2022 NFL Offseason: Houston Texans

Houston Texans (Last Year: 4-13)

2022 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Kyle Allen, RB Dare Ogunbowale, WR Chad Beebe, G A.J. Cann, C Scott Quessenberry, DE Jerry Hughes, DE Mario Addison, DE/OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB Blake Cashman, S M.J. Stewart.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Derek Stingley, G Kenyon Green, S Jalen Pitre, WR John Metchie, LB Christian Harris, RB Dameon Pierce, DE Thomas Booker, TE Teagan Quitoriano. Texans Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Deshaun Watson, OT Marcus Cannon, OT Geron Christian, G Lane Taylor, DT DeMarcus Walker, OLB Jacob Martin, S Justin Reid, S Lonnie Johnson.

2022 Houston Texans Offense:
The Texans were in position to select any of the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft on numerous occasions, but they opted to eschew the position entirely. They’ve decided to give Davis Mills a chance in 2022, likely keeping in mind that the 2023 NFL Draft class is stacked at quarterback.

Mills is an underwhelming starting quarterback, to say the least. He’s accurate – he completed 66.8 percent of his passes as a rookie – but he possesses a noodle arm and can’t threaten the defense all over the field. He’ll also have a questionable receiving corps at his disposal, save for Brandin Cooks. Though he’s a journeyman at this stage of his career, Cooks had a great 2021 campaign, catching 90 passes for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns. Cooks has a dubious concussion history, but he’s missed just two games in the past couple of years. There’s not much around Cooks unless second-round rookie John Metchie recovers quickly from his torn ACL, which seems unlikely. Otherwise, it’s Nico Collins, Chris Conley, and tight end Brevin Jordan. The latter has some potential, but Mills’ supporting cast is largely lackluster.

The running game might be in worse shape. Rex Burkhead was the lead back last year, which may still be the case in 2022. However, the Texans signed Marlon Mack and drafted Dameon Pierce in the fourth round, so one of them may take over as the starter. Mack is the favorite to lead the team in carries, but the Colts thought so little of him last year that they didn’t keep him active after Week 8.

The offensive line seems to be the best aspect of Houston’s roster, which was hardly the case a few years ago. The left side of the front is set for now, as Laremy Tunsil and first-round rookie Kenyon Green will shield Mills’ blind side. Tunsil could be traded soon, however, so Mills shouldn’t get too comfortable. Green, at least, will be around for a while.

The rest of the offensive line isn’t great. Center Justin Britt is just mediocre, while right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Tytus Howard are both pedestrian players. Perhaps 2020 fourth-round pick Charlie Heck can challenge for a starting job after playing frequently late in 2021.

2022 Houston Texans Defense:
The Texans could have spent their No. 3 overall pick on an offensive lineman, but they opted instead to select Derek Stingley. The LSU cornerback is extremely physically gifted and talented, but he had trouble staying healthy at LSU in his final two seasons. If he can turn his injury luck around, he’ll provide a much-needed boost for Houston in the secondary.

Stingley will be needed to perform well; otherwise, the Texans won’t be able to defend aerial attacks at all this year. Aside from Stingley, the Texans’ top outside cornerbacks are Steven Nelson and Desmond King, which does not bode well for Houston. Nelson is just a mediocre player, while King is out of place on the outside. King could move into the slot, where he’s more comfortable. It’s assumed this will happen if Stingley remains healthy. King will compete with Tavierre Thomas, who performed above expectations last year after struggling earlier in his career.

Things are worse at safety. The duo of Eric Murray and second-round rookie Jalen Pitre are expected to start at the position. Pitre has plenty of upside, but is obviously an unknown at the moment. Murray is a poor player and should not be a starter for any team in the NFL.

Houston’s secondary will need a strong pass rush to assist it, especially if Stingley struggles to stay healthy. This seems like the strength of the Texans’ defense, though that’s not saying very much. Jonathan Greenard is coming off a great year as the Texans’ top edge rusher, logging eight sacks in 12 games. He’s only 25, so he could continue to improve. The bookend is Jerry Hughes, who had a great nine-year run with the Bills. Hughes was once a stellar edge rusher, but he’s not the same player as he once was now that he’s in his mid-30s. He may have one quality season remaining in the tank.

