Just a few short weeks ago the Houston Texans looked as though they were going to have a lot of holes to fill in the draft on both sides of the ball. There was some doubt about several of the starters from the 2014 team that finished a surprising 9-7 under first year head coach Bill O’Brien.
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Cornerback Kareem Jackson was a free agent who looked to be headed out, safety Kendrick Lewis was not coming back and needed to be replaced while the projected starting quarterback Ryan Mallett and right tackle Derek Newton were also set for free agency. Of course on top of all that there was the cutting of veteran players like receiver Andre Johnson and center Chris Myers.
Now a full week after the start of one of the craziest free agencies, the Texans are sitting in a great spot. Re-signed are Jackson, Newton and Mallett. The team replaced Lewis with former Denver Broncos free safety Rahim Moore, brought in some quarterback competition in Brian Hoyer and they also added a veteran pass catcher in receiver Cecil Shorts III.
The biggest move they have made was for one of the biggest men in free agency. Former New England Patriot Vince Wilfork will come in and handle the nose tackle duties for Houston after spending 11 years as the biggest cog in the Patriots defense.
Wilfork is as popular a player as there is in the league and should bring value beyond his play for a young Texans defense. Even the often tight lipped head coach of the Pats, Bill Belichick had a lot to say about the former Miami Hurricane.
"“Few players reached or will ever reach the special level of Vince Wilfork. He is a great champion and one of the classiest people I have ever been around – just a kind, genuine and giving person who was all about our team, football, winning and bringing joy to others. There may have never been anyone at his position with as much strength, toughness, intelligence, instinctiveness and athleticism. He is the best defensive linemen I ever coached, an all-time great Patriot whose place on our team will be missed but whose remarkable career as a Patriot will be remembered forever.” – Bill Belichick"
One thing that is for sure with all these moves by Houston is that they have set themselves up rather nicely. Just a few weeks ago all the talk was about what receiver will they pick in round one. The only other possibility seemed to be if they lost Jackson and went cornerback in round one.
Now with a fairly set roster the team can go for the best player available regardless of the position and not feel any need to reach for a player based on a need. Teams that draft to fill voids often find themselves in precarious situations, whereas the well run teams (like the New England Patriots) will draft whoever is tops on their board, even if that person may not contribute a lot in their rookie year.
While positions like receiver, cornerback and safety remain options, it is nice to know that if Houston is not sold on a player at these positions they won’t have to reach since free agency has altered their needs as draft day quickly approaches.