2023 NFL Offseason: Houston Texans

Houston Texans (Last Year: 3-13-1)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Case Keenum, RB Devin Singletary, RB Mike Boone, FB Andrew Beck, WR Robert Woods, WR Noah Brown, WR Steven Sims, TE Dalton Schultz, TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Greg “Mr. Reliable” Little, G Shaq Mason, C Michael Deiter, DT Sheldon Rankins, DT Hassan Ridgeway, LB Denzel Perryman, LB Cory Littleton, LB Jermaine Carter, CB Shaq Griffin, CB Darius Phillips, S Jimmie Ward.
Early Draft Picks:
QB C.J. Stroud, DE Will Anderson, C Juice Scruggs, WR Tank Dell, DE/OLB Dylan Horton, LB Henry To’o To’o. Texans Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Jeff Driskel, QB Kyle Allen, RB Royce Freeman, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Chris Moore, WR Phillip Dorsett, TE Jordan Akins, TE O.J. Howard, G A.J. Cann, G Justin McCrary, DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE/DT Rasheem Green, LB Blake Cashman, LB Neville Hewitt, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Tavierre Thomas, S Jonathan Owens.

2023 Houston Texans Offense:
For a while, it appeared as though the Texans were the dumbest franchise in the NFL. It was widely speculated that they would draft C.J. Stroud once it was apparent that the Panthers settled on Bryce Young atop the 2023 NFL Draft. However, rumors quickly circulated that Houston would eschew selecting Stroud in favor of a pass rusher. As it turned out, the scuttlebutt was complete nonsense because the Texans selected Stroud after all.

This was clearly the correct decision, as Stroud was a great quarterback prospect for a team that had a dire need at the position since Deshaun Watson experienced some off-the-field problems. Stroud is an outstanding passer who proved that he can beat the opposition with his legs, as evidenced by his brilliant performance against Georgia in the college football playoff semi-final. The days of using horrible quarterbacks like Davis Mills and Kyle Allen are finally finished.

Most rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle because those selected near the top of the draft often go to teams with poor blocking units. That’s not the case with Stroud playing for Houston. The Texans have a solid tackle tandem in Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard. Tunsil is one of the better blind-side protectors in the NFL, while Howard is a quality right tackle who, at 27, could continue to improve.

The Texans had poor interior blocking last year, but they made sure to improve that area this spring. They did that by obtaining Shaq Mason from the Buccaneers. Mason isn’t quite the same Pro Bowl guard he once was, but he’ll be a huge upgrade over what Houston had last year. The Texans will be hoping for a big improvement from their other guard, Kenyon Green, who endured a miserable rookie campaign despite being chosen in the opening round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Another young lineman, Juice Scruggs, is projected to be the starting center despite being a second-round rookie.

With a quality offensive line, Stroud will have enough time to consistently connect with his receivers. The problem is that last year’s No. 1 wideout, Brandin Cooks, was traded to Dallas. That leaves Stroud with the underwhelming quartet of Robert Woods, John Metchie, Nico Collins, and Tank Dell. Woods has struggled the past couple of years, but was coming off a torn ACL, so he could rebound. Metchie has talent, but had to battle with leukemia as a rookie. He has been a full participant in the offseason program. Dell is a rookie who was able to gel with Stroud during pre-draft workouts. There’s also Dalton Schultz, a talented tight end who was a great end zone threat for Dallas.

While the receiving corps is extremely underwhelming, Stroud will at least be able to lean on the running game. Dameon Pierce had an outstanding rookie campaign, rushing for 939 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games before suffering an ankle injury to close out the year.

2023 Houston Texans Defense:
While the correct decision was to select a quarterback at No. 2 overall, there was undoubtedly a segment of the Houston fan base that wanted the team to draft a pass rusher. The Texans allowed their supporters to have their cake and eat it, too, as they moved from No. 12 to 3 in order to select Will Anderson.

Anderson will be the dominant pass rusher the Texans have been searching for ever since losing J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Houston was below average when it came to generating pressure on the quarterback last year, so that aspect of their team has been upgraded in the wake of the Anderson selection. Anderson will start across from 35-year-old Jerry Hughes, who was able to record nine sacks this past season despite his advanced playing age.

