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Houston Texans may be targeting Ahmad Gardner with No. 3 pick

Andrew Buller-Russ

One could argue the Houston Texans could add talent at just about any position aside from left tackle. With the 2022 NFL Draft just a few weeks away, the Texans have several options with the third overall pick. Recent comments by coach Lovie Smith suggest a cornerback could be in play, could Ahmad Gardner be the top player on their board?

Lovie Smith’s comments suggest Texans are CB hungry

Many have thought the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions may look to improve their pass-rush effort with the top two picks in the draft, just before the Texans get on the clock. This may work out just fine in the grand scheme if coach Smith’s comments are to be taken seriously.

“Well, we’re looking at the roster right now and you see who we have there and you also see our play at the cornerback position,” Smith said. “Our play at the cornerback position last year was not good enough. It’s as simple as that. If we brought somebody back, we have faith in them. We think they can fit into the mix some kind of way. But that’s a position we’ll continue to look to improve.

“We can’t play the type of football that we want to play until we get better at the cornerback position, I will say that.”

Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith on team’s cornerback needs (H/t to Audacy.com)

Based on those quotes, Smith is laying out the possibility of a cornerback being their first draft pick. If that’s the case, Cincinnati’s Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner just might be their top choice. A player who many regard as the top cornerback in the incoming prospect pool, Gardner has the size, speed, strength, and athleticism to lock down top receivers at the next level.

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There’s also LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr., who recently got his chance to show teams he’s healthy once again and is a likely top-10 pick as well. Whether it’s Gardner, or Stingley, or someone else, expect the Texans to continue addressing their needs in the secondary before the year begins.

Of course, this could be their latest attempt at a smokescreen as well, or more so just a general comment, not necessarily indicating the front office is ready to go all-in on a top corner. It’s a deep draft class, they can likely still find a boundary starter later on, whether that’s at pick No. 13, or by using the three other top-100 selections this year. There will be plenty of chances to improve at the position throughout the three-day player selection process.

The Texans could be gauging a trade down, and are also looking at a few other positions with their top choice. As mentioned at the top, they have several roster needs to address before the depth chart can be taken seriously. With the top of the draft class being defensive-heavy, chances are the Texans are looking at adding talent to their defense first.

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Maybe Smith’s comments are an attempt at creating further leverage, trying to show teams they are ready to make the pick at No. 3, which could prompt a stronger trade offer if that’s something the Texans would prefer. We’ll find out soon enough.

Related: 3 Houston Texans trade scenarios during 2022 NFL Draft