Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for the Houston Texans
The 2013 NFL draft is officially over, and all 32 teams have, hopefully, improved themselves going forward. The Houston Texans finally got the number two wideout they sorely needed, and filled holes elsewhere in the depth chart as well.
With undrafted free agents being signed, now is the time to move forward. There are positions where there will be offseason battles, and there are positions that are still question marks for the team.
Here is the initial post-draft depth chart, factoring in all draft picks as well as any immediate undrafted free-agent signings worth noting.
Projected Depth Chart: Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum, Collin Klein, Stephen McGee
This is an easy place to start. Matt Schaub is the starter, and T.J. Yates is the backup. Since they did not draft a quarterback, the only question in training camp is whether they will have two or three.
If they keep three quarterbacks this year, then that third spot will be a battle between Case Keenum and Collin Klein. Keenum was undrafted last year and served on the team's practice squad. Klein was undrafted this year and just signed today, and could battle for the practice squad role.
It's not much of a battle, as it would be shocking if either supplanted Yates, but Klein is a battler and could end up sticking around longer than expected. McGee remains on the roster for now, but I don't see that lasting long.
Projected Depth Chart (RB): Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Ray Graham, Dennis Johnson, Cierre Wood
Projected Depth Chart (FB): Greg Jones, Tyler Clutts, Zach Boren
For the fullback position, new acquisition Greg Jones will be the clear starter, with Tyler Clutts and Zach Boren competing for the backup spot. For running back, the depth chart is more dynamic.
Arian Foster is the no-brainer to start, with Ben Tate as the primary backup. However, Ray Graham, Cierre Wood and Dennis Johnson all signed as UDFAs.
There's no way the Texans only keep two running backs, so Graham, Wood and Johnson will all be fighting for that last open spot, and as a result, we'll see the best they have to offer. Due to their skill sets as running backs, I think Graham and Johnson have a slight edge on Wood as the third option.
Projected Depth Chart: Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keshawn Martin, Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey, Alan Bonner, Uzoma Nwachukwu, Michael Smith, Jeff Maehl
Seven potential wide receivers on the team isn't half bad heading into camp. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins are no-brainers as the starters heading into next season, but the depth chart battle could be interesting.
Martin and Bonner have similar skill sets, and since Martin is the kick returner, it's possible both could take up roster spots. Lestar Jean and DeVier Posey are still young, but could fall down the chart if Bonner shocks everyone, and Posey's late-season injury didn't help him.
Nwachukwu and Smith were UDFA additions hoping to make the team. As for Maehl, lasting two seasons on the practice squad wasn't all that bad.
Projected Depth Chart: Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham, Ryan Griffin
Here's another easy one. The Texans have their starter in Daniels, the primary backup in Graham and the drafted project in Griffin. It's entirely possible that all three make the team, and with no UDFA signings to speak of, it's a position that will likely cause no drama this offseason.
Projected Depth Chart: Duane Brown (LT1), Ryan Harris (LT2), Derek Newton (RT1), Brennan Williams (RT2), Nick Mondek, Dann O’Neill
I'm combining tackles and guards here because of the way the Texans are building this offensive line, through versatility. The tackle position for the Texans is pretty much set going forward.
All-Pro Duane Brown stays at left tackle, with Ryan Harris backing him up. Derek Newton will start at right tackle, but rookie Brennan Williams could see some playing time, and Nick Mondek may be a guy kept just for third-string depth.
As for where fellow drafted tackle David Quessenberry is...
Projected Depth Chart: Chris Myers (C1), Ben Jones (RG1/C2), Wade Smith (LG1/C2), David Quessenberry, Brandon Brooks, Andrew Gardner, Graham Pocic
The way the Texans run the middle of their line is confusing but effective. Chris Myers primarily plays center while Ben Jones and Wade Smith anchor the guard spots. Should Myers have to take plays off or miss time, there is no true backup, Jones or Smith just moves to center.
While Pocic could make the team as a backup there, They will likely instead convert tackle David Quessenberry to guard and use him as a primary backup along with Brandon Brooks and Andrew Gardner.
In other words, for depth, there's going to be a major battle here throughout the offseason, made tougher by the fact that Brooks was a third-round pick only last year. He's not ready to lose to a rookie taken in Round 6.
