2024 NFL Season Preview: Houston Texans

C.J. Stroud

Houston Texans (Last Year: 10-7)

Season Summary:
The Texans were perhaps a year ahead of schedule where everyone expected them to be with a rookie quarterback and head coach combo. Nevertheless, they ended up winning their division and upsetting the Browns in the opening round of the playoffs. They eventually lost to the Ravens, but there’s no doubt that the future is bright in Houston.

2024 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Joe Mixon, WR Stefon Diggs, DE Danielle Hunter, DT Folo Fatukasi, DT Denico Autry, DT Mario Edwards, DT Tim Settle, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, CB Jeff Okudah, CB Myles Bryant, CB C.J. Henderson, S Lonnie Johnson, P Tommy Townsend.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Kamari Lassiter, OT Blake Fisher, S Caden Bullock, TE Cade Stover. Texans Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Devin Singletary, OT George Fant, OT Josh Jones, C Michael Deiter, DE Jonathan Greenard, DE Jerry Hughes, DT Maliek Collins, DT Sheldon Rankins, DT Hassan Ridgeway, LB Blake Cashman, LB Denzel Perryman, CB Steve Nelson, CB Tavierre Thomas, S Kareem Jackson, S Eric Murray, P Cameron Johnston.

2024 Houston Texans Offense:
The Texans front office should send a gift basket each holiday season to the Panthers for as long as C.J. Stroud is their starting quarterback. Carolina had the opportunity to select Stroud atop the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite the wishes of the coaches and front-office personnel, owner David “Axe” Tepper declared that Young would be the choice. This allowed Stroud to fall to the Texans, who scooped him up with the second pick.

Stroud was far better than advertised, posting astronomical numbers for a rookie. He threw for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions, leading Houston to the second round of the playoffs and winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in the process. Stroud can only get better with experience, and it certainly helps that his supporting cast will be better in 2024 than it was when he was a rookie. This, obviously, is the result of the Stefon Diggs acquisition. Diggs slowed down in the second half of the 2023 season, but he was dominant before Buffalo had a coordinator change. There’s a chance this regression is permanent, but Diggs could easily have a monstrous season to prove his former team wrong.

Diggs is just one of three talented receivers Stroud will have at his disposal. Nico Collins took a huge step in production last year, while Tank Dell thrived despite being just a rookie. Dell suffered an injury in Week 13 and was lost for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, so having him healthy will be huge for Houston. Meanwhile, Dalton Schultz will reprise his role as a dependable intermediate tight end target for Stroud.

The Texans will also have a new player in the backfield. That would be Joe Mixon, who will replace the Giants-bound Devin Singletary. While Singletary was tremendous to close out the 2023 season, Mixon should be a viable replacement. His numbers have been down of late, but he dealt with substandard blocking in Cincinnati.

Speaking of blocking, the Texans used one of their two second-round picks on right tackle Blake Fisher. The Notre Dame product figures to start immediately at right tackle, which will force Tytus Howard inside. If Fisher performs well, this will be two upgrades for the price of one. Meanwhile, left tackle Laremy Tunsil will continue to provide great protection from the blind side.

As for the rest of the interior, the other two starters besides Howard will be Juice Scruggs and Shaq Mason. Scruggs is a second-round pick from the 2023 NFL Draft, but did not play well last year after missing the first half of the season. However, he was stationed at guard, and center is his natural position. Howard’s move to left guard will allow Scruggs to be in a better spot. Mason, meanwhile, is not the same player he once was, but he did a decent job in his first season in Houston.

2024 Houston Texans Defense:
While the correct decision was to select a quarterback at No. 2 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, 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, like Stroud, did not disappoint as a rookie. He logged seven sacks in 15 games, a number that does not include a sack that he registered in the opening-round playoff battle against the Browns. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year as a consequence. He and Jonathan Greenard, who notched 12.5 sacks, terrorized opposing quarterbacks. Greenard is gone, but the Texans replaced him with Danielle Hunter, who is older but better at the moment. The two will relentlessly hound enemy signal-callers.

