The Houston Texans are ranked at No. 6 in Rant Sports’ off-season edition of the NFL power rankings, a collaborative effort amongst several NFL columnists here at RantSports.com.
It just so happens, that is exactly where I ranked the Texans based off several factors that included current coaching staff, starters, depth at every position, additions through free agency, the 2012 NFL Draft, undrafted rookies currently signed with the team, schedule, and lastly loss of players from last year’s roster.
The Texans won the AFC South and went to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a third-string, fifth round draft pick rookie QB. The losses of Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryan would ordinarily hurt a defense ranked number one overall in the NFL, but Williams played in only five games in 2011 and Ryan wasn’t an every down LB that fit in a 3-4 scheme. In free agency they signed ILB Bradie James formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, and drafted OLB Whitney Mercilus (first round, Illinois) and DT Jared Crick (fourth round, Nebraska) adding depth to an already elite defensive front seven.
The backfield, which already has one of the best one-two punches in Arian Foster and Ben Tate, added Justin Forsett after a workout last month. In four NFL seasons, Forsett has amassed 1,287 yards on 278 attempts and 97 receptions for 730 yards for the Seattle Seahawks. Last season, Forsett’s numbers declined (145 yards on 46 carries) due in large part to Marshawn Lynch’s monster season as the feature back in The Emerald City. But Forsett comes to Houston with quite an upside: he is familiar with a Zone Blocking System from playing at both California and for the Seahawks. Houston also signed undrafted free agent running backs Jonathan Grimes (William & Mary), Davin Meggett (Maryland), and Jason Ford (Illinois) – who will play at fullback for the Texans.
If the defending AFC South Champs run into quarterback injuries again they will be more prepared this season, signing John Beck who played in nine total games in five seasons (2007-08 Miami Dolphins, 2009 Baltimore Ravens, 2009-10 Washington Redskins) and undrafted rookie Case Keenum (Houston). Both QBs are fighting for the number three spot behind Matt Schaub and TJ Yates.
One of the most productive units in the league the last few seasons has been the Texans offensive line. The losses of Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel weakened the right side and the team addressed the issue with rookies. The team used three of their eight draft picks on offensive linemen OG Brandon Brooks (third round, Miami OH), C/OG Ben Jones (fourth round, Georgia), and OT Nick Mondek (sixth round, Purdue) and signed two undrafted players OT/G Cody White (Illinois State) and OT Nathan Menkin (Mary Hardin-Baylor). With a plethora of youth waiting in the wings, the offensive line should be back to top form in no time.
The biggest worry for the Texans? The receivers. Of the 11 listed on their roster (including Dwight Jones whose status at this time is unclear) only two have caught an NFL pass – Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. If this year’s draft picks DeVier Posey (third round, Ohio State) and Keshawn Martin (fourth round, Michigan State) pan out, the Texans will repeat as Division Champions.
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