By ELWYN HENDERSON
The 2022 NFL Draft officially got underway Thursday afternoon at the NFL Draft Theater in just behind the High Roller in Las Vegas. For the just over 30 athletes who heard their names called in the First Round of the 3-day, 7 round affair, it was a moment that will change their lives forever. As one top 5 pick said in his press event after being selected, the biggest excitement for him was that he would no longer be playing football for free. The early First Rounder’s will get multi-million dollar contracts with huge signing bonuses that will be their first big pay day after giving it everything they had from junior high school days through the end of their college careers.
We will highlight the first day selections of the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys since most of the NFL interest in East Texas centers around those two teams.
Thanks to their horrific season in 2021, the Texans held the #3 overall pick in the first round and also had the #15 pick.
For new Head Coach Lovie Smith of Big Sandy, who has always been a defense-minded coach, it was apparent that the defense of the Texans needed a LOT of help. Everyone following the team felt they would use the #3 pick for defense and that is exactly what they did.
They selected Cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. out of LSU with the pick. Stingley had arguably the best season of all the corners that were eligible to be drafted this year. The down side is that he has had injuries during the last two seasons at LSU. He is 20 years old and definitely is an athlete who can be a positive influence on the Houston defense. He will most definitely start if he remains healthy and will improve the defensive play of the team. He will be fun to watch.
Stingley is the grandson of former New England Patriot Darryl Stingley who was paralyzed by a legal brutal hit by the Raiders Jack Tatum in a preseason game in the late 70’s.
With the #15 pick Houston chose to try to improve on the offensive side of the ball and selected Offensive Lineman Kenyon Green from Texas A&M. He played every position across the offensive line except for center during his A&M years. He is considered to be best at the guard position, but he has proven he is versatile enough to play wherever the Texans need him on the line.
He did have problems with offensive holding calls in college, so some consider that he was taken higher in the round than his talent supported, but he should fit in well in Houston.
As for the Cowboys, since they won the NFC East in 2021, they held the #24 pick in the First Round. They selected Offensive Lineman Tyler Smith from Tulsa. There is no doubt the Cowboys needed a solid lineman since they have lost La’el Collins and Connor Williams and Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are over 30 and aging quickly. Smith just turned 21 earlier this month. He has had some technical issues but is considered to have plenty of upside. He has a lot of power, but was not ranked nearly as high as the #24 athlete in the Draft, so the Cowboys are already taking a lot of heat and a lot of fans are upset at the decision the team made.
Both teams will have additional picks on Friday and Saturday. We will have a final story on the additional selections by the teams at the end of the week.