It’s certainly a difficult task for rebuilding teams, but all hope isn’t lost for Houston.
When you hear the name Houston Texans you probably don’t think of Pro Bowl caliber talent. It wasn’t always that way though. In reality, the Texans have been sort of a Pro Bowl producing factory since their introduction into the NFL.
Besides last season, Houston has failed to have a player named to the Pro Bowl just one other time. This came in 2003, which was the team’s second year in the league. Other than that, the Texans’ have had at least one Pro Bowler every year from 2004-2020.
So will Houston be able to change last year’s fate in 2022?
There’s certainly a chance. While rebuilding teams don’t usually have the benefit of rostering many Pro Bowl level players, it’s not an impossible feat. Just look at last year’s roster which contained Kyle Pitts from the Atlanta Falcons, and Jonah Jackson from the Detroit Lions. Simply put, if you’re talented enough there’s always an opportunity.
So which players fit that bill for the Texans? Three possible names come to mind, starting with the obvious one: Brandin Cooks.
Cooks is the model of consistency, racking up six 1,000 yard seasons in his first eight years. Despite those numbers, the Houston receiver has never been a Pro Bowler. This could all change in ’22 though, as Cooks appears to be in line for his best season ever.
But even if his numbers don’t jump, Cooks still has a strong argument. Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow put up basically the same numbers as Cooks, with better quarterback play, and was named a reserve. Meaning the Texans stud receiver will likely be in the conversation once again this upcoming season.
Who are the Texans’ dark horse candidates for Pro Bowl?
Now moving on to the two dark horse candidates. The first being defensive end Jonathan Greenard. Greenard popped in his second professional season, finishing with eight sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games. If he can continue to develop and stay healthy, a double-digit sack season isn’t out of the question.
Greenard’s biggest issue in making the Pro Bowl however, comes from his competition. With guys like Myles Garrett and Trey Hendrickson proving their dominance, typically only one spot is up for grabs. Last season, Maxx Crosby occupied that spot after totaling eight sacks in 17 games. With similar numbers as Crosby, as long as Greenard begins to gain more name recognition, there’s an opportunity for him to sneak in.
The last potential player who could be named a Pro Bowler for Houston is linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill. In a first-time starting role last year, Grugier-Hill had 108 total tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles in 14 games. Those are very respectable numbers which should only improve as he gets used to being a full time starter.
Grugier-Hill’s issue, much like Greenard’s, is in the competition. Colts’ linebacker Shaquille Leonard is considered one of the best at his position, and will likely always occupy one of the two spots. Thus, leaving Grugier-Hill in a matchup against every other AFC starting linebacker for one remaining spot. Not impossible, but certainly difficult.
The hope is there though, for the Houston Texans. If the wins improve even just slightly, the Texans should be back to having a Pro Bowler on the roster for ’22