Texans roster 2021: Predicting Week 1 offensive, defensive starters
By Peter Panacy
Texans starting defense predictions
Defensive line: Maliek Collins, Charles Omenihu, Whitney Mercilus, Shaq Lawson
Linebacker: Zach Cunningham, Christian Kirksey
Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III, Terrance Mitchell, Desmond King
Safety: Justin Reid, Lonnie Johnson Jr.
Perhaps nose tackle Maliek Collins showcases the kind of efforts he had with the Dallas Cowboys between 2016 and 2019 instead of what happened with the Las Vegas Raiders last year. On a one-year deal, Collins is yet another one of those low-risk moves to help infuse some veteran depth along a rebuilding defensive line.
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The addition of Shaq Lawson as a pass-rusher was a nice move, and the hope is he can replicate the kind of success he enjoyed with the Bills back in 2019 when he had 6.5 sacks.
One of the key problems Houston could face, though, is defending against the run. After surrendering a league-worst 5.2 yards per carry last year, the front seven doesn’t seem to be drastically improved at all and could be in for yet another rough year in this department.
But that doesn’t highlight the biggest concern from the Texans defense, which remains the secondary.
Vernon Hargreaves III shouldn’t be starting, yet the lack of talent around him almost mandates he’s in the starting lineup. Particularly with fellow cornerback Bradley Roby starting the year on the suspended list for a PED violation. Perhaps Desmond King, the 2018 first-team All-Pro, winds up being a quality storyline and can bump someone like Hargreaves down the pecking order once Roby returns after Week 1.
Even so, opponents should have little trouble finding holes within the secondary.