The Houston Texans got to the divisional round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs even without starting quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub is back so the Texans could be better with Matt Schaub starting instead of TJ Yates.
Free Agency Recap
Houston dealt DeMeco Ryans to the Philadelphia Eagles. Bradie James a free agent signing from Dallas, Tim Dobbins, and Darryl Sharpton a 2010 4th round pick will compete for the Texans 3-4 middle linebacker job. Expect Houston to address most of their needs in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Rashad Butler was asked to replace Eric Winston at Miami FL in 2004. Now history repeats itself 8 years later as Eric Winston leaves to join the Kansas City City Chiefs. Butler will have to fill in for Winston at right tackle.
2012 NFL Draft Needs
Secondary Wide Receiver Both Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones have the talent to play slot receiver on the inside. Neither is equipped for a secondary wide receiver role. Houston will probably use the 26th pick on Rueben Randle or Stephen Hill.
Nose Tackle Houston needs a new starting nose tackle. Josh Chapman a 3-4 nose tackle from Alabama is someone Houston could add in the 2nd round.
Strong Safety Glover Quinn needs to move from strong safety to dime cornerback. Houston has a glaring need at dime cornerback behind Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and Brandon Harris on the depth chart due the loss of dime cornerback Jason Allen. Shilo Keo is a backup strong safety. Houston would love to find a sure fire starter at safety. The Texans may not be in a position to address this need. I could see George Iloka being a player the Texans target in round 3.
Right Tackle Depth The Texans can add a right tackle for depth with the day 3 pick that they got from the Eagles via Tampa Bay at the top of round 4.
Right Guard Depth The Texans need a right guard for depth behind Antoine Caldwell. Shelley Smith has no business starting. Caldwell lost the starting job at right guard to Mike Brisiel in Texans training camp last year. The Oakland Raiders overpaid for Mike Brisiel.
3-4 Outside Linebacker Depth The Texans need a 3-4 outside linebacker for depth behind Connor Barwin and Brooks Reid. The Texans did lose Mario Williams who had a huge presence on the Texans defense. Replacing Williams will be no easy feat. Houston needs one pass rusher for depth. I’m not ruling out the possibility of Houston obtaining multiple pass rushers on defense.
Kicker The Texans need a kicker to replace Neil Rackers. Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock and Georgia kicker Blair Walsh are late round options.
Reserve Tight End Jurell Casey moved to fullback a while ago after being drafted as a tight end coming out of Rice. Casey is just an H Back at this point who will be used as a blocking tight end in a fullback role.
Houston has Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham a Wisconsin tight end as a #2 tight end. Graham was a 4th round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. I feel like Graham can be another breakout player for the Texans with 2 years of development.
Third String Quarterback Houston only has 2 quarterbacks on their depth chart with Schaub and Yates. It would not hurt to bring one more on the roster with a late round pick.
2012 Houston Texans Draft Strategy
Houston can go wide receiver, nose tackle, strong safety, right tackle, and right guard with those first 5 picks. Houston can use the remaining picks to address their final needs in the late rounds.
Playoffs or No Playoffs? No Playoffs Houston has a lot of talent and is an overwhelming pick to win the AFC South once again. The Texans have to be the favorite at this point with their talent. I believe Houston fails to address all of their draft needs when Houston’s draft ends.
Tennessee has the best offense in the AFC South if everyone stays healthy. I really believe the Tennessee Titans are a 7 win team with Hasselbeck starting and an 11 win team that loses on wild card weekend with Jake Locker leading the team.
I think Locker rallies the Titans in year 2 and the Titans take the AFC South. Another thing to consider is how well the Titans defense plays. The Titans have drafted some great players on defense. This is the year those players take the next step or the Titans have to start from scratch rebuilding the defense.
The Titans quarterback competition along with how the Colts play in the 2nd half of the season will go a long way in determining who gets the AFC South because the Indianapolis Colts have an winnable schedule after the opening game against the Chicago Bears.