With the 2023 Training Camp set to start for the Houston Texans on July 26th, PFF recently took a look at the team's off-season performance and handed out grades to the Texans and all 32 NFL teams. How did the Texans fare and was PFF accurate in their assessment?
Pro Football Focus handed out a B- grade for the Houston Texans off-season, though I would have graded them higher, probably around a B to B+ but I think the biggest reason for PFF's grade is the massive risk they took in trading up to grab Will Anderson Jr.
"This roster still needs considerably more talent at all levels, but the trade up to No. 3 overall for Anderson leaves the Texans without their most important future building block — their 2024 first-round pick."- Pro Football Focus
In PFF's overview, one thing that stands out is the roster turnover. The Texans added 14 free agents and drafted another nine players. 23 new faces on this roster, while only losing two via free agency in edge defenders Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Rasheem Green.
One of the things that PFF stated was what they believe to be the Texans' biggest off-season signing. Here is what they said about the addition of safety Jimmie Ward, coming over from the San Francisco 49ers.
"On the other side of the ball, safety Jimmie Ward was the top prize. Ward is coming off two consecutive 90.0-plus run-defense grades and has earned above-average coverage grades in each of the past four campaigns.- Pro Football Focus
Ward will bring sorely needed veteran leadership and stability to the Texans’ secondary. Specifically, he should help balance and improve the play of 2022 rookie safety Jalen Pitre, who came down with six interceptions (and dropped four more) but also missed a league-leading 36 tackles last season."
Ward is a very good player, but I think the biggest off-season addition is Sheldon Rankins. While Ward is outstanding against the run but run defense starts up front and this is where Rankins comes into play. The Texans were abysmal against the run a season ago and improving this area of the defense will go a long way in having a successful season.
Not to mention that Rankins is a guy that can eat up blocks, which should help free up rookie Will Anderson Jr. and Jonathan Greenard. Jerry Hughes will be part of the defensive line depth as well and can provide excellent leadership, along with Rankins. A strong unit upfront helps in run defense and makes the secondary's job easier as well.
PFF's overall view of the Houston Texans is more about developing the young talent on this team and building a strong core or foundation for future seasons. I've talked about this fact in the past as well, it's not about how many games the Texans can win in 2023. It's about how Stroud develops into the franchise quarterback the Texans need and the rest of the team's youthful roster.