While Anderson and Hughes will start on the edge, Sheldon Rankins and Maliek Collins project to be stationed in the interior. Rankins can perform well when healthy, but he has a very extensive injury history. Collins doesn’t have Rankins’ upside, but he’s more consistent and reliable.

The two Houston defensive tackles will need to remain on the field to give the team a good chance of stopping the run, which has been a huge problem for the team in recent years, as evidenced by Derrick Henry’s constant brilliant performances against the team. To help remedy this problem, the Texans signed Denzel Perryman, an outstanding linebacker when it comes to run support. Perryman will start in the middle of a linebacking corps also comprised of Cory Littleton and Christian Kirksey. Littleton and Kirskey were once considered solid linebackers, but they’ve both regressed considerably.

Speaking of regressing, that’s something that cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. has done since his amazing freshman campaign at LSU. Stingley, chosen ahead of Sauce Gardner in the 2022 NFL Draft, had a poor rookie campaign. He can obviously thrive because of his great athletic ability, but it could be argued that his constant injuries in college have sapped his ability. If Stingley can’t improve, the Texans will be able to lean on Steve Nelson and Shaq Griffin as their two primary cornerbacks. Nelson is as mediocre as they come, while Griffin is a solid corner who is coming off a down, injury-laden season.

Another Houston defensive back who has issues with injuries is newly signed safety Jimmie Ward. The former 49er is a terrific player when healthy, but he always misses time with injuries, having played just one full season in his career. He’ll start next to 2022 second-rounder Jalen Pitre, who is coming off a lackluster rookie campaign.

2023 Houston Texans Schedule and Intangibles:
Ka’imi Fairbairn had an amazing year, hitting 29-of-31 attempts, including a perfect 6-of-6 from 50-plus.

Cameron Johnston finished 10th in net punting last year. He was stellar at pinning teams inside the 20-yard line.

The Texans battle the NFC South and the other teams in their division, so they have one of the easier schedules in the NFL.

2023 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.

2023 Houston Texans Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 Houston Texans Analysis: The Texans have been one of the worst teams in the NFL over the past three years. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, as Houston is out of the NFL’s cellar. With a franchise quarterback and a potential elite edge rusher, Houston appears to be off to a good start in its rebuilding process.

Projection: 6-11 (Tied 2nd in AFC South)

2022 Projection: 2-15. 2022 Actual Result: 3-13-1.
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: A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: TThe Texans lost the ability to obtain the quarterback of their choosing because they won a meaningless game at the end of the season. They’re still able to select C.J. Stroud if they want, but because general manager Nick Caserio appears to be a sleeper agent for the Colts, it seems as though Houston will pass on a franchise signal-caller and allow Indianapolis to draft him. If the Texans were to take C.J. Stroud, they’d obviously want to add plenty of receiving talent around him, all while improving their woeful defense.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: For a while, the Texans looked to be the dumbest team in the NFL. I joked about Caserio being a sleeper agent working for the Colts and then the Titans, but even if that were true, Caserio proved to be a double-crosser. He betrayed his divisional opponents by fooling everyone, drafting Stroud after all, and then moving up for Will Anderson. Some will say that the Texans surrendered too much for a non-quarterback, yet they’d feel differently if Houston used the No. 2 pick on Anderson and then traded up for Stroud even though it would be the exact, same thing. The Texans had to do it in the Stroud-Anderson order to prevent another team from trading up to No. 3.

This wasn’t the only positive thing the Texans did during the 2023 NFL Draft, as they drafted some potential late-round gems. Henry To’o To’o was a steal in the fifth round, while the same could be said of Jarrett Patterson and Xavier Hutchinson in the sixth frame.

What I didn’t like, however, were some of the picks made on Day 2. I thought both Juice Scruggs and Tank Dell were major reaches, but at least they will potentially fill needs. The Texans could have secured an “A” draft had they made better choice at Nos. 62 and 69. Still, this was a strong haul for Houston.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

2. C.J. Stroud, QB, Texans – A+ Grade
Stock down to everyone who derailed the projection for this pick, but bravo to the Texans for actually making the right move. It appeared as though Houston was going to be the laughing stock of the NFL for passing on a franchise quarterback and handing him to one of their divisional rivals, but that’s apparently not the case. The Texans stole C.J. Stroud away from either the Colts or Titans.

