Houston Texans: The 2021 NFL Draft and how they got here

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Ross Blacklock, Houston Texans
Houston Texans defensive lineman Ross Blacklock Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Turnover on defense

These past few seasons the Houston Texans have had huge turnover in both numbers and names. There was of course the Deandre Hopkins trade that ultimately cost O’Brien his job. But, the defense has lost several key contributors over the past few seasons. J.J. Watt has joined Hopkins in Arizona, but he is just one of a few big names.

In the 2018 season the Texans went 11-5 and the defense featured five players who had made at least one Pro Bowl: Benardrick McKinney, Tyrann Mathieu, Jadeveon Clowney, Jonathon Joseph and Watt. By the start of the ’20 season, only McKinney and Watt remained, and the team went 4-12. Now, they are all gone, and the team is searching for long-term replacements.

The Texans have used a few “early” draft picks on defense recently. Last season, the team drafted Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Greenard in the second and third rounds. The previous two NFL drafts they looked to help the secondary with Lonnie Johnson in the second round of ’19 and Justin Reid in the third round of ’18. Outside of Reid, the other three have struggled to either get on the field or perform consistently.

New defensive coordinator Lovie Smith may be able to tap into the potential these players have. But it isn’t just a hope, its a necessity. Most of the signings made by Caserio were short term and seem to be “prove it” deals. So these young guys will have their work cut out for them. Competing not just for time this season, but to maintain their place in the plans going forward.