2012 NFL Draft: The Houston Texans' Biggest Needs

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistMarch 20, 2012

All the top images of Matt Schaub look roughly like this.
All the top images of Matt Schaub look roughly like this.Bob Levey/Getty Images

Welcome to the War Room.

Every day leading up to the draft, I'll be looking at the AFC South, wildly flailing my arms and frantically gesticulating in an effort convince you that I, and I alone, know exactly what each team will do.

Here's the truth: I don't.

I spend hours upon hours watching NFL football. I don't watch or enjoy the college game. I can't tell you if one player is better than another. I'm not entirely convinced that anyone can.

I strictly adhere to the philosophy of choosing the best available player and a team's needs fluctuate wildly.

Before the 2010 season, all anyone could talk about is how the Indianapolis Colts were absolutely loaded at wide receiver. Now all anyone can talk about is how Andrew Luck won't have anyone to throw to.

Today, we look at the draft needs of the Houston Texans.

Please remember that just because a team has a need, it doesn't mean they should draft a player to fill that need in the first round. If a team gets lucky, the best available player will happen to overlap with an area of need. Teams can't let that determine their choices, however.

If there's one thing you can never get enough of in the NFL, it's talent.

The Texans ended 2011 with a precious few needs.

By DVOA, they ranked in the top 10 in pass defense, pass offense, run defense and run offense. At one point in the season, they were the top rated team in the NFL, and appeared to be a serious contender for the Super Bowl.

The only problem is that since the end of the season, Houston lost multiple starters as well as a solid backup in Jason Allen. The Texans are tasked with replacing Brisiel, Winston, and Mario Williams, all while trying to get better.


1. Offensive Tackle. Texans' fans get defensive when Matt Schaub's health is called into question, but he has only played two full seasons in his career. He also has a sack rate that hovers around 5 percent.

In a high volume passing offense, Shaub is going to take 30 or more sacks a year. The Texans have to do everything possible to keep him upright, and they just lost one of the best right tackles in the game.

2. Wide Receiver. Andre Johnson may be the best wide receiver in the game, but he's on the wrong side of 30, and he's missed 12 games in the past two years.

Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones are not the answer as the Texans need to diversify their offense. Daniels and Foster did the heavy lifting last year, but neither of them have been entirely healthy either.

3. Pass rusher. The great part about Wade Phillips' scheme is that this spot isn't necessarily limited to one kind of player.

Phillips can turn many different body types into a weapon.

The team got 11 sacks from linebacker Conner Barwin while still getting a total of 12 from Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt. They aren't going to replace Mario Williams from the back end of the first round, but they don't have to.

Houston can continue to build their defense through interchangeable parts. As long as the pressure keeps coming from up front, the Texans defense will remain formidable.