The Houston Texans have been one of the more active teams in free agency this offseason. Putting together a team is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You cannot fill every gap in free agency, but you can fill in some. The rest of the holes will be filled in the draft. So, looking at the state of the roster following the first wave of free agency can give us some clues as to what they may target in the draft.
Last season, the Texans had Dameon Pierce, Dameon Pierce, and occasionally Dameon Pierce at running back. Obviously, we exaggerate to make a point. They employed a completely underwhelming group of backup backs. Fortunately, the team added Devin Singletary to give the team two primary rushers. Do they need to add more?
We will look at the Pro Football Focus grades for these backs to give us some idea. Obviously, PFF grades aren’t the end all be all of human existence, but they give us some ideas. We will look at overall grades, rushing grades, receiving grades, and pass blocking grades. Anything 50 or higher should be rostered somewhere. 60 or higher would represent a rotational player. 70 or higher would be a legitimate starter. Anything higher than that represents elite skills.
The Current Guys
Devin Singletary— 786 snaps, 78.6 overall, 85.1 Run, 58.5 Receiving, 73.2 Pass Blocking
Singletary has been a routine 800 yard rusher in his career with 35 to 45 catches a season. However, the grades above show you what you have and what you need. The Texans now have two elite rushers, but they may not have a quality third down option in passing situations. So, getting a rookie with receiving skills may end up being a priority.
Dameon Pierce— 507 snaps, 78.9 overall, 84.8 Run, 55.4 Receiving, 32.3 Pass Blocking
Pierce was a revelation last season. He could very well have been the best player on the Texans at any position for the 2022 Texans. He proved that he could carry the rock 20 or more times a season, but having a Singletary gives him the option to sit on occasion. Maybe he makes it through the season healthy this year.
Dare Ogunbowale— 184 snaps, 65.0 overall, 60.2 Run, 67.8 Receiving, 89.6 Pass Blocking
The concept of a jigsaw puzzle works in a lot of different ways. Ogunbowale really shouldn’t be a guy you hand the ball off to in crunch time, but he has shown that he can be a really good option on third downs in the passing game. He is a good receiver out of the back field and an elite blocker as well. He might be worth keeping around for that alone.
Mike Boone— 126 snaps, 53.2 overall, 59.3 Run, 47.1 Receiving, 42.1 Pass Blocking
Boone was the very first free agent the Texans signed. I imagine if they knew they were getting Singletary later that they wouldn’t have made this signing. Maybe he makes the team as a special teams guy, but it is more likely that he’s just a camp body. Somebody has to carry the rock in those all important preseason games.
What Needs to be Added
It would seem at first glance that you have all of your bases covered, but running back is a fascinating position in the league. On the one hand, you can get quality backs later in the draft. On the other hand, having multiple quality running backs may not have ever been as important as it is right now. That is obviously true for an offense that wants to operate like the San Francisco 49ers.
Looking at the individual skills that the backs bring to the forefront, shows that getting a back that has good receiver skills might be a priority. If the team can supplant Ogunbowale on third downs then they probably can go from having one of the worst running back rooms in the NFL to maybe the best room in the league. That could come as early as day two in the draft.