The Houston Texans will be going into year one of Lovie Smith as their head coach. Nick Caserio let David Culley go after just one season and a 4-13 record. This is a rebuilding team that hopes to take that next step in the process. Davis Mills is going into year two looking to prove he’s the QB of the future for this franchise. Nick Caserio was able to deal Deshaun Watson for a plethora of first round draft picks. Things are looking up for the Texans after a very distracting 2021 season. 2022 is about taking that next step.
QB: Davis Mills, Kyle Allen, Jeff Driskel, Kevin Hogan
Explanation: Davis Mills had an up and down rookie season showing flashes of what his potential could be. His total rating on PFF was a 58.5, good for 35th of 37 QB’s. However, his final four games he threw for 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions and in 2 of those games had a QBR of over 70. He showed development and more accurate passing as the season progressed. Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel have both started games in the NFL and are more than ready to serve as a backup if Mills is not able to progress in his sophomore season. John Metchie being added to the receiving unit should also help out Mills a ton.
RB: Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, Dameon Pierce, Dare Ogunbowale, Royce Freeman, Darius Anderson, Andy Janovich, Paul Quessenberry
Explanation: Mack has battled with injuries and getting consistent touches since his 1,000 season of 2019. He will need to stay healthy in order to show he’s capable of replicating such success. Burkhead gained 427 yards on 3.5 yards a carry but has the dynamic ability to catch balls out of the backfield as well. Andy Janovich is a quality full back that had a 63.8 grade last season. There is not a lot of proven production from this unit, so someone is going to need to step up big time out of this room in 2022 to help take the ease off Mills and the passing game.
WR: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, John Metchie III, Chris Conley, Chris Moore, Phillip Dorsett II, Davion Davis, Jalen Camp, Chad Beebe, Connor Wedington, Drew Estrada, Johnny Johnson III
Explanation: This is a quietly solid position group for the Texans. Cooks was a 1,000-yard receiver last year with a rookie QB and is a good safety net for Mills. Nico Collins also had a decent year having 60 catches for 446 yards as a rookie; look for him to build upon those numbers in 2022. Metchie is a dynamic receiver coming from Alabama who was drafted in the second round. Altogether, these three make up a solid starting corps of receivers. Conley, Moore, and Dorsett are also all veterans and will help the young receivers out a ton while also chipping in themselves. This is a solid group for this offense and a strong suit for this team.
TE: Brevin Jordan, Pharaoh Brown, Teagan Quitoriano, Antony Auclair, Seth Green
Explanation: Jordan missed the beginning half of his rookie season but made an impact when he came back with 178 yards and three touchdowns. He will need to improve those numbers going into year two, but all signs are showing a massive jump going into the 2022 season. Pharaoh Brown has game experience but doesn’t produce at a high level in the passing game or bring a lot to the run game. This unit will depend on the jump Jordan is able to make.
OL: Laremy Tunsil, Kenyon Green, Justin Britt, AJ Cann, Tytus Howard, Charlie Heck, Justin McCray, Jimmy Morrissey, Max Scharping, Austin Deculus, Cedric Ogbuehi, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, Scott Quessenberry, Jordan Steckler, Myron Cunningham
Explanation: Tunsil highlights this group as a Pro Bowl caliber OT who missed most of last year due to a thumb injury. His health is of major importance to this group as they ranked last in run blocking in 2021. The Texans added Kenyon Green from Texas A&M in the first round to step in and play guard which should help improve this group as well. Britt is a solid run blocking center as well. Altogether, this was a unit that had to be shuffled around a ton in 2021. 10 different players played over 200 snaps. There is going to need to be more stability for this offensive line to improve in 2022.
DL: Jonathan Greenard, Maliek Collins, Ross Blacklock, Rasheem Green, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Thomas Booker, Roy Lopez, Mario Addison, Jordan Jenkins, Michael Dwumfour, Kurt Hinish, Jerry Hughes, Derek Rivers, Damion Daniels, Adedayo Odeleye, Demone Harris, Troy Hairston II
Explanation: Greenard had a solid year in his second season with 8 sacks and 2 FF, look for him to build upon that in 2022. Rasheem Green also had 6.5 sacks for the Seahawks last season. Collins has the run stuffing size and ability to add to the pass rush as well. Hughes and Okoronkwo are veterans that will add some production on the backend of the depth chart as well. Booker was picked in the fifth round of this past draft and Lopez had 30 tackles as a rookie, they should make an impact in their respective seasons. Overall, this is a group with not a ton of flash players but ones that will give production and do the job.
LB: Neville Hewitt, Christian Kirksey, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Blake Cashman, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Christian Harris, Garret Wallow, Tae Davis, Jake Hansen
Explanation: Kirksey and Grugier-Hill are the veterans of this group and had 93 total tackles and 108 a season ago, respectively. Grugier-Hill also tacked on 3 sacks and 2 FF. Christian Harris was taken in the third round of this past draft from Alabama and will be competing for playing time at one of the spots. Reeves-Maybin is a veteran that comes over from Detroit and can provide ample snaps. This is a group that is going to need more production from this unit. Turnovers and TFL will be a big focus heading into 2022.
CB: Derek Stingley Jr., Steven Nelson, Desmond King II, Fabian Moreau, Tremon Smith, Tavierre Thomas, Isaac Yiadom, Kendall Sheffield, Jacobi Francis
Explanation: a new look CB room headed into 2022. Stingley Jr. headlines this group as the number three overall pick in the draft. He broke out onto the scene as a freshman for LSU in 2019 but injuries and lack of production led to many question marks entering the draft. However, there is no denying the talent he possesses. It has yet to be seen if those skills will translate to the NFL. Steven Nelson is also a new face as he comes over from Philadelphia where he had a 63.6 defensive grade in 2021. Tavierre Thomas had a 76.1 coverage grade and will also be in the mix. How quickly Stingley Jr is able to adapt to the NFL is going to be the main focus of this unit in 2022. Overall, this is an improved group with new faces.
S: Eric Murray, Terrance Brooks, Jalen Pitre, MJ Stewart Jr., Jonathan Owens, Grayland Arnold, Tristin McCollum
Explanation: Murray and Brooks were the primary starters in 2021 and had 50.9 and 51.8 defensive grades last season, respectively. MJ Stewart Jr. comes from ace level and where he had an 83.8 grade with his 47 total tackles and one forced fumble. Jalen Pitre was also a high draft pick in the second round of this past draft and will be competing to start. This group will have competition during camp but looks improved based on the additions made in the off-season.