The Texans also made swaps at defensive tackle. They lost two other capable players in Sheldon Rankins and Maliek Collins, but they found replacements in Foley Fatukasi and Denico Autry. Fatukasi has been a force against the run in the past, while Autry is coming off a season in which he tallied 12.5 sacks. Autry has notched at least eight sacks in each of his previous three seasons. He won’t get much attention in Houston with Anderson and Hunter commanding all of it.

Some of Houston’s other new additions to the defense came via the 2024 NFL Draft. The Texans spent second- and third-round selections on defensive backs Kamari Lassiter and Calen Bullock, respectively. Houston had some dominant play from Derek Stingley Jr. last year, but the rest of the cornerback performances were inconsistent. Lassiter could change that for the better. Jeff Okudah was also added, but he was torched often in Atlanta this past season.

Bullock, meanwhile, will have a tougher time cracking the starting lineup. The Texans possess two quality safeties in Jimmie Ward and Jalen Pitre. Ward, however, has a checkered injury history, so Bullock may see extensive action at some point in 2024.

As for the linebackers, there was some change here as well with run defense specialist Denzel Perryman leaving for the Chargers. Blake Cashman, who was terrific last year, is also gone. This left Christian Harris and Henry To’oTo’o as the returning players, which seemed disastrous because neither was particularly effective in 2023. The Texans signed Azeez Al-Shaair to help. He’s coming off a solid season in Tennessee, so he could end up being Houston’s top linebacker.

2024 Houston Texans Schedule and Intangibles:
Ka’imi Fairbairn had a nearly perfect year, hitting 27-of-28 attempts, including 5-of-6 from 50-plus.

The Texans signed Tommy Townsend to be their new punter. He was 17th in net average last year. He didn’t pin the opposition inside the 20 very much.

The Texans have some tough opponents on their schedule. In addition to navigating through the NFC North and AFC East, they also have to deal with the Ravens and Chiefs.

2024 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.

2024 Houston Texans Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2024 Houston Texans Analysis: The Texans’ Super Bowl window is wide open. They have an extremely talented quarterback under a rookie contract, so they were able to make a huge move like acquiring Stefon Diggs. They’re one of the best teams in the NFL now, so no one should be surprised if they win it all this year.

Projection: 12-5 (1st in AFC South)

2023 Projection: 6-11. 2023 Actual Result: 10-7.
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:

B Grade

Goals Entering the 2024 NFL Draft: The Texans reached the second round of the playoffs last year, doing so ahead of schedule. Now with Stefon Diggs, Houston is expected to take the next step. To do that, the team will have to find upgrades in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Obtaining some more talent for the secondary will be crucial as well.

2024 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The offensive line and secondary were the two greatest areas of need, and the Texans addressed those groups with their first three picks. Two selections – Kamari Lassiter and Calen Bullock – were used to improve the pass defense, and both were solid choices, earning “B” and A- grades, respectively. The offensive line selection was also a quality pick, as Blake Fisher presents two possible upgrades. Fisher can start at right tackle, kicking Tytus Howard inside to guard.

Houston’s defensive line needed some upgrades as well, though the team waited much longer to fix that area. Two defensive linemen were acquired, but both were taken in the seventh round. It would have been better had the Texans used the fourth-round pick they spent on tight end Cade Stover on someone to help rush the passer instead. Stover isn’t a bad player, but he doesn’t fill a need at all.

Despite this mistake, the Texans did well overall, with none of their nine selections scoring worse than a B-. They didn’t come into the weekend with a first-round pick, but left the draft with an improved roster.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

42. Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia – B Grade

This is a solid pick by the Texans. Kamari Lassiter fills a need for the Texans, who suddenly have to worry about all the receiving talent being added to the AFC South. I had Lassiter going in my first round for a while before his stock fell a bit, but I projected him in the second frame.

