The Houston Texans defensive line in 2021 was below average for a majority of the year. The Texans were one of the worst teams in the NFL in run defense and getting sacks. Despite the below-average production on the defensive line, there is still a lot to look forward to if you are a Texans fan.
The Texans seem to have found a full-time starter in Jonathan Greenard. Greenard was drafted in the third-round out of Florida in 2020 as an outside linebacker and played at that position throughout his rookie year. It wasn’t until 2021 when Texans defensive coordinator at the time Lovie Smith switched Greenard to defensive end and we saw consistent flashes of the player Greenard could eventually become. Playing in only twelve games his sophomore season, Greenard accumulated a team high 8-sacks. Greenard had an elite defensive grade of 82.9 which would rank 11th in the NFL and another elite pass rush grade of 89.2 which would rank 7th in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. If Greenard can stay healthy for 17-games, the sky is the limit for him.
Another player that shined along the defensive line was defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who was brought in as a free agent on a one-year deal in 2021 and eventually signed a two-year extension with the Texans this offseason. The Texans seem to have also found a late-round gem in defensive tackle Roy Lopez, who was selected in the sixth-round of the 2021 NFL Draft and started 15 games as a rookie.
Here are some players that can come in and provide much needed help along the defensive line for the Texans:
Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) Defensive End
Kayvon Thibodeaux was the early favorite to be the first-overall pick in this upcoming draft, but that hype has gone down quite a bit, leading to Thibodeaux likely being available when the Texans pick at No. 3. The Texans defensive line needs to put more pressure on the quarterback and Thibodeaux would be a great addition to a defensive line that already has a young promising defensive end in Jonathan Greenard.
Jermaine Johnson (Florida State) Defensive End
Jermaine Johnson is one of my favorite players in this draft class and should be under consideration to be selected with the Texans 13th overall pick. Jermaine Johnson’s strength and freak athleticism will show immediately in both the run game and his ability to rush the quarterback.
Jordan Davis (Georgia) Defensive Tackle
Drafting Jordan Davis to a Texans defensive line that already has Maliek Collins, Roy Lopez and Ross Blacklock would likely solidify the Texans run defense problems.
The Houston Texans defensive line is a few pieces away from becoming dominant once again. Nick Caserio must hit on these upcoming picks and if anyone is going to coach up these players and bring the best out of them, it’s Lovie Smith.