The Houston Texans’ magical season is over, so it’s time to load up for a playoff run in 2024. Who does Mel Kiper have Nick Caserio adding in his latest NFL mock draft?

The Houston Texans ran into a simple problem in the AFC Divisional Round. The Baltimore Ravens were simply too talented. Blowing out the visiting Texans 34-10, the Ravens sent a stern reminder that however magical the 2023 season was, improvements must be made.

Houston’s ascension was piloted by rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, and his rookie contract has provided the ammo to leap into contention. They’ll be active in free agency – although head coach DeMeco Ryans stressed it’ll be about the right fits, not just a spending spree – and have the draft capital to improve.

How they allocate those resources will be telling in how the Texans set Stroud up for success in his second season.

“Newton is the best interior pass-rusher in this class,” Kiper wrote. “He had 16.5 sacks in three seasons for the Fighting Illini. He improved his pressure rate in every season, showing off an impressive combination of strength and natural talent. He also has versatility, as three of his sacks were from when he lined up as the nose tackle.”

It’s worth noting that Houston is picking 23rd due to the Deshaun Watson trade with the Cleveland Browns. Their original pick, 27th overall, went to the Arizona Cardinals in a deal that gave the Texans the third pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

Anderson and Newton would be two key components to a pass rush that improved mightily as the season progressed. Although free agency may take a toll on the unit – especially if veteran edge rusher Jonathan Greenard is on the move – opportunity is ripe in H-Town.

The pass-rush synergy of a rising star like Anderson, a talent like Newton, and another formidable edge (Greenard was quick to state his love for the organization), is simply hard to contain. There’s only so much extra protection teams can provide.

Newton is approaching 300 pounds and, as Kiper implied, has the skills and athleticism to play multiple tackle spots.

His impact up front would only aid a young secondary that will look to further gel in 2024. It may not be as flashy as a blazing option out wide or the class’ top running back, but Newton would have a tangible impact on this defense’s ceiling.

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