Texans' needs to be addressed in NFL Draft
HOUSTON – After last season's splash in free agency, the Texans have done little to make waves this offseason.
Lamar Miller rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first season in Houston, but Brock Osweiler found himself packing his bags and leaving town a bit earlier than expected after a shaky season. Osweiler may have been the victim of some bad luck, but with the ruthlessness of the Houston faithful, the team was left with little choice but to move on.
Houston resigned kicker Nick Novak and punter Shane Lechler, so barring injuries, special teams is covered minus a consistent return man. Jon Weeks continues to be one of the greatest Texans who no one knows.
Houston's defense carried the team to the Division Round of the playoffs last season. Houston lost to New England, which eventually won the Super Bowl.
In terms of team needs, it seems appropriate to start on the offensive side of the ball.
Quarterback is the most glaring of needs.
Osweiler is gone and the two quarterbacks on the roster right now are Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden.
Savage started two games for Houston last season, going 1-1. He didn't throw for a touchdown or an interception while racking up 461 yards through the air.
Weeden has 25 career starts (1-0 with Houston) while compiling a 6-19 record.
It seems pretty safe to say the Texans should be picking this college crop of quarterbacks apart to see if their man is there.
North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks on the board. He is projected to be taken in the first round, but it's no sure thing that he will be available when Houston picks 25th.
Trubisky has only started 13 games in his college career, but his 2016 stats have surely helped his cause. He threw for 3,748 yards and 30 TDs with a 158.3 rating.
Clemson's Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech are also being regarded as potential first-round picks in this year's draft.
Watson led Clemson to back-to-back national championship game appearances, leading Clemson to a win in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. Many point to his leadership ability and his intangibles as to the reason he went 32-3 as a three-year starter in his collegiate career.
Mahomes benefited from the Air Raid offense in Lubbock, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he has a cannon. He became the third player in FBS history with multiple seasons of 5,000 total yards of offense.
The Texans' offensive line could also use some upgrades.
Center Nick Martin (Houston's second-round pick in 2016) should be ready to go after suffering a season-ending injury during a preseason game and missing the entire regular season.
Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo has been a solid starter since taking over the full-time job last season. He started 15 games and is 26 years old.
Left tackle Duane Brown is the staple of Houston's offensive line and is also a critical piece of the heartbeat of the Texans.
Brown has dealt with his share of injuries in recent seasons, but Houston will need a full, productive season from him in order to have a shot at competing come playoffs.
That leaves the right side of the line, which clearly could use some help.
Guard Jeff Allen started 14 games for Houston last year, his first season with the Texans. Allen is 27 years old and Houston brought him in as a free agent before the 2016 season.
Tackle Chris Clark has started 18 games for Houston over the past two seasons. He has started 45 games in his career in Denver and Houston.
This year's draft is said to be full of talent on the offensive line. With the perception of a deep class at the position, it seems fair to say the Texans have a good chance at striking gold with a mid-round pick.
Alabama's Cam Robinson, Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk, Utah's Garett Bolles, USC's Zach Banner and Western Michigan's Taylor Moton are a few tackles to keep an eye on come draft day. Each of these players is expected to have an immediate impact on the outside of the offensive line of whichever team drafts them.
Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp, Temple's Dion Dawkins, Indiana's Dan Freeney and two Pitt guards, Dorian Johnson and Adam Bisnowaty, are a few guards who could hear their names called early in the draft.
If Houston decides to take an offensive lineman in the first round, it would seem safe to say they would target a tackle due to Brown's age and the concerns on the right side of the line.
The Texans could also be looking to add depth on the defensive side of the ball.
Kevin Johnson, Houston's first-round pick in 2015 (16th overall), should be back on the field after suffering a season-ending injury in the team's sixth game of the season in 2016. He will help in the secondary after the loss of A.J. Bouye in free agency.
Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson and Johnson would make up a solid trio of cornerbacks, but after the departure of Bouye and safety Quentin Demps, the Texans are a little short in the defensive backfield.
It would also make sense for Houston to look at safeties and linebackers in the first round.
LSU's Jamal Adams is sure to be off the clock when Houston picks in the first round, but Ohio State's Malik Hooker, Florida's Marcus Maye and Washington's Budda Baker are some names to watch. They are all expected to have a quick impact on the game.
Another playmaker in the defensive secondary who is on the board is Michigan's Jabril Peppers. Peppers had a great season last year, propelling him into first-round talks.
Missouri's Charles Harris, University of Houston's Tyus Bowser, Wisconsin's T.J. Watt (yes, J.J.'s brother) and Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams from Alabama are all expected to be playmakers from the linebacker position.
Houston has options with the 25th pick; it just comes down to the team having a plan and executing its plan.
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