The Texans, coming off a disaster of a season at 2-14, had high hopes for the 2013 season. Coming off another playoff win against the Bengals, expectations were high. Schaub was healthy and good, Foster was running hard, and the defense was superb.
Then it all fell apart.
Schaub started to throw touchdowns...to the other team, Foster couldn't remain healthy, Cushing went down again and took the defense with him, and prized free agent Ed Reed turned out to be a total bust. It got so bad, Andre did something his classy self had never done before: leave the field in the closing seconds of a game and was seen yelling at his QB on the sidelines.
Fans starting clamoring for local town hero, Case Keenum. While he was formidable the first couple of games, he was quickly game planned for and "the Case" was quickly "figured out" . Gary Kubiak was let go and Bill O'Brien, who did a masterful job while at Penn State in the aftermath of the infamous scandal, was named head coach. After winning the first two games of the season including, both of them being nail-biters, the team would not win a game again, losing an embarrassing 14 in a row and mercifully getting the top pick of the draft.
So what are the biggest needs now for the Texans?
Possibly the biggest need on the team. This QB class will be deeper, but not more talented, than the 2012 draft class. Schaub will be cut and if reports are true, the Raiders will take the first shot at him as interests are very high from the Oakland organization. Keenum, with his 55.9 completion rating, is not the answer. The most likely candidates are former Heisman winner Manziel, Bridgewater, and Bortles, based on newly minted head coach Bill O'Brien's system.
With Cushing going down each of the last 2 seasons, there was no linebacker depth to make up for it. Brooks Reed cannot rush the QB no matter what position you play him in and Mercilus has had some inconsistent flashes of brilliance at times. Some names that the Texans could use:
- Jeremiah Attaochu of Georgia Tech is a fierce competitor who played in the 3-4 at outside linebacker until his senior season. Georgia Tech switched over to a 4-3 in 2013 and put him at defensive end. He would be ecstatic to return to the position where he had 10 sacks in 2012.
- Shayne Skov of Stanford was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of The Week in Stanford’s upset of No. 2 Oregon. Looking at the game tape, he has a knack for shooting the gap and racking up tackles for losses. It took the fifth-year senior a couple of years to regain his quickness after an ACL tear in 2011, but it now looks like he has made it all the way back.
3) Right Tackle
The right tackle position was a revolving door of sorts for the Texans this year. Derek Newton was one of the main reasons Keenum had to run for his life on every snap especially against Kansas City and the Cardinals. The Texans could give Ryan Harris a chance but he has not gotten the trust of the staff yet. Some names that the Texans will take a hard look at:
- Cyrus Kouandjio of Alambama “has at least as impressive a skill set as his former linemate D.J. Fluker” in the words of NflDraftScout.com guru Rob Rang. Agility is the key to zone-blocking success and is one of his best assets. At 6’5” and 310 pounds, he has just the right frame to immediately step in as a rookie and would be perfect for the zone blocking scheme the Texans have installed.
- Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M is similarly sized but does not get the hype of fellow tackle Jake Matthews. Considering he plays on a line that has only given up 17 sacks in 10 games for an SEC team, he might work his way into the low first round by next May. Another question to ponder: will he be protecting Manziel in Houston?
4) Running back
Arian Foster is not getting any younger and seemingly been used up the last couple of seasons. No running back in the league has carried the ball more than Arian the last 3 seasons as a full time back. Ben Tate will not get resigned by the Texans as other teams like the Browns will pay him significantly more money than the Texans. Cierre Wood was let go earlier in the season and Dennis Johnson nor Jonathan Grimes is the answer. The Texans could look as early as the 3rd round for some running backs.
- Charles Sims of West Virginia and Marion Grice should be available. Sims is a transfer from the University of Houston and was the second leading rusher in the Big 12 at 847 yards. Grice was the nation's leading scorer and should be a big time red zone threat, an area which the Texas struggled with mightily this past season.