If you have even a remote understanding of the game of football and happened to watch the Chiefs obliterate the Texans last weekend in the wild card round, you may have noticed that Brian Hoyer is not a very good quarterback. While this is a team sport that often requires all 22 starters playing well in order to win, sometimes it only takes one starter playing horribly to lose. In Houston’s case, that one horrible starter was Hoyer.
Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith are virtually guaranteed to take at least one quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft later this spring – possibly even two of them – but what about the problem areas in the rest of the roster? A high number of painfully whiffed draft picks and free agent signings in the last three years took a toll on the Texans' depth in 2015, and without a stellar offseason this year that problem will only get worse. Here are five positions other than quarterback that absolutely must be addressed this spring either through the draft or in free agency.
Andre Hal showed a lot of potential in the back half of the season as a ball-hawking single high safety, but the Texans still do not really have any good options across from him. Eddie Pleasant had some good moments here and there – especially on special teams – but it would be a mistake to consider him a high quality long term starting option. The Texans really need a "do it all" safety in the mold of Eric Berry or Eric Weddle that has the range to play in a deep zone, the physicality to play in the box in dime packages, and the fluidity to handle quicker running backs and tight ends in coverage.
Luckily for Houston, 2016 is shaping up to be the best safety class in years, with headliners like Jalen Ramsey, Su’a Cravens, and Jeremy Cash. If Houston decides to forego taking a quarterback with the 22nd overall pick this year, do not be surprised to see them bolster the back half of the defense….again.
Boy, oh boy, did this offense miss Arian Foster or what? Bill O’Brien did the best he could with a platoon of ball carriers that all had very different skill-sets, but nobody on the roster outside of Foster could truly be defined as a three-down back. This year’s running back group in free agency is intriguing, with names like Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, Matt Forte, and Chris Ivory all available, but the Texans may elect to go with a cheaper option and take a young back in the draft. In that case, names like Zeke Elliot, C.J. Prosise, and Derrick Henry are all ones to watch.
Other than Vince Wilfork, the Texans do not have any true 0-technique nose tackles on the depth chart. On top of that, Wilfork himself was not nearly as effective in 2015 as he was during his prime years in New England. Houston needs to get a stout young option for the future, and they need it now. Damon Harrison of the Jets is going to be a prized asset in free agency among 3-4 teams in March, but if he is unavailable there are still plenty of gargantuan defensive tackle prospects strewn about the upcoming draft class. Keep your eye on UCLA’s Kenny Clark and Alabama’s Jarran Reed in particular.
5-Technique Defensive End
Defensive end has the potential to be a huge need if Jared Crick ends up walking during free agency. Christian Covington may be in line to inherit that role from Crick if and when he moves on, but the Texans still would lack much needed depth along the defensive line if that happens. As stated previously, this upcoming draft class is positively loaded with defensive line talent, so options at 5-technique could still be available well into day two with prospects like Adolphus Washington, Chris Jones, and Sheldon Day.
I would be perfectly fine with Ryan Griffin and Garrett Graham no longer being on the roster next season. Both of them have been billed so far as receiving tight ends, yet neither one seems to be capable of catching a football…or contributing in any aspect whatsoever, really. I’ll take one Hunter Henry, please.