This is a new series on the blog where I take a team and do a deep examination of their roster. I hope you all enjoy!
Wide Receiver #1: DeAndre Hopkins
There are only two or three receivers in the NFL that can claim to be on the same level as “Hop.” After 1378 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago, it will be very hard to replicate this performance. But considering that he will have a full season with Deshaun Watson, similar production to last year should be expected by the end of the year.
Wide Receiver #2: Will Fuller
Three words. Pure. Deep. Threat. Will Fuller is one of the best long-range weapons in the NFL with average yards per catch at 15.1 per sports reference. even though he doesn’t have the best hands in the world (he drops a lot of passes), he is still incredibly dangerous downfield as he had seven touchdowns in only 10 games.
Slot Receiver: Bruce Ellington
Bruce Ellington didn’t give the Texans too much production in his first season (2017)as a slot receiver, but he was reliable all year long. Particularly against New England because of his 8 catches for over 100 yards and a touchdown. With just over 400 yards and two touchdowns last year, I expect Ellington to produce a little bit better (about 700 yards and 6 TDs) with a full season of Deshaun Watson.
Left Tackle: Julie’n Davenport
Davenport, a former Division 2 standout, is the expected blindside protector for the Houston Texans this season. Despite struggling in limited time last season, his potential at 6’7” is off the charts and he should become dominant in time as a pass blocker.
Left Guard: Senio Kelemete
Kelemete has been a career backup in the NFL for seven years and he’ll finally get a chance to showcase his superior run blocking. He is a true road grader as in when he starts downhill he’s almost unstoppable and my only concern with him is his lack of experience.
Center: Nick Martin
The Notre Dame product was incredibly disappointing last year but he’s looked much improved during the preseason. He already has the potential (physical abilities), he just needs to work on the technicalities of the position such as moving his feet quicker and keeping his hands low and he’ll be fine.
Right Guard: Zach Fulton
A chief’s savior last year with the injury to Mitch Morse, Zach Fulton is heading south to Houston. He is the most complete offensive lineman on the Texans currently as he excels in the running game and pass protection.
Right Tackle: Seantrel Henderson
Henderson is by far the most talented lineman on the roster. He was a pro bowler his rookie season (2013). And now he has missed 30 of a possible forty-eight games the last three years. If he can stay healthy maybe he can return to that pro bowl form.
Quarterback: Deshaun Watson
Superstar. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Watson. Not only did he singlehandedly defeat the greatest college football dynasty of all time in Alabama, but he led the Texans to the No. 1 offense in the NFL. As a rookie! The future is bright for the Texans and Watson because of how young the current core is.
Running back: Lamar Miller
Miller has neither impressed nor disappointed thus far, but I do believe he should impress.
Left End: Christian Covington
Christian Covington has never had the stats to back up how solid he really is. His career total in sacks is four and his career total in tackles is 31. But his size and ability to eat, block, and lead running backs to Watt and Clowney is extremely important to the defense.
Defensive Tackle: D.J. Reader
Reader has taken what he learned from Vince Wilfork well (how to time your jump off the line). one of the lone bright spots last year, Reader consistently dominates other centers and hopes going into this season he can improve on a career sack total of two.
Right End: J.J. Watt
When healthy (and that’s a big caveat), J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL. He’s an absolute lock for 10 sacks a season and although he may be physically declining due to injury, I still expect utter domination for No. 99.
Outside Linebacker: Whitney Mercilus
Whitney is easily the most versatile linebacker on Houston. His ability to rush the passer and cover tight ends and running backs is so helpful in zone rush plays when only Clowney and Watt are going after the QB. Expect more two-way versatility (rushing the passer and dropping back in coverage) from the “Mercilus” linebacker.
Inside Linebacker: Bernardrick McKinney
From a physical standpoint, there are very few linebackers with the athleticism of McKinney. But that hasn’t always translated to on-field success as he is very inconsistent technically. With the release of Brian Cushing, McKinney is now the de facto captain of the defense. Hopefully, he can become a little more consistent (not leaving his man open so many times)in pass coverage.
Inside Linebacker: Zach Cunningham
Cunningham had a fantastic rookie year with the Texans in 2017. He has all the potential to become a true sideline to sideline tackling machine. His ability to cover tight ends and running backs in man coverage is largely understated. In only his second year, expect him to have a big impact over the middle of the field.
Outside Linebacker: Jadeveon Clowney
Explosive. Nobody in the league is quicker off that defensive line than Clowney. Early in his career, he was injury prone and Texans fans were ready to declare him a bust. But now that he’s gotten past that, he’s one of the most dominant pass rushers in all of football. With him, J.J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus, the Texans have one of the nastiest pass rushes in the NFL.
Cornerback: Johnathan Joseph
JoJo may be up there in age (34 years old), but he still does his job at an exceptionally high level (15 pass breakups last year). He continues to be an elite zone coverage corner and his instincts are second to none. Joseph has shown no obvious signs of decline either, so he should be in store for another rock-solid season.
Cornerback: Aaron Colvin
The two biggest offseason signings for Houston were Tyrann “Honey badger” Mathieu and Aaron Colvin. Although Mathieu is a much bigger name, it was Colvin that got paid the big bucks this offseason and for good reason. As the nickel corner for Jacksonville last year, Aaron Colvin thrived off the pass rush “Sacksonville” provided. The same will be said for the Texans and Colvin.
Free Safety: Tyrann Mathieu
The most versatile safety in the NFL got cut by the Arizona Cardinals and decided to come to Houston. His desire to play in Houston (close to where he played college ball at LSU) with other passionate guys like Watt and Clowney puts the Texans defensive ceiling on a whole other level.
Strong Safety: Kareem Jackson
Changing positions from corner to safety won’t be as hard as a lot of fans say it will be. The real question is will Jackson’s production match what Andre Hal has given them the past couple of years. My personal bet is yes, as I’ve always thought Kareem would be a better safety than corner because of his superior tackling skills.