59. Blake Fisher, OT, Notre Dame – B+ Grade

C.J. Stroud was under immense pressure against the Ravens in the playoffs. The Texans needed to improve their offensive line, and they’re certainly doing that with Blake Fisher, who can provide a big upgrade at right tackle, while also moving Houston’s current right tackle to guard.

78. Calen Bullock, S, USC – A- Grade

I really like this pick for the Texans. They needed to continue to add to their secondary with the improved passing attacks in the AFC South. Calen Bullock is a very instinctive player who makes splash plays, so he can play well right away.

123. Cade Stover, TE, Ohio State – B- Grade

The Texans moved up four spots for a tight end. This doesn’t address a need, but Cade Stover is a solid receiving tight end. His blocking is not very good, but he can be a weapon for C.J. Stroud, albeit at a crowded position.

188. Jamal Hill, LB, Oregon – B Grade

Jamal Hill made a name for himself late in the pre-draft process with some positive visits and meetings. Hill projects as a special-teamer, which has become more important with the new kickoff rule.

205. Jawhar Jordan, RB, Louisville – A Grade

I love this pick, as the Texans are adding an element to their offense they didn’t possess. Jawhar Jordan is a small back who can’t handle a full workload, but he has explosive ability that can go the distance, much like Keaton Mitchell.

238. Solomon Byrd, DE, USC – B+ Grade

Solomon Byrd is a bit undersized, so he won’t be able to play too many snaps, but he could be a pass-rushing specialist. He could have gone a round earlier, so this is a nice value.

247. Marcus Harris, DT, Auburn – B Grade

Marcus Harris is the smaller of the two late-round Auburn defensive tackles. Marcus Harris was a productive pass-rusher at Auburn, but he has athletic and size limitations for the NFL. Still, a solid pick in the seventh.

249. LaDarius Henderson, G, Michigan – A Grade

Here’s a nice bargain for the Texans. LaDarius Henderson was projected to go a round or two earlier than this. He can play both guard and tackle, though he’ll likely have to settle for the former in the NFL. Protection for C.J. Stroud had to be added.

Season Summary:
The Texans were perhaps a year ahead of schedule where everyone expected them to be with a rookie quarterback and head coach combo. Nevertheless, they ended up winning their division and upsetting the Browns in the opening round of the playoffs. They eventually lost to the Ravens, but there’s no doubt that the future is bright in Houston.

Offseason Moves:
  • 49ers acquire DT Maliek Collins from Texans for 7th-round pick
  • Texans acquire RB Joe Mixon from Bengals for conditional 2024 7th-round pick

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Offensive Linemen: It became quite apparent during the playoff loss to Baltimore that Houston needs to improve its offensive line. Left guard and right tackle are the big issues, assuming that Juice Scruggs moves to center.

    2. Safety: The Texans had major problems defending deep passes because of poor safety play. This area must be upgraded.

    3. Defensive Tackle: Houston must address the trenches on the defensive side of the ball as well, especially if Sheldon Rankins walks away via free agency. Signed Folo Fatukasi and Denico Autry

    4. Defensive End: If Jonathan Greenard leaves via free agency, the Texans will have to replace him and his 12.5 sacks. Signed Danielle Hunter

    5. Cornerback: Steven Nelson is another key free agent who will have to be replaced or retained. Signed Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson

    6. Running Back: Is Devin Singletary the long-term answer at running back? Probably not, but he’s an impending free agent anyway. Traded for Joe Mixon

    7. Tight End: Dalton Schultz is set to enter free agency as well. Re-signed Dalton Schultz

    8. Kicker: Ka’imi Fairbairn has been a reliable kicker for the Texans, but his contract is set to expire. Re-signed Ka’imi Fairbairn

    9. Punter: Cameron Johnston is also an impending free agent. Signed Tommy Townsend

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2024 NFL Free Agent Signings:

    Houston Texans Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.

    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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