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Houston Texans Rosterology: Final Prediction

A prediction of who will make Houston’s final roster.

NFL: AUG 28 Preseason - Buccaneers at Texans Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re here. The season is nigh and my fantasy football team is already stressing me out. If it wasn’t obvious already, Houston’s current front office is not afraid to wheel and deal. No player is safe. The Texans are out with the old, in with the meh.

Here are three moves the Texans have completed since our Rosterology picks last week.

Obviously losing Shaq Lawson and receiving a less-than-valuable draft pick was the highlight of the week, outside of us being on Hard Knocks or getting our rump spanked by the Super Bowl champs at home. Losing Lawson opens Pandora’s box on defense. It was clear that he wasn’t going to start, but now who else do the Texans think is not worthy of being on the roster?

This year is truly a clean slate. The predicted roster has 32 new faces, which I’m imagining is the most out of any team in the league. There’s one big prediction about our most important or infamous player that you’ll see in a moment. Outside of that, there’s another round of shifts and adjustments made since last week including five new players. Those guys are listed in italics.

Last Four IN:

Cornell Armstrong

Terrance Brooks

Roy Lopez

Cole Toner

First Four OUT:

Scottie Phillips

Keke Coutee

Terrance Mitchell

Biggest Riser:

DeMarcus Walker

Biggest Faller:

Desmond King II

Offense (26)

Quarterbacks (3)

Tyrod Taylor

Davis Mills

Jeff Driskel

PREDICTION: QB DESHAUN WATSON TO BE PLACED ON NFL COMMISSIONER’S EXEMPT LIST.

That’s right. The Texans don’t want to waste a roster spot on Deshaun Watson and neither does the NFL. Instead, they are going to make a premeditated decision to place Watson on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. Some say the List is a cop-out, but for the team and the league, it is a win-win move. This situation is difficult for everyone, especially those involved. Making this decision helps postpone punishment until a verdict is reached

Now on to the players. For Jeff Driskel, I’ll capitulate. Driskel will potentially be on this roster considering the inconsistent play of Davis Mills so far. Mills has thrown FOUR interceptions through preseason. That’s a horrific amount. Nevertheless, Mills will enter the season as Houston’s backup with time to develop and prepare for his debut.

As for Tyrod Taylor, he finally has his full fledged opportunity to be the starter and earn his place in the league. Barring injury, Taylor will be at the helm for a full season with the team’s offense in his hands. I have enough faith in him to believe he’ll be sufficient, but the question remains until it doesn’t if he is a legitimate NFL QB.

Running Backs (4)

David Johnson

Phillip Lindsay

Rex Burkhead

Mark Ingram II

Unfortunately, I’ll side with Sarah Barshop of ESPN and commit to Rex Burkhead making the roster. Scottie Phillips still qualifies as a practice squad guy, which means he can stay in the locker room and not suit up. It’ll be interesting if the Texans plan to run Mark Ingram as much as they’ve run him in the preseason. It would certainly be one of many potential surprises heading into the season.

Tight Ends (4)

Jordan Akins

Pharaoh Brown

Brevin Jordan

Ryan Izzo

I was quite tempted in two directions. First, I can’t see the Texans easily parting with tight end Antony Auclair. He’s had a stellar and well-rounded preseason. He adds quality depth to the offense. However there isn’t anything he does particularly unique from what the other four on this list supply. The second direction was keeping this group to three and adding a roster spot for the offensive line. My reasoning to go this direction is that Izzo has a better repertoire of plays and routes demonstrated thus far this preseason. We’re going to watch this group with a keen eye as we could overlook the team’s true preferences.

Wide Receiver (7)

Nico Collins

Chris Conley

Brandin Cooks

Alex Erickson

Anthony Miller

Chris Moore

Andre Roberts

Nico Collins played his best game of the preseason against the Bucs and potentially overtook players like Chris Moore and Chris Conley as WR2. With Anthony Miller’s injury, there’s a ton of targets up in the air and Collins could be the benefactor of that.

Again, Keke Coutee doesn’t make the roster and Alex Erickson passes him up. Preseason can or cannot be a reflection of the coaches preferences. I believe here using Erickson in the slot is the ultimate illustration of the end of Coutee’s run in Houston.

Offensive Linemen (8)

Justin Britt

Justin McCray

Charlie Heck

Max Scharping

Geron Christian Jr.

