The Houston Texans enter the offseason with more questions than answers and won’t be able to answer all those questions by the time the season starts. Even if they figure out the Deshaun Watson situation and find a head coach, the roster lacks depth and continuity. Most noticeably, the Texans have 29 players headed for free agency, second most in the league. They’ll keep some of the players, but here’s how every position ranks in terms of need heading into the offseason.
Current roster: Tavierre Thomas, Lonnie Johnson, Tremon Smith, Jimmy Moreland, Grayland Arnold
Top Three Free Agents: J.C. Jackson, Stephon Gilmore, Carlton Davis
Top Three Draft Prospects: Derek Stingley, Ahmad Gardner, Andrew Booth Jr.
What To Watch: If the Texans fall in love with Derek Stingley or Ahmad Gardner. Two of the best cornerback prospects in the draft will be available for the Texans at the third pick. They can also trade down and try to land one later on. They’ll still need to surround this talent with other reliable secondary playmakers.
2. Defensive End/Pass Rusher
Current roster: Jonathan Greenard, Jordan Jenkins, Ron’Dell Carter
Top Three Free Agents: Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell, Haason Reddick
Top Three Draft Prospects: Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, George Karlaftis
What To Watch: The Texans first or second round pick will address this position plus. Jacob Martin could stay if resigned along with DeMarcus Walker. Expect two or three potentially new faces here by the end of April.
3. Wide Receiver
Current roster: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Phillip Dorsett, Jalen Camp, Damon Hazelton
Top Three Free Agents: Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson
Top Three Draft Prospects: Garret Wilson, Jameson Williams, Chris Olave
What To Watch: What the Texans do with the second round pick. If Jahan Dotson from Penn State falls, or if the Texans are willing to take a chance on John Metchie III who tore his ACL in the National Championship game. If not, they’ll use a late round draft pick plus a couple free agents.
4. Running Back
Current Roster: Rex Burkhead, Scottie Phillips, Darius Anderson
Top Three Free Agents: James Conner, Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon
Top Three Draft Prospects: Kenneth Walker III, Kyren Williams, Breece Hall
What To Watch: Texans will approach this position for what seems like the fifth season with desperate need. They haven’t drafted a running back since 2017 in D’Onta Foreman (and no Cullen Gillaspia doesn’t count). They should draft a running back with the second third round pick. Give me Hall in the third though.
Current Roster: Eric Murray, TJ Green, Jonathan Owens
Top Three Free Agents: Jessie Bates III, Marcus Williams, Marcus May
Top Three Draft Prospects: Kyle Hamilton, Jaquan Brisker, Lewis Cine
What To Watch: There’s a high likelihood the Texans fill this draft with secondary players. Equally likable the Texans double dip at safety in early rounds and in the sixth.
6. Interior Offensive Line
Current Roster: Max Scharping, Justin McCray, Jake Eldrenkamp, Jordan Steckler, Sam Cooper
Top Three Free Agents: Brandon Scherff, Austin Corbett, Alex Cappa
Top Three Draft Prospects: Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green, Zion Johnson
What To Watch: Scharping is a guard and McCray had an up-and-down season. A rotational guard will be added via free agency. I can’t see the team using an early pick here, even though it would go a long way.
7. Offensive Tackle
Current Roster: Tytus Howard, Laremy Tunsil, Charlie Heck, Marcus Canon
Top Three Free Agents: Orlando Brown, Terron Armstead, Trent Brown
Top Three Draft Prospects: Evan Neal, Charles Cross, Ikem Ekwonu
What To Watch: With Laremy Tunsil most likely leaving town, Texans should draft Evan Neal at three if he’s there. If not, there’s plenty of second round talent. Overall the Texans need to continue to bring in young, talented offensive lineman until the problem is solved.
8. Tight End
Current roster: Brevin Jordan, Paul Quessenberry
Top Three Free Agents: Mike Gesicki, Dalton Shultz, David Njoku
Top Three Draft Prospects: Trey McBride, Jalen Wydermyer (I like this guy), Jeremy Ruckert
What To Watch: If the Texans keep Jordan Akins and Anthony Auclair. Brevin Jordan was dynamic in his first season and a stellar long-term add, but he can’t do it alone...especially block.
9. Outside Linebacker
Current roster: Kevin Pierre-Louis, Derek Rivers, Garret Wallow, Demone Harris, Josh Watson
Top Three Free Agents: Von Miller, Anthony Barr, Melvin Ingram
Top Three Draft Prospects: Nakobe Dean, Damone Clark, Christian Harris
What To Watch: Veterans. Not enough draft picks to address this position and players in college usually aren’t ready. Expect a high-end outside linebacker to be signed. Needs to be a system fit.
Current roster: Davis Mills, Deshaun Watson
Top Three Free Agents: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, James Wintson
Top Three Draft Prospects: Kenny Pickett, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder
What To Watch: Watch for Watson to be traded before the NFL Draft. The Texans will want more picks and to rid themselves of his story line. There will be one or two veterans signed in free agency, but maybe a sixth round backup QB too.
11. Inside Linebacker
Current roster: NONE
Top Three Free Agents: Dont’a Hightower, Jarrad Davis, Jayon Brown
Top Three Draft Prospects: Devin Lloyd (I like this guy), Zakoby McClain, Quay Walker
What To Watch: The Texans bring back Christian Kirksey and Kamu Grugier-Hill. Devin Lloyd would be an ideal fit in this defense, but Kirksey and Grugier-Hill can and should return back to Houston via free agency. If not, this position shoots up the needs list.
12. Defensive Tackle
Current roster: Ross Blacklock, Roy Lopez, Michael Dwumfor
Top Three Free Agents: Brandon Williams, Ndamukong Such, Vernon Butler
Top Three Draft Prospects: Jordan Davis, Demarvin Leal, Zachary Carter
What To Watch: Two young defensive lineman anchor this group, but an interior pass rusher from free agency would be a nice accent to this top-heavy team. There’s talented free agents available at bargain rates.