By: Jeff Knapp
The Houston Texans ended the 2022 season with a horrible 3-13-1 record finishing last in the AFC and going into the 2023 draft with the 2nd pick and 12th pick from the Cleveland Browns as a part of the Deshaun Watson trade.
The Texans go into free agency with about $41 million in cap space and have many holes to plug on both sides of the ball.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Texans were ranked 31st in total yards per game with 283.5, 196.7 passing yards a game (25th), 86.8 rushing yards a game (31st), and 17 points per game (31st)
2nd year starting QB Davis Mills threw for 3118 yards (16th ranked), 17 TDs (16th ranked), 15 INTs (tied for 1st), and took 31 sacks (15th most). He took a step back a bit compared to his 2021 rookie season.
Rookie RB Dameon Pierce missed the last four games of the season with an ankle injury. He still finished the season with 939 rushing yards and 4 TDs to go along with his 30 receptions out of the backfields for 165 yards and 1 TD.
Their receiving core was banged up with Brandin Cooks missing four games, Nico Collins missing seven, and Amari Rodgers missing 11. Rookie 2nd round WR John Metchie missed the season after being diagnosed with Leukemia.
Although Brandin Cooks missed four games, he still led the team in receptions and receiving yards with 699. TE Jordan Akins had a good year ending with 37 receptions and 5 TD.
On the defensive side of the ball, their defense was the 27th-ranked defense giving up 24.7 points per game, and was ranked 19th with 39 sacks.
Even with a defense that left little to be desired, some bright spots were on that side of the ball. I want to spotlight Safety Jalen Pitre, who finished with 146 tackles, one sack, and 5 INTs. We also have to spotlight LB Christian Kirksey, who finished with 124 tackles, three sacks, and 2 INTs.
Lastly, 2022 1st round pick Derek Stingley Jr. had a solid start to his career but sadly only played in 9 games after suffering a hamstring injury which the Texans decided to put him on IR not further to aggravate his injury with a season already finished. He had 35 tackles, one sack, and 1 INT in those nine games.
With free agency on the horizon, they can keep some of their most productive players and move on from others.
As of this writing, 2/27/2023, these are my thoughts on FA and the Draft
There are a few players I believe the Texans should try and resign are
- OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
- WR Chris Moore
- TE Jordan Akins
If they can keep those three players, there are a few they might need to move on from, and they are
- OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis
- RB Rex Burkhead
- CB Tremon Smith
- WR Phillip Dorsett
With free agency starting in mid-March, there are a few free agents they should go after. After giving up over 30 sacks, they need to sure up that OL. With that said, that’s where I’d start 1st. I’d look at RTs George Fant or Mike McGlinchey to play opposite Laremy Tunsil. From there, I’d look into the Guard position and try for Isaac Seumalo or even Justin Pugh, who can at least be better than what they have at that position.
With the WR core how it was last season, they will look at the draft for help, but they should look at signing 1 of the better FA receivers, including Allen Lazard, Jakobi Meyers, or Marvin Jones. If they add Jones along with Lazard or Meyers and pick up an excellent rookie receiver, they are on the right path.
On the defensive side, there are a few names that they might want to target
- FS Jordan Poyer
- DT Dalvin Tomlinson
- DT Fletcher Cox
- DE Yannick Ngakoue
Adding just some of those on both sides will give them an upgrade on the O-line to protect the QB and the added force upfront from getting after the QB.
Let’s also not forget who might become cap casualties once teams like the Bucs, Saints, Vikings, Chargers, Jags, and Bills start releasing players.
With those holes hopefully filled or at least improved during the free agency period, they head into the 2023 draft with the 2nd and 12th pick (from Cleveland).
With the 2nd pick, the Texans have plenty of options.
Option A: If the Bears trade the #1 pick to another team looking for a QB, they still have the option to get whoever is left after that team takes Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, or Will Levis.
With the 12th pick, they can either go WR with Quentin Johnston or Jordan Addison.
Option B: They are committed to Davis Mills OR can land Lamar Jackson in free agency, which is a HUGE if they trade back to 4th (Colts), 7th (Raiders), or 9th (Panthers), so those teams can pick a QB, and the Texans pick up an O-lineman with that pick and then still go WR with the 12th. They take a DT or LB with their second 2nd round pick to go with their 1st 2nd rounder earlier. Receivers to target are Quentin Johnston and Jordan Addison.
Option C: Trade back with their 12th pick if both significant WR threats are off the board and take one of 5 possible 1st-round O-linemen that might be left on the board.