Houston Texans: Projected starting lineup before the NFL Draft
OL: Laremy Tunsil (LT), Max Scharping (LG), Nick Martin (C), Zach Fulton (RG), Tytus Howard (RT)
Does the offensive line seems somewhat …stable? By far the biggest weakness for the team entering the last season saw an increase in pass protection, allowing Deshaun Watson to have a career year.
Extension talks with Laremy Tunsil have ramped up and will either fall into place this offseason or next. He will absolutely be retained, but apparently the $18.5 million per year he was offered was not a satisfactory salary.
Max Scharping played sharp all of last year and will retain his starting role, and fellow second-year player Tytus Howard will be welcomed back warmly after missing the second half of the season. The only potential player up in the air here is Zach Fulton, who is significantly overpaid for his production and may not keep his job going into the season.
DL: JJ Watt (DE), Angelo Blackson (DE), Timmy Jernigan (DT)
Houston icon and superhuman J.J. Watt looks to come back fully healthy this year after having an entire offseason to recover from his torn pectoral. Watt’s miraculous return for the playoff games was inspirational, but honestly quite ill-advised.
Entering this season Watt will be 31 years old, and he is approaching the final two years of his contract as questions loom about his production relative to his overall worth. As for now, Watt is the heart-and-soul of the Houston Texans defense and the primary pass-rushing threat.
On the opposite side, Angelo Blackson presents a solid run-stuffing option, but never accrues monster stats (20 total tackles in 2019). The intriguing addition here is newcomer Timmy Jernigan, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles. Jernigan has never been a major pass-rushing threat, but has 17.5 career sacks and even one interception to his name.
Jernigan is not guaranteed a starting job, but his second round draft status and lack of competition after D.J. Reader’s departure in free agency both help his case. Expect the Houston Texans to select a defensive lineman in the latter half of the 2020 NFL Draft as well.