Nick Caserio may be making the picks, but it will be Pep Hamilton’s new offensive scheme that will dictate who he selects.
This 2022 class of rookies will be the window into the Texans Post-O’Brien era. Last year’s offense was an extension of O’Brien doctrine with Tim Kelly running the show. Pep will operate under a different cadence and the offense will look entirely different.
Let’s take a trip in the Delorian to Hamilton’s first offensive coordinator role in Indianapolis.
In a 2013 article while with the Indianapolis Colts as their OC, Pep said it will “knock the defense back,” run with power, “create conflicts” and mismatches while throwing in rhythm, stressing early-down completions and third-down efficiency and taking its shots downfield.
Stealing a quote again from 2013 Bleacher Report article where Hamilton outlined his offensive game plan:
I think it’s important that we have balance in our offense. We’re not just a one-dimensional football team. We want to create conflicts for our opponents.
We want to have the ability to not only push the ball downfield and hit the big play in the passing game but we’ve got to be able to run the football and hammer the nail saw. We’re going to work hard to do that, work hard to establish balance in the offense. We want to control the clock.
This offense hearkens back to the late 2010s era of Texans football under Gary Kubiak. Methodical, deliberate offense highlighted by change of pace players who can capitalize on depleted defenses.
To do so, you don't need the best athletes. You need the right ones.
If Pep Hamilton is going to turn this offense around, he’s going to have to do it from the ground-up. Literally. The Texans had the worst offensive run game in the league last year while having a top 10 payroll (mostly thanks to David Johnson).
When the Texans announced Pep Hamilton as the new offensive coordinator, also newly crowned head coach Lovie Smith had this to say: “When I say he’s an offensive coach with a defensive mentality, I’m talking about, yeah, all offensive guys want to pass the ball, but who are you?” Smith said, “For Pep, it’s about being a tough football team. To say you’re a tough football team, you have to be able to run the football.”
Pep Hamilton is from the Harbaugh school of Stanford where tight ends are a priority. He followed Andrew Luck to Indianapolis and helped him carve out his career there too. Pep Hamilton is a run-first play caller, which will require more and diverse tight ends to be added. The current depth chart is Pharaoh Brown, Brevin Jordan, and Anthony Auclair. None of which are quality dual-threat tight ends. Brevin is basically a slot receiver. Brown was horrific. Auclair is closer to a USFL tight end than an NFL one. There’s reason to believe the Texans will look to the draft to add talent here.
All signs point to running back being a primary concern for the Texans to address early in the draft. This draft lacks both elite talent and depth. There is a handful of second tier guys who will be available in the second and third rounds, but none project as an immediate starting back in the league.
On Pep Hamilton staying pic.twitter.com/zuJlIvmE59— Amateur Mocker Matt Robinson (@HoustonHoudini) March 26, 2022
Toughness also starts up front. The Texans have both the left and right tackle solidified, but their interior offensive lineman lack depth, talent, and grit. Jimmy Morrissey was a revelation this year in replacement of Justin Britt, but even he may not be a long term solution. The Texans have also yet to sign any legitimate interior offensive lineman, which indicates they have eyes to answer this position group in the draft. All eyes will be on the Texans taking Tyler Linderbaum, the center out of Iowa with the 13th overall pick.
Hamilton will have a mixed bag of players to lay down the foundation of his offense. Veterans Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks, Rex Burkhead, Pharaoh Brown, and Tytus Howard will be day-one starters and provide consistency. There’s also an emerging young class of players such as Brevin Jordan, Jimmy Morrissey, Nico Collins, and of course Davis Mills. This isn’t an elite group by any means, but there’s enough here to cobble together points.
But together with several key rookies over the next three years of drafts, the Texans offense molded under Pep Hamilton’s hard-nosed stile can return to its once recent prominence and prolific ways.