ESPN’s Tania Ganguli ran an excellent piece this morning detailing the rigid physical requirements that the Texans have tried to adhere to over the last two years while rebuilding the roster. In short, Bill O’Brien has done everything within his power to make this ball club bigger, stronger, longer, and meaner. Gone are the days of undersized nose tackles and lightweight offensive linemen; Houston wants to have more beef on the field than any other team. Based on ESPN’s numbers, I would say that they are making excellent progress towards that goal.
According to ESPN Stats and Info's David Kiarsis, defensive linemen acquired by the Texans with O'Brien as head coach and Romeo Crennel as defensive coordinator average 23 pounds heavier than those acquired through the draft or free agency by the Texans when Wade Phillips was defensive coordinator. The difference there when you only count draft picks is 14.5 pounds. Drafted defensive linemen averaged arms a full inch longer with Crennel as defensive coordinator than with Phillips. Defensive backs acquired in the past two years average nearly two inches taller than those taken when Phillips was here.
O’Brien then expanded on his requirements, saying that there is still room for some great, physically anomalous football players on this roster as well.
"Let’s say you have a linebacker that maybe doesn’t quite meet your height requirements," O’Brien said. "Let’s say inside linebackers need to be 6-3 and above and this guy might be 6 foot 250 pounds, but man he’s a hell of a football player. You make an exception from a height standpoint.
"You just can’t have too many exceptions. If you have too many exceptions you have a team that’s not quite as big as you want it to be. You have to keep track of how many exceptions you made."
The whole article if full of quote gems that give terrific context for how the Texans will approach the draft and free agency during the Bill O'Brien Era, and I highly recommend that you all give it a read.
Looking back on the past two Texans offseasons, O'Brien's size-based philosophy shows itself in nearly every personnel move that he and Rick Smith have made.
Brooks Reed and his below average 32" arms were allowed to walk in free agency while Whitney Mercilus, who has nearly 34" arms, was given a contract extension. Benardrick McKinney’s 6’4", 246 pound frame was chosen in the second round – after a trade up, no less – instead of the much more productive 6’0", 232 pound Eric Kendricks. Gargantuan nose tackle Vince Wilfork was brought in from New England, and the Texans hope to get 6’5", 270 pound former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney back from injury later this summer as well.
Whether it is through free agency, the draft, or players returning from injured reserve, the Texans will be bigger, stronger, longer, and meaner in 2015 than perhaps they have ever been in franchise history. I think I speak for everyone at BRB when I say that it's about damn time.