NFL rookies are just over two months away from playing their first snap of professional football, but early predictions of top performers are already out.
NFL.com released an early projection of the 2022 All-Rookie Teams, as selected by the Pro Football Writers of America. Draft Analyst Chad Reuter has a trio of Houston Texans rookies making the All-Rookie Team, on both offense and defense.
1. RB Dameon Pierce
The Texans hope that Pierce, drafted out of Florida in the fourth-round (107th overall), can boost a struggling run game along with veterans like Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack.
"Pierce has an excellent opportunity to earn a lot of carries for the Texans this year if veteran Marlon Mack doesn't grab the reins," Reuter writes. "Pierce's tough running and underappreciated short-area quickness allow him to move the chains and excel in short-yardage/goal-line situations."
2. LB Christian Harris
A third-round (75th overall) draft pick, Harris was a three-year starting linebacker for Alabama. During OTAs, Harris appeared to be taking in the coaching and was even getting reps with the first-team defense.
"I like Harris' chances of seeing significant playing time with the Texans as a rookie, as he can play all three linebacker spots in head coach Lovie Smith's 4-3 alignment," Reuter states. "Houston signed a few veteran linebackers this offseason but Harris' ability to cover, rush the passer and attack running lanes should put him in position to win a starting job early in the year."
3. DB Jalen Pitre
Pitre, selected out of Baylor with a second-round (37th overall pick), NFL.com's third Texan projected to make the 2022 All-Rookie Team.
Named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last year, the Stafford native also quickly began working with the first-team defense during OTAs. Head Coach Lovie Smith said he was "outstanding" during team work and showed a knack for the ball and Reuter seems to agree.
"Pitre did a bit of everything for Baylor's defense in 2021 and Texans fans should expect to see the same from him this fall. The comparisons with Tyrann Mathieu will be hard to ignore, as Pitre seems to regularly find the ball whether blitzing, avoiding linemen to get to running backs or staying with slot receivers and tight ends in coverage."
Reuter prefaced all of his projections by first stating, "getting thrown into the fire is no small task for NFL rookies."
"As you'll see, my projection for the 2022 All-Rookie Team leans heavily on early-round picks, as well," Reuter writes. "They have the talent -- and just as importantly, the opportunity that most middle-to-late round picks lack -- to impress during their initial professional season."
The Texans begin training camp at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Friday, July 29.