3. Will Anderson, DE, Alabama – A+ Grade
Nick Caserio is not a sleeper agent for the Colts or Titans. If he pretended to be, then he double-crossed them! The Texans traded up from No. 12 to 3 to land what they think is the best defensive player in this class, and they could be correct. Will Anderson would have been a poor choice at No. 2 because that would have involved passing on a franchise quarterback, but getting Anderson and Stroud is unbelievable. Caserio for general manager of the year?

62. Juice Scruggs, C, Penn State – C- Grade
The Texans had to move up for a center and not a receiver? Really? Juice Scruggs isn’t even a great value here. I think he’s a solid prospect and fills a need, but I don’t get why Houston gave up a resource for him.

Tank Dell is built like anything but a tank. He’s very skinny, and he’s someone I had in the middle of the third day. Why the Texans traded up for him, I have absolutely no idea.

109. Dylan Horton, DE/OLB, TCU – B Grade
Dylan Horton had a great season last year as a dynamic pass rusher for TCU. The Texans needed someone to get after the quarterback, and Horton fits the range. This is a fine pick for a team that needed to revamp its defense.

167. Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama – A+ Grade
I can’t believe Henry To’o To’o lasted this long. He’s a very instinctive linebacker I had in the second or third round in my mocks. He fills a need and provides amazing value. I love this pick.

201. Jarrett Patterson, C, Notre Dame – A+ Grade
I had Jarrett Patterson in the third round, as he never surrendered a sack during his collegiate career. I don’t understand why he fell so far, but the Texans will benefit from the drop by filling a position of need.

205. Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State – A Grade
Xavier Hutchinson didn’t have a great pre-draft process, which caused him to drop into the sixth round. He’s still a quality route runner with solid hands, so he should have been chosen earlier than this. The receiver-starved Texans are getting a promising player.

248. Brandon Hill, S, Pittsburgh – C+ Grade
Brandon Hill is an undersized safety who struggles to tackle. I didn’t think he would be drafted, but we’re entering UDFA territory anyway.

Season Summary:
The Texans couldn’t do anything right last year, including lose. They beat the Colts in Week 18 to relinquish the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to Chicago. Now, the Texans need to hope that a team doesn’t trade up to snipe the quarterback they covet.

Offseason Moves:
  • Texans sign CB Shaq Griffin
  • Texans sign OT Greg “Mr. Reliable” Little
  • Texans sign CB Darius Phillips
  • Texans sign TE Eric Tomlinson
  • Texans sign WR Steven Sims
  • Texans sign LB Denzel Perryman
  • Texans sign LB Cory Littleton
  • Texans sign C Michael Deiter
  • Texans sign RB Devin Singletary
  • Texans sign TE Dalton Schultz
  • Cowboys acquire WR Brandin Cooks from Texans for draft picks
  • Texans sign DT Sheldon Rankins
  • Texans sign WR Noah Brown
  • Texans acquire G Shaq Mason from Buccaneers for pick swap
  • Texans sign S Jimmie Ward
  • Texans sign DT Hassan Ridgeway
  • Texans sign DE Chase Winovich
  • Texans sign RB Mike Boone
  • Texans sign QB Case Keenum
  • Texans sign FB Andrew Beck
  • Texans sign WR Robert Woods

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Deshaun Watson will finally be replaced. The Texans will select the quarterback the team drafting No. 1 overall doesn’t take. Signed Case Keenum

    2. Two Wide Receivers: Davis Mills struggled last year, but he never had a chance with his receiving corps. The Texans need two new receivers. Signed Robert Woods and Noah Brown

    3. Center: Houston’s center situation has been disastrous since losing Ben Jones. The team should obtain an upgrade for its new quarterback. Signed Michael Deiter

    4. Two Defensive Tackles: The Texans are infamous for being terrible against the run. It’s time that they fix that problem. Signed Sheldon Rankins and Hassan Ridgeway

    5. Right Tackle/Guard: Another offensive lineman will be needed, depending on where Houston wants to use Tytus Howard. Traded for Shaq Mason

    6. Edge Rusher: The Texans were 21st in pressure rate last year, so they need to find better players to get after the quarterback. Signed Chase Winovich

