2011 NFL Draft | Houston Texans Team Needs
The Houston Texans, after years of waiting to be invited to the playoff party, finally appeared poised to show up at the door this year after starting the season 4-2.
However, they went on to drop eight of their final 10 games, finishing 6-10, good for third place in the AFC South.
The offense continued to be one of the league’s most productive units, but the defense ranked 30th in the league, including 32nd against the pass.
Defensive coordinator Frank Bush was promptly canned following the end of the season and replaced with Wade Phillips.
With Houston switching from a 43 to a 34 scheme, what areas do they need to address in the draft?
Biggest Needs: WR, TE
As mentioned above, the Texans’ offense was fine this season.
Former undrafted free agent Arian Foster emerged as one of the league’s premier backs, rushing for an NFL-leading 1,616 yards.
Despite nagging injuries to Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, the passing game ranked fourth in the league in terms of yardage per game. Still, though, Houston could use a true No. 2 receiver to play opposite Johnson.
Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones are serviceable players, but neither is what you’d call a true No. 2 threat. Because there are so many holes on the defense, I’d expect Houston to either wait until the very late rounds to address the position, or try to attract a free agent.
Daniels is a free agent, but his recent injury troubles may hinder his value on the open market. If the Texans opt against bringing him back, they still have Joel Dreessen, James Casey and Garrett Graham to fill the void. I doubt the Texans spend a pick on a tight end.
Biggest Needs: DT, S, CB, LB
The Texans need all sorts of help here.
Phillips is reportedly fond of Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell as potential nose tackles, but neither is the ideal big, fat guy you’d expect to fill the position. Baylor’s Phil Taylor and Temple’s Muhammed Wilkerson are likely the two most realistic pure NTs in this class for the Texans.
Strong safety Bernard Pollard will be a free agent, and Houston doesn’t seem likely to bring him back. Eugene Wilson, the free safety, struggled when healthy last season. North Carolina’s Deunta Williams, Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel, West Virginia’s Robert Sands and Florida’s Will Hill are likely the strongest in a relatively weak safety class.
They spent their first-round pick last season on Alabama’s Kareem Jackson, who looked completely overwhelmed all season long. While he was just a rookie, it’s tough to tell if the coaching staff, which likely has to get the team to the playoffs next season in order to remain employed, is comfortable going into the season with him as a starter.
Glover Quin showed flashes of being a potentially productive corner, but if the Texans are able to bring in a few better players at the position, it’s possible that they move him over to safety. Because the top two corners in this class (Peterson and Amukamara) are probably gone by the time Houston picks at No. 11, it seems like they’ll have to use a third- or fourth-rounder to address the corner. Rashad Carmichael, Ras-I Dowling, Jeron Johnson and Davon House can be had in the later rounds.
Because they will be making the switch to the 34, the Texans need to find themselves a speedy, pass-rushing outside linebacker. DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing will play in the middle with Connor Barwin lining up outside. Texas A&M’s Von Miller has been linked to the Texans with the 11th pick, and his draft stock is on the rise. Other potential 34 OLB candidates are Justin Houston, Robert Quinn and Jabaal Sheard.