Projected Depth Chart: J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, Jared Crick, Tim Jamison, Keith Browner, Willie Jefferson, Earl Okine
Despite all the draft moves, none of the defensive ends selected are actually going to play that position. As is the case with a good amount of the defense, their starters are established, but the backups are a big question mark.
J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith are set, as is Jared Crick as a main backup. Tim Jamison has served well in that regard, but he may be battling against practice squad veteran Keith Browner.
Willie Jefferson and Earl Okine are UDFAs that are on no one's radar, and I don't see them making much of an impact.
Projected Depth Chart: Earl Mitchell, Chris Jones, Terrell McClain, Ra'Shon Harris
Defensive tackle remains a position that's not all that strong for the Texans. Earl Mitchell may not be starter material, and Chris Jones was a late-round pick who could be a solid backup, but may not be able to start yet.
Terrell McClain saw a bit of playing time and could be extra depth, and Ra'Shon Harris hasn't played on the field in a long time, and if he made the team, it would speak volumes about the depth, or lack thereof.
Projected Depth Chart: Whitney Mercilus, Brooks Reed or Sam Montgomery, Bryan Braman, Trevardo Williams, Ja'Gared Davis, Kenny Demens
On the surface, the above with Brooks Reed and Sam Montgomery sounds ridiculous, but they drafted the way they did for a reason. One of those two will be moving to inside linebacker depending on how camp goes.
The linebacker position is currently the one that will have all the upheaval. On the outside edge, Mercilus has a starting job, and Williams, Reed and even Montgomery and Braman will be competing for that second one; all will likely make the team.
Projected Depth Chart: Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed or Sam Montgomery, Darryl Sharpton, Tim Dobbins, Justin Tuggle, Mike Mohamed
Inside linebacker, just like outside, is a mess. Brian Cushing is a no-brainer as a starter, but everything else is completely up in the air.
Darryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins provide depth, though neither would be starters, and Reed or Montgomery could move inside depending on the latter's development. Meanwhile, Justin Tuggle is a likely UDFA to actually make the team.
Projected Depth Chart: Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Brice McCain, Brandon Harris, Roc Carmichael, Johnny Adams, Travis Howard
The depth battle at cornerback could be one of the most interesting parts of the offseason. Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are obviously the starters, and Brice McCain has served well as a backup.
The other spot or two, however, is wide open. They didn't draft a corner so Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael may feel comfortable, but the two have been disappointing draft picks so far, and you can't count out the UDFAs.
Travis Howard was a nice college player, and Johnny Adams is the free agent I'm highest on out of anyone in the batch. He's the one most likely to usurp a spot from Carmichael or Harris.
Projected Depth Chart: Ed Reed, Danieal Manning, D.J. Swearinger, Shiloh Keo, Eddie Pleasant, Orhian Johnson
The Texans did not let the loss of Glover Quin hurt their secondary, having fixed safety both through free agency and the draft. Ed Reed and Danieal Manning are obvious to start at free safety and strong safety, respectively.
Rookie draft pick D.J. Swearinger will be the primary backup, and Shiloh Keo will likely turn into the primary strong safety backup, unless Eddie Pleasant or Orhian Johnson can unseat him.
Projected Depth Chart: Randy Bullock (K), Shane Lechler (P), Jon Weeks (LS)
The Texans brought on no one to compete against the special teams players, and since Bullock hasn't really had an opportunity yet even though they drafted him last year, they are not going to mess with this section of the team.
Projected Final Roster
QB (2): Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates
RB (3): Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Dennis Johnson
FB (2): Greg Jones, Zach Boren
WR (6): Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keshawn Martin, Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey, Alan Bonner
TE (3): Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham, Ryan Griffin
T (5): Duane Brown, Ryan Harris, Derek Newton, Brennan Williams, Nick Mondek
G/C (5): Chris Myers, Ben Jones, Wade Smith, David Quessenberry, Brandon Brooks
DE (4): J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, Jared Crick, Keith Browner
DT (3): Earl Mitchell, Chris Jones, Terrell McClain
OLB (4): Whitney Mercilus, Brooks Reed, Bryan Braman, Trevardo Williams
ILB (4): Brian Cushing, Sam Montgomery, Darryl Sharpton, Tim Dobbins
CB (5): Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Brice McCain, Brandon Harris, Johnny Adams
S (4): Ed Reed, Danieal Manning, D.J. Swearinger, Shiloh Keo
ST (3): Randy Bullock, Shane Lechler, Jon Weeks