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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Houston Texans
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Defensive ends

Defensive end is one of the deepest positions on the roster heading into next season. The Houston Texans have J.J. Watt, Tim Jernigan, Angelo Blackson, Carlos Watkins, Charles Omenihu, and Ira Savage-Lewis. However, Watt and Omenihu are more interchangeable across the defensive line as they can line up on the outside as edge rushers as well.

Meanwhile, Jernigan, Blackson, Watkins, Savage-Lewis are stouter than their counterparts and are tasked with occupying blockers as 3-4 defensive ends. They could see playing time as defensive tackles in 4-3 fronts. It will be interesting to see how the competition unfolds between Jernigan, Watkins, Blackson, and Omenihu for the other 3-4 defensive end spot across from Watt.

Blackson was the favored starter last season over Watkins and a young Omenihu in his rookie season, but Jernigan brings an interesting variable to the mix this year as a former starter in his past two teams. Injuries have been the biggest obstacle for Jernigan, but he is a talented player that has produced when healthy. Watkins and Jernigan both have a lot to prove in a contract year as they are projected to hit free agency next offseason.

On the other hand, Omenihu is an intriguing pass rusher moving forward after the Texans found him in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He showed glimpses of being a long term fix in the rotation, but there were also moments he disappeared on the field as a rookie, which led to diminishing snaps at certain times as the season went on.