    7. Linebacker: More help is needed in the middle of Houston’s defense. Signed Denzel Perryman and Cory Littleton

    8. Tight End: The Texans need to get better at tight end as well. Signed Dalton Schultz and Eric Tomlinson

    9. Safety: Jalen Pitre showed potential as a rookie, but the Texans need a better starter next to him. Signed Jimmie Ward

    10. Punter: Cameron Johnston was in the bottom 10 of punting last year.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys. Age: 27.
      Signed with Texans (1 year, $9 million)

      Dalton Schultz is a talented receiving threat at tight end. He’s coming off a down year, but he caught 78 passes in 2021.

    2. Shaq Griffin, CB, Jaguars. Age: 28.
      Signed with Texans

      Shaq Griffin is coming off a down year because of a back injury, but he was a solid cornerback beforehand. He’s young enough to rebound.

    3. Denzel Perryman, LB, Raiders. Age: 30.
      Signed with Texans

      Denzel Perryman isn’t very good in coverage, but he’s terrific when it comes to playing in run support. The Raiders were always much worse versus the run when he was out of the lineup.

    4. Robert Woods, WR, Titans. Age: 31.
      Signed with Texans (2 years, $15.3 million)

      It’s very odd that the Titans would obtain Robert Woods when he was coming off a torn ACL, then cut him when he’s expected to have a bounce-back season. Woods should have a solid 2023 campaign.

    5. Devin Singletary, RB, Bills. Age: 25.
      Signed with Texans (1 year, $3.75 million)

      Devin Singletary is an underrated runner, but Buffalo’s coaches have never trusted him to handle the entire workload.

    6. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Jets. Age: 29.
      Signed with Texans (1 year, $10.5 million)

      Sheldon Rankins has a dubious injury history, but he performed well in all regards last year.

    7. Case Keenum, QB, Bills. Age: 35.
      Signed with Texans (2 years)

      Case Keenum is five years removed from quarterbacking a team to the NFC Championship. He’s an elite backup and a fine spot starter.

    8. Hassan Ridgeway, DT, 49ers. Age: 28. — Signed with Texans
    9. Noah Brown, WR, Cowboys. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    10. Cory Littleton, LB, Panthers. Age: 29. — Signed with Texans (1 year)
    11. Mike Boone, RB, Broncos. Age: 28. — Signed with Texans
    12. Andrew Beck, FB, Broncos. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    13. Chase Winovich, DE, Browns. Age: 28. — Signed with Texans
    14. Eric Tomlinson, TE, Broncos. Age: 31. — Signed with Texans
    15. Greg “Mr. Reliable” Little, OT, Dolphins. Age: 25. — Signed with Texans
    16. Byron Cowart, DT, Colts. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    17. Michael Deiter, C, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Signed with Texans
    18. Darius Phillips, CB, Broncos. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans

    Houston Texans Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. A.J. Cann, G, Texans. Age: 31.
    2. Jordan Akins, TE, Texans. Age: 31. — Signed with Browns
    3. Tavierre Thomas, CB, Texans. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Texans
    4. Jonathan Owens, S, Texans. Age: 28.
    5. Chris Moore, WR, Texans. Age: 30. — Signed with Titans
    6. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE/OLB, Texans. Age: 28. — Signed with Browns
    7. Rasheem Green, DE/DT, Texans. Age: 26. — Signed with Bears
    8. Royce Freeman, RB, Texans. Age: 27.
    9. Phillip Dorsett, WR, Texans. Age: 30. — Signed with Raiders
    10. O.J. Howard, TE, Texans. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders
    11. Jeff Driskel, QB, Texans. Age: 30. — Signed with Cardinals
    12. Justin McCrary, G, Texans. Age: 31.
    13. Rex Burkhead, RB, Texans. Age: 33.
    14. Blake Cashman, LB, Texans. Age: 27.
    15. Neville Hewitt, LB, Texans. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Texans
    16. Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Texans. Age: 31.
    17. Kyle Allen, QB, Texans. Age: 27. — Signed with Bills
    18. Tyler Stallworth, DT, Texans. Age: 28.
    19. Mario Addison, DE, Texans. Age: 35.

    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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