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ESPN's NFL Future Power Rankings Bode Poorly For Houston Texans

Houston Texans fans may feel good about the direction of their team going forward, but ESPN suggests that the future isn't as bright as it might seem when compared to the other 31 teams in the NFL.

No. 24?
No. 24?
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For as much as we all complain about power rankings, we still read them. And as much as I hate writing about power rankings, it's June 30th and we are starving for something to talk about. Hence, this post about ESPN's future power rankings on a Tuesday morning.

The explanation and parameters of ESPN's analysis:

To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons, we asked our panel of experts -- John Clayton, Louis Riddick and Mike Sando -- to rate each team on a scale of 0-100 in five categories: roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching.

After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score -- roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent). The result is a comprehensive rankings based on how well each team is positioned for the future.

You might think your Houston Texans, coming off a 9-7 season and in a bad division, would be considered to be in relatively good shape for the next three seasons. According to the ESPN troika responsible for this exercise, you would be wrong. Very, very, VERY wrong.

24. Houston Texans
2014 record: 9-7 (2nd in AFC South)
AFC South future rank: 2nd
Overall score: 64.1

The overview: The Texans seem to have gotten the coaching hire right. A 13-spot gain to 10th in that category helped them move up three spots overall. They were flat in every other category, and they cannot know whether their long-term quarterback is on the roster, which is obviously a big concern for the future. Possibly whiffing on Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 while failing to secure a quarterback has made it tougher for the Texans to gain traction overall. --Mike Sando

The dilemma: It all comes down to the quarterbacks. Having a strong showing in OTAs/minicamps is a good start, but can Bill O'Brien get his stable of passers ready for the regular season? The guy who needs to win this job is Brian Hoyer, a player I had hoped could turn out to be a playoff-caliber QB. His chances of success in Houston are much greater than what they were in Cleveland, where they were waiting for him to fail. What would really make things interesting going forward: If QB Tom Savage can make a significant second-year leap and outplay both Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. --Louis Riddick

The youth movement: The Texans recovered from a horrible 2013 draft with O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith working together on fitting players into the scheme. O'Brien wants bigger offensive and defensive linemen and more angular corners for man coverage. This should bode well for the future. Xavier Su'a-Filo should be a force at right guard. Louis Nix III has the perfect mentor at nose tackle in Vince Wilfork, and O'Brien should get a lot out of the remaining 10-player 2014 draft class, provided Clowney recovers from his knee injury.Kevin Johnson, taken in the first round this year, completes the cornerback group. --John Clayton

I'll readily admit the glaring question mark at QB, but I'm not quite sure how that alone could "mathematically" put the Texans as the team with the 9th least promising future in the entire league, especially considering that none of the QB contracts have far-reaching effects on the team's cap going forward. Given all the other strengths within the organization, particularly at head coach and elsewhere on the roster, is the QB situation and the uncertainty surrounding Jadeveon Clowney enough to make you think 23 other teams have a brighter future in the NFL for the next three seasons?