Aside from Greenard, Houston’s best defensive lineman is Maliek Collins, who is a well-rounded interior player. He’s pretty much all the Texans have at the position, as the other projected starter, Ross Blacklock, is a pedestrian player. Fifth-round rookie Thomas Booker may compete for playing time.

Things aren’t much better at linebacker. Christian Kirksey and Kamu Grugier-Hill will handle most of the snaps at the position, which doesn’t bode well for Houston’s defense because both missed plenty of tackles in 2021. The coaching staff will be hoping that third-round rookie Christian Harris develops quickly and overtakes one of them.

2022 Houston Texans Schedule and Intangibles:
Ka’imi Fairbairn was 27-of-31 in 2020, including 4-of-6 from 50-plus. He missed some action last year, which is why he was just 15-of-19.

Cameron Johnston finished 14th in net punting average in 2020 and 13th in 2021. It’s safe to say that he’s an average punter.

The Colts scored a return touchdown last year. They didn’t surrender one.

The Texans battle the NFC East, as well as the Bears, Jets and Jaguars twice, so they have some winnable games on their schedule.

2022 Houston Texans Rookies:
Go here for the Texans Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2022 Houston Texans Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2022 Houston Texans Analysis: The Texans won four games last year, despite the zero predicted victories in this space. However, two of those wins came against the Jaguars, who will be much better this year by default. Houston, conversely, will be the same or worse, so it’ll be difficult for the team to exceed, or even match, the four wins it obtained in 2021.

Projection: 2-15 (4th in AFC South)

2021 Projection: 0-17. 2021 Actual Result: 4-12.
2020 Projection: 7-9. 2020 Actual Result: 4-12.
2019 Projection: 8-8. 2019 Actual Result: 10-6.
2018 Projection: 12-4. 2018 Actual Result: 11-5.
2017 Projection: 8-8. 2017 Actual Result: 4-12.
2016 Projection: 11-5. 2016 Actual Result: 9-7.

NFL Draft Team Grade: C- Grade

Goals Entering the 2022 NFL Draft: The Texans are the worst team in the NFL. They have holes at every position, so they must select the best player available at every choice. This means quarterback as well, though Houston seems willing to wait until 2023 NFL Draft to address the position.

2022 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Houston had a choice to make to begin the draft. They could either select Derek Stingley and then use its second opening-round choice on a tackle, or it could pick one of Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal, and then go after a cornerback at No. 13. They opted for the former even though Lovie Smith’s defenses don’t call for premium selections to be used on cornerbacks. As a result, the Texans got caught with their pants down when the top blockers were off the board. They had to settle for a guard in Kenyon Green at No. 15, and that was definitely a reach. Trent McDuffie would’ve been a great option had Houston picked a tackle initially.

This wasn’t the only time the Texans violated their goal of drafting the best available player. They also reached for both second-round picks, Jalen Pitre and John Metchie. Even worse, they traded up for Metchie, believing they had to leap the Ravens to obtain him. Perhaps this would’ve been the case during the Ozzie Newsome era, but Newsome is not the general manager of the Ravens anymore. It doesn’t seem as though Houston’s brass ever got the memo.

I liked some of the Texans’ picks like Christian Harris and Dameon Pierce, but in the end, this haul wasn’t enough to strengthen their roster very much. They’re still the worst team in the NFL, though with all the holes they had on the roster, I’m not sure how much upward mobility they had in the short term anyway.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

3. Derek Stingley, CB, LSU – B+ Grade
I’m surprised the Texans are drafting a cornerback this early because the Buccaneers and Bears never drafted cornerbacks early when Lovie Smith was coaching them. Cornerbacks never call for a premium draft pick in Smith’s system. However, I can understand why the Texans wouldn’t pass on Stingley. He’s an amazing cornerback who looked like a generational player in his first season at LSU. He has been injured since, so there’s some major risk here, but the upside is through the roof. Though I didn’t have this pick in my mock draft, I certainly won’t criticize it because I think it’s a good selection.

15. Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M – D Grade
At least the Texans moved back. This is pretty bad though. Kenyon Green is a guard who should have gone in the 24-40 range, so this is a reach. I wonder if the Texans don’t already regret not picking a tackle at three and then a cornerback like Trent McDuffie at No. 18. As usual, the Texans have no idea what they are doing.

37. Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor – B- Grade
The Texans addressed the secondary yet again, which isn’t a surprise because they had such a need in that area. Jalen Pitre is a solid pick here, as I thought he would possibly go in the middle of the second frame. He had a solid combine, and that really helped his draft stock.

44. John Metchie, WR, Alabama – D Grade
I like John Metchie just fine, but he should have gone about a round later than this. He’s an injured receiver, yet didn’t drop at all for some reason because this may have been his natural range. I don’t know why the Texans traded up for him with some talented receivers still on the board. It’s a typical Houston maneuver to not understand draft value at all.

75. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama – A- Grade
I could tell you that the Texans needed linebacker help, but the Texans need help everywhere. Their roster is barren, so just adding the best player available at every spot made sense. Christian Harris could qualify if Nakobe Dean is ignored. Harris is someone I’ve mocked in the second round, so I like this value.

107. Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida – A- Grade
The Texans needed a running back, and the Jets stole Breece Hall from them in the second round. Dameon Pierce, a tough runner, is a nice consolation prize here in the fourth round. I thought he’d go a round earlier, so I like this pick.

150. Thomas Booker, DE, Stanford – B+ Grade
This is a solid pick, as I had Thomas Booker in this area. Booker is a versatile defensive lineman who can play in any scheme. The Texans needed help up front, but then again, they need help everywhere.

170. Teagan Quitoriano, TE, Oregon State – D Grade
I never had Teagan Quitoriano on my radar at all. He’s just a blocking tight end, which can be found anywhere. This seems like a pick that could easily have been made in the seventh round.

205. Austin Deculus, OT/G, LSU – A- Grade
It’s no surprise that the Texans are addressing their offensive line again. They’re getting a solid third-day prospect I had in the fifth round. Austin Deculus is a versatile player who can be used at tackle or guard.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
Houston’s season was doomed from the start because of the Deshaun Watson drama. It was surprising that the team didn’t finish with the worst record in the NFL.

Offseason Moves:
  • Texans sign DE Jerry Hughes
  • Texans sign DE Mario Addison
  • Chiefs acquire S Lonnie Johnson from Texans
  • Texans sign CB Steven Nelson
  • Texans sign RB Marlon Mack
  • Texans sign WR DaeSean Hamilton
  • Browns acquire QB Deshaun Watson from Texans for draft picks
  • Texans sign LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  • Texans sign C Scott Quessenberry
  • Texans sign RB Dare Ogunbowale
  • Texans acquire LB Blake Cashman for draft pick
  • Texans sign QB Kyle Allen
  • Texans sign DE/OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
  • Texans sign S M.J. Stewart
  • Texans sign G A.J. Cann

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: The Texans will give Davis Mills one more chance, but he’s not the long-term answer. Signed Kyle Allen

    2. Three Interior Offensive Linemen: Even if the Texans find a better quarterback, it won’t matter because they can’t protect him at the moment. The Texans have talented tackles in Laremy Tunsil and Marcus Cannon, but the interior of the offensive line is in shambles. Re-signed Justin Britt; signed A.J. Cann

    3. Running Back: Rex Burkhead had a great performance against the Chargers late in the year, but a better running back is needed. Signed Marlon Mack and Dare Ogunbowale

    4. Two Defensive Tackles: The Texans had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL last season. Finding better defensive tackles would help fix this problem. Re-signed Maliek Collins

    5. Three Cornerbacks: A pair of cornerbacks are needed as well (three if Desmond King isn’t re-signed.) Houston was miserable against the pass as well. Re-signed Desmond King; signed Steven Nelson

    6. Two Inside Linebackers: Houston can continue to fix the interior of its defense. The linebacking corps is horrible. Signed Jalen Reeves-Maybin; traded for Blake Cashman

    7. Wide Receiver: Brandin Cooks was once again productive last season, but he was the only viable receiver on the roster. Signed DaeSean Hamilton

    8. Safety: Justin Reid must be re-signed. A replacement will be needed if he’s not. Signed M.J. Stewart

    9. Edge Rusher: Houston has some mediocre edge rushers, but a top threat is needed. That could end up being Aidan Hutchinson. Signed Mario Addison and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2022 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Maliek Collins, DT, Texans. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Texans (2 years, $17 million)

      Maliek Collins has been a quality rotational interior pass rusher in recent years.

