The Houston Texans’ Defense Will Be Top 5 in 2015
The Texans’ defensive unit is coming off a season in which we saw immense progress. People tend to forget that last year’s Texans squad went through a complete overhaul; from coaching staff to ball boy, new faces filled NRG Stadium.
Given another year to familiarize themselves with the scheme, the Texans’ defense should improve on an NFL-best 34 takeaways and 7th overall rating in points allowed per game.
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2015’s unit will be headlined once again by other-worldly talent, J.J. Watt. So much has already been said and witnessed about him, repeating the narrative would do more harm than good. Let’s just hope we see a few more terrific touchdowns out of the best defensive player to touch the tawdry Texan turf.
Rounding out positions not played by Watt, there will be a staggering 7 former first round picks;
Kevin Johnson, cornerback – Pick 16, Round 1 2015 NFL Draft
Jadeveon Clowney, outside linebacker – Pick 1, Round 1 2014 NFL Draft
Whitney Mercilus, outside linebacker – Pick 26, Round 1 2012 NFL Draft
Kareem Jackson, cornerback – Pick 20, Round 1 2010 NFL Draft
Johnathan Joseph, cornerback – Pick 24, Round 1 2006 NFL Draft
Brian Cushing, inside linebacker – Pick 15, Round 1 2009 NFL Draft
Vince Wilfork, nose tackle – Pick 21, Round 1 2004 NFL Draft
Now while being a first round pick doesn’t automatically make you great, one must consider that they’ve been solid contributors for more than one year outside of Clowney and Kevin Johnson.
The front office for the Texans addressed major needs in the 2015 NFL Draft as well.
Drafting Johnson out of Wake Forest was a ballsy move by general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien, but one that could pay substantial dividends come fall.
The secondary of this team was by far the worst aspect of their 2014 performance, ranking 21st overall in pass yards relinquished per game. Given that, coupled with the Indianapolis Colts’ recent wide receiver additions of Houston Texan great Andre Johnson and the former Hurricane Phillip Dorsett in the offseason, it appears to be a rock-solid pick.
The Texans again went defense, drafting Benardrick McKinney out of Mississippi State in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He ought to fit in well with the Texans’ scheme; his length, athleticism, and killer instinct will be on display while paired with Brian Cushing in the middle.
Two surprise rookies will emerge within this defense and be contributors in the coming season. Chris Covington, the 6th round pick out of Rice, was highly regarded before suffering a knee injury that cut his 2014 campaign short. He should at least crack the rotation of interior lineman to further bolster the depth at that position.
The undrafted free agent safety Kurtis Drummond should not only make the team, but fight for a spot in the secondary rotation as well. He should at the very least be a strong special teams leader. His former coach had some great things to say about him.
"“You know how Neo was able to slow things down, and dodge those bullets?” Barnett said last week on “The Griff and Grinz” show on Lansing’s The Team, 92.1 FM.“Well that’s Kurtis, he’s calling things out on the field before the play happens, and he would do that every day in practice, too.”"
Bringing in key contributors during the free agency period was huge for the Texans in 2015. Adding Vince Wilfork, Rahim Moore, and Stevie Brown will strengthen the core of the team.
The biggest question mark heading into training camp this fall will be the health of potential superstar Jadeveon Clowney. Fans all saw both sides of the coin, potential for one of the biggest busts in NFL history clashing with flashes of the freakish ability that landed him as the #1 overall selection in last years’ draft. Houston can only hope he recovers from micro fracture surgery and contributes come September.
Talent, depth, and great coaching will be a constant for the Houston Texans’ Defense in 2015. Now let’s see how far it can carry them.