Inside Linebacker: Once Brian Cushing was placed on the IR, the harsh reality of the Texans linebacker situation made a dramatic appearance. The best of the rest of the bunch was Bradie James. Old and slow, it is unlikely that he will return for next season.
Then came Tim Dobbins and Darryl Sharpton, who, despite being of semi-starter quality, were too injury prone to remain consistent contributors. The replacement for the two oft-injured reserve linebackers was Barrett Ruud, who started both playoff games for the Texans. Lets just say that experiment did not work out too well.
Many argue that drafting a second linebacker to start alongside Cushing it not that important, as the Texans rely on nickel and dime packages, which ship out the second linebacker for an extra defensive back. However, the main reason the Texans often run such packages is because they lack capable coverage linebackers behind Cushing.
With an athletic linebacker who could both stop the run and cover linebackers and slot receivers, the Texans defense would be able to remain in the 3-4 scheme more often. This would allow the defense to generate much more of a pass rush, which would in turn greatly benefit the secondary.
Finding that type of linebacker should be one of the top priorities in this year's draft, as it could truly help restore the defense to its dominant status.
Nose Tackle: If you watch a Texans game, you will not really notice anything wrong with the team's nose tackles. They don't seem to give up much big plays, and they occasionally make a tackle or two. Certainly they aren't detrimental to the defense's success.
The nose tackles—Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell to be exact—however, do not do anything to contribute to the defense's success, either. They are just average players who fulfill their role and don't get in the way.
With a playmaking, game-changing nose tackle, the Texans defense can ascend to new heights. For starters, an extremely large nose tackle might be able to command double teams based on his size alone, and this would open up pass-rushing gaps for J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith and Brooks Reed that they would have never seen before.
Furthermore, a large nose tackle would be able to occupy more space on running plays, which would allow the Texans inside linebacker to more effectively make plays on the ball.
A mountainous, unstoppable force of a nose tackle is just what the defense needs.
Offensive Line: The right side of the offensive line was what truly doomed the Texans offense. The offense is dependent on a consistent running game, and once one pairs an inconsistent offensive line with that type of offense, the result is often disastrous.
Too often the right side of the offensive line was unable to grant Arian Foster running room, which would force the Texans to constantly run the ball to the left side. This would make the offense predictable and easy to stop.
The right side of the line, also, was ineffective in pass protection. Matt Schaub was consistently under pressure when the right side struggled. And when your quarterback is one of the most immobile ones in the NFL, consistent pressure is usually a nightmare.
The Texans have two ways to deal with this issue. The first is to develop their young players on the right side, as they have done in the past, and hope that they can dramatically improve. The second is to select their replacements early on in this year's draft.
Quite honestly, it would be foolish for the Texans to not take a lineman early on. They need to create a fierce competition between the old starters and the new draftees, and ensure that the best players claim the starting jobs.
Wide Receiver: When the second receiver on the depth chart on your team is named Kevin Walter, you know your team is in trouble. Unfortunately for the Texans, Walter's critically acclaimed blocking skills could not help the offense push the ball downfield.
Walter sputtered and died towards the end of the season, and he rarely received for more than thirty yards. Due to the inexperience of the receivers behind him in DeVier Posey, Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin, he was miraculously able to keep his starting job.
This terrible situation does not get better for the Texans. Posey, the most promising young receiver, suffered an Achilles' injury in the Texans final playoff game, an injury that will likely sideline him for the entirety of 2013.
The Texans desperately need to be able to stretch the field in order to open up running room for Foster, and they will not be able to do that with their current core of receivers.
Finding a playmaking receiver should be a priority in the draft.