Laremy Tunsil

Tytus Howard

Cole Toner

One major shift here is Marcus Cannon being placed on IR. He’s replaced by Cole Toner. This spot could go to Lane Taylor, but considering he’s on the PUP list, it’s less likely Taylor will make the roster. Both are guards primarily, but this will be a decision of best player available. Toner fits better across the offensive line than the others. This shift will force Tytus Howard inside to play left guard. Personally I prefer Howard at right tackle, as I don’t trust Charlie Heck at that position, but if we’re here to experiment, let’s throw the entire kitchen sink at it.

Defense (26)

Defensive Ends (5)

Jacob Martin

Whitney Mercilus

Jonathan Greenard

Jordan Jenkins

Charles Omenihu

Last week I included in this section with “If Shaq Lawson doesn’t make this team, don’t gasp.” We’re off to a hot start on the predictions, lads and ladies. Interestingly enough, Lawson was traded for scraps and was sent to a scrap yard franchise. This highlights a significant amount of adjustments that will occur heading into Tuesday. This position doesn’t get filled. Instead, it shifts a spot to the interior defensive linemen.

Defensive Tackles (5)

DeMarcus Walker

Maliek Collins

Roy Lopez

Vincent Taylor

Ross Blacklock

Taylor continues to start at defensive tackle this week and should maintain this role heading into the season. I believe this coaching staff loves rookie Roy Lopez. They’ve been rotating him frequently and giving him tons of reps. Equally so, I believe they’re disenchanted with Ross Blacklock. Blacklock fits the system better now than he did previously, but his role in the defense is that of a rotational piece rather than a starting player... which he should be.

This group has performed valiantly over the past several weeks. They’ve lost several members along the way in dramatic moves, but we’ll see how stays and who goes in this room.

Linebackers (5)

Kamu Grugier-Hill

Zach Cunningham

Christian Kirksey

Kevin Pierre-Louis

Garret Wallow (+1 Practice Squad)

No movement here. This group is as disappointing as it is stable. Pierre-Louis and Grugier-Hill haven’t impressed; both are liabilities in the pass protection. Pierre-Louis in particular has had difficulty as the weakside linebacker in run fits. Cunningham and Christian Kirksey will be an impressive duo, but we’ll see how they match and dance together.

Cornerbacks (6)

Bradley Roby

Vernon Hargreaves III

Rasul Douglas

Desmond King II

Ka’Dar Hollman

Cornell Armstrong (+1 Practice Squad)

Outside of existential crises, this group of cornerbacks keeps me up at night. The quantity of the moves the front office has made does not inspire confidence around the quality of the cornerback position.

Ka’Dar Hollman spent all of one week as the FNG in this group before Rasul Douglas claimed that spot. He takes over for Terrance Mitchell, who has been relatively horrific in coverage and targeted by other teams in the preseason. I have written down in my game notes each week “QB targeting #39”, which is Mitchell. Not like Hargreaves is any better, but Douglas should provide much needed support across this lineup.

Desmond King didn’t have his finest play against the Bucs. He got crossed up on several occasions and struggled with tight coverage. He’ll remain on the roster, but the Texans need a contingency plan if he doesn’t work out.

Safeties (5)

Justin Reid

Lonnie Johnson Jr.

A.J. Moore Jr.

Eric Murray

Terrence Brooks

The Johnson-Reid combination will be impressive, but can it be enough to save this Mendoza Line defense? Murray has been serviceable, but it remains to be seen if he has anything left in the tank. Terrence Brooks is also a semi enigma; he’ll be a special teams guy through and through.

Special Teams (3)

Long Snapper - Jon Weeks

Kicker - Ka’imi Fairbairn

Punter - Cameron Johnston

The dramatic releasing and then re-signing of Jon Weeks was unnecessary and rough. I’m surprised he even stayed with the roster after that. Someday the Texans will replace Weeks, but not this week and not this season. Cameron Johnston has been an impressive and understated addition to the roster and has commanded the position quite well. We’ll see how he performs throughout the season.

One thing to consider heading into the cuts is that the Texans usually over-cut players in anticipation of one to two players from other teams being cut that they are interested in. If that’s the case, I’ll imagine Terrance Brooks and one of the linemen get the axe, as they add depth in other positions or as a swap.

I’ve always enjoyed this point in the preseason process. It shows how your team prioritizes its own players and where they see the most potential. Veterans of the O’Brien era should all have their bags packed and phones on loud in case they get a call.

Most likely the first round of cuts will occur early, perhaps as early as this morning. It should be a two-day process. The roster is set to be cut to 53 players on or before August 31st at 3 p.m. CDT.