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Have The Houston Texans Improved Their Defensive Line?

A deeper look into the Houston Texans defensive line.

Houston Texans v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, the Houston Texans defensive line was not good enough. Although there were a few bright spots, the entire group was incredibly inconsistent. The Texans have made various additions throughout this offseason towards fixing that problem.

The Texans need to be more efficient rushing the passer in 2022. Defensive end Jonathan Greenard looked the part and was heading towards a potential double digit sack season until lingering injuries and being placed on the COVID-19 Reserve list, which shortened his breakout season. Greenard accumulated 8 sacks in just twelve games and was one of the highest graded pass rushers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Jonathan Greenard will likely be the week one starter, but who will be rushing on the opposite side of Greenard? We will likely have to wait until training camp to get a better idea, but the Texans have a few options. The Texans signed former Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Ogbo Okoronkwo, who has had limited snaps throughout his NFL career but has above average defensive grades of 64, 67.1 and 79.5, according to Pro Football Focus. Another player the Texans brought in that will compete for the starting job week one is former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Rasheem Green. Green is only 24 years old and is coming off a career best 6.5 sacks in 2021.

The Texans continued their additions to the defensive line room by signing veteran defensive ends Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes, who were both most recently with the Buffalo Bills. Addison is coming off a successful 2021 season in which he accumulated 7 sacks at 34-years old. Addison has 67 career sacks and will not only be a good player for the Texans but will also be a great mentor. Jerry Hughes is another great veteran addition for the Texans. Like Addison, Hughes will be another mentor for the younger players in the locker room and can still play good football. In 2021, Hughes had and 81.2 pass rush grade which is 15th best in the NFL. Greenard is on that same list with an 89.2 pass rush grade, which is 7th best in the NFL.

The run defense for the Houston Texans in 2021 was one of the worst in the NFL. The Texans re-signed defensive tackle Maliek Collins and Head Coach Lovie Smith has praised Collins on numerous occasions while also recently saying “I think in 2021, Maliek was at the tip of the iceberg on what he can be.” Another player the Texans have high hopes for is defensive tackle Roy Lopez, who started 15 games for Houston in 2021 as a rookie. Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison should help in the run defense department as well.

The Houston Texans have added an abundance of talent to the defensive side of the ball this offseason and in order for the entire defense as a whole to improve, the defensive line in particular has to be better. Outside of Jonathan Greenard and Maliek Collins, most defensive line spots will be up for grabs, leading to an interesting training camp.