    2. Steven Nelson, CB, Eagles. Age: 29.
      Signed with Texans (2 years, $10 million)

      Steven Nelson didn’t play as well for the Eagles as he did for the Steelers, likely because Philadelphia didn’t have the same dynamic pass rush. Nelson is a serviceable starting cornerback, but Philadelphia will want better play from the position.

    3. Mario Addison, DE, Bills. Age: 34.
      Signed with Texans

      Mario Addison was productive despite his age last year, recording seven sacks while being in a heavy rotation.

    4. Jerry Hughes, DE, Bills. Age: 34.
      Signed with Texans

      Jerry Hughes has seen his production slip as he’s entered his mid-30s. He had just two sacks in 2021. However, that number is misleading, given how much pressure he applied when on the field.

    5. Kyle Allen, QB, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Texans (1 year, $2.5 million)

      Kyle Allen did well in relief of Cam Newton in 2019, throwing for 3,322 yards and completing 62 percent of his passes. He’s only 26.

    6. Ogbonnia Okokonkwo, DE/OLB, Rams. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    7. A.J. Cann, G, Jaguars. Age: 30. — Signed with Texans
    8. M.J. Stewart, S, Browns. Age: 26. — Signed with Texans
    9. Chad Beebe, WR, Vikings. Age: 28. — Signed with Texans
    10. Scott Quessenberry, C, Chargers. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    11. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Lions. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans (2 years, $7.5 million)
    12. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Broncos. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    13. Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Jaguars. Age: 28. — Signed with Texans
    14. Darrell Daniels, TE, Cardinals. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans

    Houston Texans Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Justin Reid, S, Texans. Age: 25.
      Signed with Chiefs (3 years, $31.5 million)

      Justin Reid tends to be one of the top safeties in the NFL, though he’s coming off an unusual down year. He’ll certainly rebound, and he’s only 25 to boot.

    2. Desmond King, CB/S, Texans. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Texans (2 years, $7 million)

      Desmond King is a quality defensive back capable of playing outside or in the slot, and he can also play safety.

    3. Justin Britt, C, Texans. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with Texans (2 years, $9 million)

      Justin Britt is a solid run-blocking center, but has issues in pass protection.

    4. Maliek Collins, DT, Texans. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Texans (2 years, $17 million)

      Maliek Collins has been a quality rotational interior pass rusher in recent years.

    5. Jacob Martin, OLB, Texans. Age: 26.
      Signed with Jets (3 years)

      Jacob Martin has improved his pass-rushing ability, notching four sacks in 2021. He’s only 26, so there’s still room for growth.

    6. Lane Taylor, G, Texans. Age: 32.
      Lane Taylor was a great lineman for the Packers, but he tore his ACL in 2020 and did not look like a functional blocker for Houston. He could rebound with another year removed from his injury.

    7. Marcus Cannon, OT, Texans. Age: 34.
      Marcus Cannon was once known as a very gifted tackle, but he has played just four games in the past two seasons. Now 34, Cannon probably isn’t the same player.

    8. Geron Christian, OT, Texans. Age: 25. — Signed with Chiefs
    9. DeMarcus Walker, DE/DT, Texans. Age: 27.
    10. Eric Wilson, LB, Texans. Age: 27.
    11. David Johnson, RB, Texans. Age: 30.
    12. Royce Freeman, RB, Texans. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Texans
    13. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Texans. Age: 33. — Signed with Giants (2 years, $17 million)
    14. Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB, Texans. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Texans (1 year, $4 million)
    15. Terrance Mitchell, CB, Texans. Age: 30. — Signed with Patriots
    16. Jordan Akins, TE, Texans. Age: 30. — Signed with Giants (1 year)
    17. Danny Amendola, WR, Texans. Age: 36.
    18. Pharaoh Brown, TE, Texans. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Texans (1 year, $4 million)
    19. Neville Hewitt, LB, Texans. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Texans
    20. Vincent Taylor, DT, Texans. Age: 28. — Signed with Falcons

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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