Overall, the Texans linebackers have the potential to be really good. Last year Whitney Mercilus finally gave some indications that he can play like a first round pick as he racked up 12 sacks (although nine came against the Jaguars and Titans) but I think he can take another step forward and be more consistent next season. But the biggest burden falls on Jadeveon Clowney.
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There has been a lot said about the former #1 overall pick from 2014. He was injured over his first season and a half but started to play better down the stretch last season. The Texans will need him to come through more than anything else because with him drawing attention it will free up Mercilus to make plays because opponents will have to devote so much to stopping Clowney and J.J. Watt.
The inside linebackers are where things could get a little dicey but still overall are solid. Brian Cushing has a reputation for not being able to stay healthy, but over the last couple of seasons has only missed two games—and last season he had his first 100+ tackle season since 2011. Beside him in the 3-4 is going to be Benardrick McKinney, the former Mississippi State star.
The former Bulldog linebacker has been among the most improved players in camp so far this offseason and I think will have a big year. As a rookie he got into 14 games and racked up 63 tackles and this season I think he will have over 100.
There is certainly talent, and enough to jump into the top spot this season.