Offseason review: Houston Texans

Pre-draft needs

OLB, CB, SS, FS, DE, WR

Draft class

Round 1: J.J. Watt, DE

Round 2: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB

Round 2: Brandon Harris, CB

Round 4: Rashad Carmichael, CB

Round 5: Shiloh Keo, SS

Round 5: T.J. Yates, QB

Round 7: Derek Newton, OL

Round 7: Cheta Ozougwu, OLB

Potential free agents of note

Vonta Leach, FB

Jacoby Jones, WR

Mike Brisiel, G

Kasey Studdard, G

Rashad Butler, OT

Zac Diles, WLB

Kevin Bentley, LB

Bernard Pollard, SS

Matt Turk, P

Post-draft needs

CB (veteran), OLB (depth), SS (veteran), FS, FB, DE (depth), G (depth), WR (depth), OT (depth), P

Analysis

The Texans, with plenty of needs on defense, addressed that side of the ball with their first five selections.

With the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme under new coordinator Wade Phillips, defensive linemen were a major need coming into the draft, so the selection of end J.J. Watt in the first round shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’ll be expected to start this season since veteran Mario Williams is being moved to outside linebacker. Watt and veteran Antonio Smith should form a very solid tandem. 2007 first-round pick Amobi Okoye, the team’s 2007 first-round pick, projects to compete for playing time behind Watt and Smith.

Second-round pick Brooks Reed figures to be a backup as a rookie, but it’s not out of the question that he starts or sees a lot of playing time as the season progresses. Not only is Williams changing positions, but the player projected to play opposite him, Connor Barwin, missed all but the opening game last season because of injury. And he’s also moving from end to linebacker. Reed, who showed outstanding movement and transition skills during Senior Bowl practices back in January, has better quickness off the edge.

The Texans addressed their obvious need at cornerback picking Brandon Harris with their other second-round selection, but depth isn’t the issue at the position. Veteran talent remains the first priority on the back end. The Texans’ secondary gave up more than 267 yards a game last season (worst in the NFL). Not having anyone to challenge rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson last season turned out to be a major mistake.

Although fifth-round pick Shiloh Keo is an intriguing player and could start at some point, the strong safety job is up for grabs. Veteran Bernard Pollard, who is unsigned, is a big hitter but lacks good enough coverage skills. The free safety job became open after the team released veteran Eugene Wilson in February.

Since the Texans have such a strong offense, not much needed to be addressed for the side of the ball in the draft. But the team decided to look toward upgrading the depth at quarterback with the selection of T.J. Yates in the fifth round. Personnel sources said the right-handed passer should be a very good fit for Houston’s West Coast offensive scheme. He’ll be expected to compete for the No. 2 job in his second season.

If the Texans lose fifth-year wide receiver Jacoby Jones in free agency, look for the team to take an in-depth look at second-year wide receiver Dorin Dickerson in training camp. The former college tight end, who only saw 25 snaps on offense as a rookie, is an intriguing player.