The Houston Texans 2017 season is long over, but now it is time to look to the future and see what the Texans can do over the offseason to improve, make playoffs, and win a Super Bowl. There are many areas the Texans need to fix in order to be a competitive team, so this article will be separated into the specific position groups that need improvement.
Largest Need: Upgrade Offensive Line
The Texans offensive line is one of the worst, if not the worst, offensive lines in football. Not one player on the offensive line is top 20 in their position, which means the entire unit needs a major upgrade.
The first course of action that must be taken is letting tackles Chris Clark and Bruno Giacomini hit free agency and never look back. Both of these players are some of the worst offensive lineman in football and must be taken off the team.
Once free agency hits, the Texans will have lots of money to spend, as they will be $59,469,614 below the salary cap. With all of this money, the Texans must aggressively target at least two good or elite offensive lineman. Two players that would work wonders are center John Sullivan and guard Andrew Norwell. Both of these lineman are premier players at their position, Sullivan being the 11th best center in football and Norwell being the fourth best guard according to Pro Football Focus, and would only cost around 10-15 million dollars apiece. Signing multiple offensive lineman in free agency is something the Texans can afford, and something they must do.
In addition to signing offensive lineman, specifically a guard and center, the Texans can look towards the 2018 NFL Draft to upgrade at the tackle position. With an early third round pick, the Texans will be able to draft offensive tackles like Jamarco Jones, Mitch Hyatt, or Kolton Miller.
Ohio State offensive tackle Jamarco Jones is a prospect because his long arms, large size, and ability to quickly change direction, which will be a perfect complement to mobile quarterback Deshaun Watson. This quickness is also a trait shared by Clemson tackle Mitch Hyatt.
Another interesting prospect is UCLA tackle Kolton Miller. Miller is a 6’7″, 280 pound, monster who is known for his pass blocking and ability to overpower defenders with his strength. According to Pro Football Focus, Miller held the 10th best pass blocking efficiency ranking out of 121 qualified tackles.
Secondary Need: The Secondary
Besides Jonathan Joseph, the Texans cornerbacks have been routinely burned for touchdowns, and are some of the worst at their position. The first move that Texans general manager Rick Smith must make is to extend Jonathan Joseph. Despite being 33 years old, Joseph is the only good corner on the Texans, won’t be much of a cap hit, and deserves to finish out his career with the Texans after being on the team since 2011.
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With Jonathan Joseph extended, the Texans can look for a corner in free agency, specifically Rashaan Melvin. Melvin is the 19th ranked corner in football according to Pro Football Focus, and has been a revelation on the Indianapolis Colts. Signing Melvin would finally solve the problem of every corner on the Texans not named Jonathan Joseph being complete garbage. Best of all, the signing would only expected to be around $10,000,000 cap hit, still keeping the Texans well below the salary cap: even if they also sign John Sullivan and Andrew Norwell.
Once they’ve signed Melvin or another good cornerback, the Texans will draft two defensive backs with their late third round and early fourth round picks. Corners that can be targeted are Siran Neal, Jordan Wyatt, or Tony Brown.
Alabama corner Tony Brown would specifically be a great addition to the Texans because of his overall athleticism, ability to find the football, and extreme quickness. Brown was even a track star in high school, and won the state title in 110-meter hurdles. Furthermore, his hometown of Beaumont, Texas is only an hour away from Houston.
The other need in the secondary is safety because Marcus Gilchrist is a mediocre safety who needs to be replaced ASAP.
As you can guess, the first move the Texans must make is to allow Gilchrist to hit free agency. Once that has occurred, the Texans can use their late third round or early fourth round 2018 draft pick on players such as Jordan Whitehead.
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Whitehead is a safety out of Pittsburgh who is known for play recognition and rarely being fooled by the offense. He’s also a force on man coverage. In addition his size, coupled with the aforementioned play recognition, could make him a force at free safety. Other players that could be targeted are Damon Webb and Marcus Allen.
Upgrade at Slot Receiver
Braxton Miller currently isn’t cutting it at the slot, ranked as the 94th best wide receiver in football according to Pro Football Focus. Because of Miller’s inefficiency, the Texans should target Jordan Matthews in free agency.
A slot receiver by trade, Matthews has shown success during his first three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. And luckily for the Texans, he had a down year with the Buffalo Bills right before hitting free agency; meaning he probably won’t cost much more than his current $1,094,900 salary.
Extend Shane Lechler
Even though this is typically an afterthought, Lechler is one of the best punters in football and must be extended immediately.
Despite the Texan’s 2017 season being a complete failure, the future possibilities for this team are boundless.