The Houston Texans linebacker position is filled with a lot of questions

After losing Blake Cashman and Jonathan Greenard in free agency, they turned to free agency mostly to replace the talent, and also found a gem in the draft.
Cleveland Browns v Houston Texans
Cleveland Browns v Houston Texans / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Last time I mentioned the Houston Texans defensive line just underwent a massive overhaul. However, you can’t leave their linebacker room out of that discussion as well. After losing Blake Cashman and Jonathan Greenard in free agency, they turned to free agency mostly to replace the talent and also found a gem in the draft. If you’re worried about this position, it’s probably justified. I won't go as far as saying it will be a bad position group, but it has its flaws. 

Henry To’oTo’o started six games last season, Christian Harris started in 12, and Azeez Al-Shaair is a new addition from the Tennessee Titans. This means a lot of these players will be starting together for the very first time come Week 1.

Depth chart (10)

  • Azeez Al-Shaair
  • Christian Harris
  • Del’Shawn Phillips
  • Henry To’oTo’o
  • Jake Hansen
  • Jamal Hill
  • Jacob Phillips
  • Max Tooley 
  • Neville Hewitt
  • Tarique Barnes

A lot of these players are unknowns, which is cause for concern as a Texans fan with the position group. There are not as many “sure thing” players at the linebacker spot as there have been in years past, but putting your trust in young players like Christian Harris and Henry To’oTo’o isn’t a foreign idea to this Texans front office. They’ve done it in years past with Blake Cashman for example. However, what can Texans fans expect from this group of players? 

It may take some time for this unit to gel together and see good production. They haven't seen a ton of starting reps together, and Al-Shaair, who’s a projected starter, is in his first year with the team. If anyone can get production out of this position group, it’s DeMeco Ryans. This can be a successful group by the end of the season, but expecting it to happen in September is foolish. 

Once training camp rolls around and this position gets working together for the first time, we’ll see some great battles and should know a bit more clearly 1) who will start and 2) what kind of production we might see from them. There’s a lot to like about them, and a lot to dislike about the group. One thing is for sure though. They’ll be relying a good amount on the likes of To’oTo’o and Harris, both in their first and second years respectfully. 

One player I'm interested to see is Jacob Phillips. The former Cleveland Brown is only 25 years old coming off of eight starts in three seasons. He likely won't get the starting job in Week 1, but down the road, he's going to be a fun player to see develop in Houston. The former third-round pick by Cleveland has ties to Houston, as they acquired the draft pick to select him by trading running back Duke Johnson to Houston in 2020. Phillips is still young enough that he can jumpstart his career in Houston, much like Blake Cashman did, and have a successful NFL career. 

My starting prediction

OLB: Christian Harris
MLB: Azeez Al-Shaair
OLB: Henry To’oTo’o