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2016 Houston Texans' Draft Needs: How Free Agency Changed The Biggest Holes On The Roster

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The offense may be mostly set for now, but the Rick Smith still has some work to do to make this roster championship ready.

The Texans have to give John Perry something else to work with at tight end.
The Texans have to give John Perry something else to work with at tight end.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the bulk of free agency winding down, the Texans' major draft needs have shifted more dramatically than arguably any other team in the league. Rick Smith and Bill O’Brien went into this offseason looking for a new quarterback and new running back more than any other positions.  Just six days later, the signings of Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, Jeff Allen, and Tony Bergstrom have blown their draft possibilities wide open in the first round. Virtually every position except quarterback is now on the table for this team to draft, which is exactly where the front office wants to be. Here is a quick rundown of the three "biggest" holes still on the roster as we approach the 2016 NFL Draft this April.

1. 5-Technique Defensive End

With Jared Crick still unsigned, there seems to be a semi-glaring need at defensive end across from J.J. Watt. Romeo Crennel may have been grooming Christian Covington to take over that role this season after Crick’s departure, but Houston's intentions with him are still an unknown at this point. All we do know for sure at the moment is that defensive end still needs work on the depth chart.

Considering how absurdly deep the defensive line is in this draft class, however, perhaps creating that "hole" in the roster in the first place was by design. Hell, Crennel could just throw a dart at the Alabama depth chart and manage to find himself a new day one starter on this line, and that does not even include the other seven or eight linemen in this class that could all justifiably be taken at 22nd overall. No matter what, someone of starting quality will be available by the time the Texans are on the clock, so this need should be among the easiest to fill on draft day.

2. Tight End

Bill O’Brien has yet to find anyone who resembles Rob Gronkowski in his offense, and that is a major problem. Tight ends are expected to be major factors both in the ground and pass game in this modified Erhardt-Perkins system, yet the Texans have not managed to find anyone capable of that after two full seasons of looking. Though perhaps a little early compared to his projected draft position, do not be shocked to see Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry come off the board at 22 just for the sake of adding someone on this roster who can catch tough passes over the middle. Henry astonishingly recorded zero drops in 2015 to go along with 51 catches, and he is also one of the few true inline tight ends in this class that knows how to open holes in the run game. He may not be Tyler Eifert, but he can be Heath Miller, which to be honest is all this offense really needs right now.

3. Safety

Andre Hal is cemented in as the starter at free safety for now, but strong safety is still very much up in the air. Quintin Demps has yet to be re-signed; even if he is brought back, he is not exactly a Pro Bowl-caliber player anyway. Romeo Crennel needs to find at least one other safety with range and ball skills in order to complement his aggressive trio of starting cornerbacks, and it just so happens that there is an above average number of DBs who fit that bill in this draft class.

Keep a close eye on Sean Davis out of Maryland, a slightly undersized but physically gifted athlete who can play either corner or safety in virtually any defensive scheme. He may not bring the size that you like to see from most safeties, but he is a leader and a very willing tackler.  Most importantly, he has the speed and fluidity to discourage quarterbacks from trying to beat him to a deep seam. Having two safeties in Hal and Davis that could either match up with receivers in man coverage or rotate back and play a centerfielder role would be huge for the versatility of this unit. I would be very excited to see Davis come off the board to Houston somewhere in the back half of the first round.

What are your top post-free agency needs for the Texans? Did I leave off a position group with a more pressing need than defensive end, tight end, or safety? If so, sound off in the comments and tell us which prospects you think Houston should look at to fill those new holes on the roster.