Defensive players making the Houston Texans' 53-man roster (26)
Defensive end (5)
Will Anderson Jr., Jonathan Greenard, Jerry Hughes, Derek Rivers, Adedayo Odeleye
Ok, I was wrong initially. I had Hughes off this roster and not making the 53 but the more I look at this, the more I think he makes the final roster. Primarily because the Texans simply don't have other options with much of a track record in the NFL.
Hughes at least brings a ton of leadership and can be a great mentor for Anderson and second-year man, Greenard. Dylan Horton and Ali Gaye are both rookies and will likely find themselves on the team's practice squad. That leaves Jacob Martin and Chase Winovich on the outs.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Sheldon Rankins, Maliek Collins, Hassan Ridgeway, Roy Lopez, Thomas Booker IV
The top three of Rankins, Collins, and Ridgeway all have eight years of NFL experience behind them, which will serve them and the Texans well, especially considering the bookends starters of Anderson Jr. and Greenard have one season between them.
After the top three though, none of them have more than four years and that's only one of them, Byron Cowart. Trying to determine who the other two were that made this team is hard. None of them stand out from the others and they all have about the same level of experience. In the end, I went with Lopez and Booker IV.
Christian Harris, Denzel Perryman, Blake Cashman, Cory Littleton, Henry To'oTo'o
I struggled with the team carrying four or five linebackers but went with five because I think the team wants to keep To'oTo'o on the 53-man roster and continue developing him to take Perryman's spot as the starting middle linebacker. If they kept only four, that means someone like Littleton or either Cashman or Harris could be out. In the end, the Texans go five strong at the position.
I like this group as well and Perryman's leadership in the middle of the defense will pay huge dividends for the Houston Texans and their defense. He knows Coach Ryans' defense and will be a big asset there.
Derek Stingley Jr., Steven Nelson, Shaquill Griffin, Cameron Dantzler, Ka'dar Holman, D'Angelo Ross
This position was another difficult one to determine, primarily because we don't know how Coach Ryans and this staff want to build the roster. Teams typically keep anywhere from five to seven corners on their 53-man roster, and it comes down largely to how the staff wants to run the defense from a scheme perspective.
I decided to go somewhere in the middle and have them keep six. I also think the team signed Dantzler because of a lack of confidence in their depth. Dantzler brings experience and he has all the tools to be a solid corner in the NFL but for whatever reason has not been able to put it all together yet. Can the Texans staff bring that out of him?
Jalen Pitre, Jimmie Ward, M.J. Stewart, Eric Murray
The tandem of Pitre and Ward will be one of the best safety duos in the league. The Texans certainly hope so and hope they can stay healthy. Pitre is one of the best young safeties in the game and Ward is an excellent piece to the puzzle and brings that leadership to the secondary that will be important to the defense.
The backups of Steward and Murray bring a combined 14 years of NFL experience, so they may not be starting-caliber safeties, but they have a ton of experience and know what they are doing in the defensive backfield. There is a lot of knowledge that Pitre can learn from this safety group.
Ka'imi Fairbairn, Cameron Johnston, Jon Weeks
This group is pretty obvious, but the team did just sign punter Ty Zentner due to an injury that Johnston is nursing. This is only a temporary fix until Johnston is 100% and can assume his punter duties.