Prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, we wrote that TCU linebacker Garret Wallow’s best fit with an NFL team could be as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Wallow will instead find himself lining up in new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith’s 4-3 scheme after being selected by the Houston Texans as the No. 170 overall pick in the fifth round of the draft earlier this month.
Wallow is the second Horned Frog defender drafted to the Texans in as many years, joining former TCU standout defensive tackle and second-round draft pick Ross Blacklock. A durable, reliable leader for the Horned Frog defense, Wallow will join a Houston Texan linebacker room that is deep with young and veteran talent.
Garret Wallow projects to be a weakside linebacker in Lovie Smith's 4-3 defense, @jharrisfootball says.— SportsRadio 610 (@SportsRadio610) May 1, 2021
"He was the brain of that TCU defense."https://t.co/yIyCXGo2uu #NFLDraft #NFLDraft2021 #TexansDraft pic.twitter.com/eUT5L2qN3a
The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder will likely start as a depth option for the Texans, who recently signed former New York Jets linebacker Neville Hewitt and inked former Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey to a one-year, $4.5 million contract in March. The Texans also made moves on linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis and Kamu Grugier-Hill, signing them away from the Washington Football Team and the Miami Dolphins.
#Texans take LB Garret Wallow (@gwallow_12)from TCU in 5th: “It was a surreal moment to see my mom break down&me break down as well.I was shocked to be honest.I wasn’t expecting to go at that pick.Just amazing,especially seeing something you’ve been working for your whole life.”— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) May 1, 2021
With Zach Cunningham serving as the only returning starter at the inside linebacker position, Houston has clearly made upgrading at the position a priority over the offseason. What’s notable is that many of the linebacker signed are on one-year or two-year contracts, meaning Wallow will have an opportunity to work his way into a long-term role with the team. That work could start on special teams, where Wallow made his presence felt as an up-and-coming player at TCU before becoming a defensive starter.
The Texans traded up to select Wallow in the fifth round, a clear indication they saw tremendous value in adding him at that point in the draft. Houston will need some firepower in the middle of its defense after trading Benardrick McKinney to the Dolphins earlier this offseason. Future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt is also gone after he inked a deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Having an inside linebacker who can make tackles and get after the opposing quarterback, something Wallow did to the tune of 295 total tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks while at TCU, would immediately elevate a Houston defense that ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (160.3) and 30th in yards allowed per game (416.8).