The Houston Texans have had their offseason praised on more than one occasion, and the positive reactions continue to flow in. The team was awarded a solid grade of B+ for their overall moves and draft selections by Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated.
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Burke called the move to acquire nose tackle Vince Wilfork the best by Houston this offseason. He noted how the team wanted last season’s third round selection Louis Nix III to man that position, but injuries have limited the effectiveness of the young man out of Notre Dame thus far. Wilfork is believed to be a stop-gap solution as the team waits for Nix to gain his health and mature in the league.
"Eventually, Nix will be asked to anchor the middle of the line. In the meantime, the defense was in need of a big body up front, and Smith could not have done much better than the one he found. Wilfork, who turns 34 in November, may not be an every-down defender anymore, but he remains a monster against the run."
Sticking with the defensive front, Burke calls Rice defensive lineman Christian Covington the most underrated draft pick.
"Covington could develop into yet another troublemaker up front for a team already capable of bullying defenses with Watt and Wilfork. The Vancouver native will slot in as a backup defensive end, but he has the versatility to be considered by teams running either 3–4 or 4–3 base sets. Covington generates a lot of power when he’s at 100%."
At one point Covington looked to be a potential second round selection, but injuries cut short his final college season and scared some teams off. At 6’2″ and 289 pounds his size is perfect for the 3-4 system run by the Texans and can provide some very solid depth for the team while proving to be a steal as a sixth round choice.
It is no shock that the article goes on to call the biggest loss the team suffered the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson. This is an area I wish people could find a different word. To me a loss would be someone who decided to leave or retire. The Texans moved on from Johnson, they did not lose him.
Head coach Bill O’Brien has shown some promise as a coach and got a lot of young players involved during the turnaround season that was 2014. He believes the team is best suited to go young at the receiver spot and felt comfortable moving on without the aging veteran.
Perhaps replacing Johnson proves to be an impossible task and he may have another year or two left to look like a very good NFL receiver. However, the Texans moving on from Johnson cannot be quantified by looking at statistics alone as it was done to improve the depth and experience of the younger players as a whole.
Overall, I agree with Burke that the offseason was good to Houston. They scored in free agency with Wilfork and safeties Rahim Moore and Stevie Brown. They got good talent and value with their draft picks like linebacker Benardrick McKinney and receiver Jaelen Strong. They also hit potential home runs in the undrafted portion of free agency by unearthing some possible gems.
"The Texans also scored some points with their work pursuing undrafted free agent: Safety Kurtis Drummond (more on him shortly), offensive lineman Greg Manczand outside linebacker Lynden Trail all could have been drafted without anyone batting an eye at that choice."
As long as the team continues to fight hard on the field and O’Brien and company continue their smart decision making off the field, things will continue to look good for the future in Houston.