The Houston Texans season came to an end this past Sunday, with a 41-28 loss to the New England Patriots. Houston exited the playoffs in the divisional round for the second consecutive year. Although the Texans failed to reach their goal of a championship, the season was a success, with a 12-4 regular season record and advancing past the wild-card round again. Now, the off-season begins for the Texans as they try to add the missing pieces to the puzzle to make a super bowl run next season.
While fans, players, and coaches are disappointed and upset that the season is over, it is time to move forward to the more exciting parts of the off-season. With free agency and the NFL Draft coming up, teams have a lot to look over. Analysts around the internet are posting their mock drafts, explaining who they feel can make teams better. The Texans have a couple of big free agents who they will need to resign. Conner Barwin, Glover Quin, James Casey, and Brice McCain headline the list of Texans Free agents. Glover Quin should be their top priority as he has been a solid player since switching to the safety position. Although Barwin did not put up the sack numbers he did in 2011, he should be brought back to continue the rotation they have with Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed. Casey will likely be brought back as well, his versatile skill set allows the offense to do many things with him, as they can line him up as a fullback, tight end, and receiver. McCain was essentially a starter as a nickel corner for Wade Phillips’ defense. Brandon Harris could compete with him in camp for the job.
With the draft coming up, the Texans are starting to set their draft board with all the young talent coming out of college. The Texans are picking 27th in the first round of the draft, and at first thoughts you would think “the Texans won’t find a great player picking that late in the first round”. But, when looking at the teams who pick late year in and year out, you realize these teams are able to take the best player available at their pick, and consistently build winning teams. Picking late means the team was able to make a post-season run, which means they already have a good team. So when their pick comes around, they can look at the draft board and select the best available player according to their draft boards, who can immediately help their team get better. I believe the biggest needs for the Texans are nose tackle, wide receiver, and middle linebacker, in no particular order. Usually the Texans pick defense in the first round, believing they can find offensive gems in late rounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stick to that strategy again this year. Some names in the early mock drafts that have been linked to Houston are: Kevin Minter LB LSU, Eric Reid S LSU, and Robert Woods WR USC. Woods and Minter would fill needs, while Reid would be a great addition to the secondary.
Kevin Minter would be a great pick, adding depth to a position where the Texans had injury issues this season. Not only that, but he could compete to be the starter in the Texans 3-4 defense next to Brian Cushing, who is coming back from injury. Minter was voted the LSU 2012 MVP, and he has played in the SEC in college, which consists of the top football programs, and top defenses every year. Minter is great against the run and teaming him up with Cushing could turn one of the weaknesses in 2012 into a strength for Houston next year. Robert woods, from USC, would finally give the Texans the number two receiver they have needed for years. Wide Receiver DeVier Posey had begun to flash his potential towards the end of the season, but he suffered a torn Achilles in the game against New England. With Kevin Walter growing older, he will be 32 this year, the Texans need to find his replacement. Walter is a sure handed receiver, but he is not the fastest guy on the field. Posey’s injury will set him back for some time and Robert woods would be able to come in and provide another receiver for Matt Schaub to throw to. Teams know if they shut down Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, they basically shut down the passing game. Eric Reid, the safety from LSU, could be seen as taking the best player available. Safety is not necessarily a need, but Reid could come in and push Quin and Daniel Manning for their jobs. Both Quin and Manning are solid safetys, and Quin has excelled wince switching from cornerback to safety. The safety postion could become similar to the Texans OLB postitions, where they rotate Whitney Mercilus in to keep the players fresh. Reid would be a huge upgrade over Quinton Demps and Shiloh Keo.
Though the Texans season is over, it is time for them to look to next season, where they should be considered Super Bowl contenders once again. The Texans will look to make their team better this off-season, while keeping their own players together. It will be exciting to see what additions and subtractions Houston makes this off-season .This year I will be doing my first ever mock draft here on this site, so be sure to check back!
AFC Championship; Patriots 38 Ravens 34 – This game will likely be a high scoring affair. The Patriots have yet to find an opponent who can slow them down and this game should be no different. The Ravens have shown they deserve to be playing this weekend though. They were able to upset the Broncos in Denver. Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense will not be able to complete a comeback drive. The Patriots will return to the Super Bowl.
NFC Championship; Falcons 31 49ers 28 – This match up could go either way, but I’ll take the Falcons at home. Collin Kaepernick will continue his high level of play, but the Falcons will kick a late feild goal to win this one. Atlanta will get to the Super Bowl and face the unstoppable Patriots offense.