TEN

On paper, the Texans have one of the easier schedules the rest of the way, as the level of defenses they are going up against pales in comparison to their first half slate. If the season ended today, the Titans and Chargers would be the only playoff teams on their schedule the rest of the way, and the Chargers are the 7th seed in the AFC right now. The Texans are fully capable of getting blown out by anybody, and they haven't scored a touchdown on the road since September, so it's not hard to envision them closing the deal on the first overall pick. Except....

DETROIT LIONS, 0-8-1

WEEK 11 at CLV
WEEK 12 vs CHI
WEEK 13 vs MIN
WEEK 14 at DEN
WEEK 15 vs ARZ
WEEK 16 at ATL
WEEK 17 at SEA
WEEK 18 vs GB

.... the Lions are a half game back of the Texans, and have a schedule that is at least slightly more daunting in quarterbacks and brand names. The Vikings, Falcons, and Seahawks are all sub .500, but all have Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks, when healthy.

For what it's worth, here is Football Outsiders forecast of the percentage chance of each team landing the No. 1 pick (top five pick in parentheses):

DET, 50.5% (95.4%)
HOU, 29.2% (90.6%)
NYJ, 11.6% (77.3%)
JAX, 5.6% (65.2%)

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