The Houston Texans defense took steps forward in some areas, while other areas still remain an issue.
The Texans secondary in particular was a bright spot throughout last season. Rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. and rookie safety Jalen Pitre flashed serious potential, while having good veteran production from Steven Nelson, Desmond King and Tavierre Thomas.
The Texans linebacker group needs work, and the good news is that help is on the way, with their newest additions. The group in 2022 consisted of rookie Christian Harris, who flashed at times, along with veteran linebackers Christian Kirksey, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Blake Cashman.
The Texans defensive line struggled mightily in both rushing the passer and stopping the run. The Texans still need help along their defensive line, but they are moving in the right direction.
Safety Jimmie Ward (San Francisco 49ers) A
Jimmie Ward may be turning 32 years old, but his play has not slowed down. The former first-round pick is still playing at a high level, intercepting the ball three times in 2022. Ward brings energy and physicality to the Texans defense, something that has been lacking throughout the past few years.
Defensive Tackle Sheldon Rankins (New Orleans Saints / New York Jets) B+
Rankins is another former first-round pick added to the Texans defense this offseason. Rankins is an underrated signing and will have a huge impact in DeMeco Ryans defense. Rankins is only playing on a one-year deal, but if he can put together an impressive season, it would not be surprising to see the talented player eventually signed to an extension.
Defensive Tackle Hassan Ridgeway (Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers) B-
Ridgeway is a solid rotational player that has experience playing for new Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. Ridgeway is a monster on the interior and will definitely help out in the run game when given the opportunity.
Linebacker Denzel Perryman (Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders) A
The Texans needed help at the linebacker position and Perryman is a boom or bust type of player. When Perryman is healthy and on the field, he is a Pro Bowl caliber player. The problem is his ability to stay on the field for a full season. Perryman was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2021, accumulating 151 tackles. In 2022, Perryman had 83 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions.
Linebacker Cory Littleton (Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers) B-
Cory Littleton is a former Pro Bowl player that will bring experience and a knack for the football to the Texans defense.
Defensive End Chase Winovich (New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns) C+
Chase Winovich was likely brought in to be a rotational player that can step in if needed. Winovich has 12 career sacks throughout his first four seasons in the NFL.
The Texans defense still has a long way to go, but it is encouraging to see Texans General Manager Nick Caserio and head coach DeMeco Ryans on the same page, and continuing to add the right pieces to their ascending defense.