Houston Texans draft: Previewing defensive line depth

J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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Previewing the Houston Texans defensive line depth before the start of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Houston Texans have had a busy offseason making a lot of moves to assimilate the roster to how head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien wants the team to function moving forward.

The defensive line has undergone its changes and will look different than how it has looked in previous seasons with D.J. Readers’ departure in free agency. Reader signed a four-year deal worth up to $53 million to bolster the Cincinnati Bengals defensive line for the upcoming season.

Houston is faced with the task of replacing Reader’s production in the middle of their defensive line after being spoiled with two solid players at the position in the past with Vince Wilfork and Reader.

Related Story. Defense needs to be the focus heading into the Draft. light

Nose Tackles

Texans had a contingency plan in place at nose tackle by extending Brandon Dunn to a three-year deal worth $12 million before free agency started. The deal favors Dunn as the projected starter ahead of next season, but there is an underlying question if he can anchor the middle of the defense in a more prominent role.

Dunn has taken strides in the defense since arriving in the league undrafted from Louisville in 2014; He spent a short stint with the Chicago Bears before being picked up by the Texans. He was an unsung contributor in the past as one of better run stoppers on the defense as Reader’s backup. However, Houston should look to make it a competition and draft another defender with Eddie Vanderdoes as the only other nose tackle currently on the depth chart.

Vanderdoes is a young, intriguing player promoted from the Texans’ practice squad late last season after the Oakland Raiders waived him. Drafted in the third round by the Raiders in 2017, injuries have been the main issue preventing him from seeing the field early in his career.

It’s no secret that health and overall knowledge of the defense will be factors to take into consideration as the Texans determine who their next starter will be at nose tackle.