Early Projections for Houston Texans' Final 53-Man Roster
The Houston Texans have months on their hands between now and opening night to make their final roster decisions, as they attempt to whittle it down to 53.
There could still be notable transactions to be made and injuries can always change things in a heartbeat, as always in the ever-changing world of the NFL.
Still, at this point, the major additions have been made, but it's never too early to start figuring out how the roster will look after final cuts.
Continue reading on to see what the Houston Texans' final 53-man roster could look like.
Total Kept: 2
Quarterback is pretty straight forward for a second year in a row for the Texans. Matt Schaub is obviously the entrenched starter and T.J. Yates will again be entrusted as the all-important backup.
Yates will need to improve on his forgettable preseason performance from last year, but overall, it's pretty nice having a backup QB with a playoff win under his belt.
Stephen McGee, Case Keenum and Collin Klein will get plenty of snaps in preseason, but no one should expect any of them to convince the Texans to keep three quarterbacks.
Total Kept: 4
Running back will be the position to monitor all throughout camp and preseason. Arian Foster and Ben Tate won't be the only running backs on the final 53.
Ray Graham has the best shot to make roster out of the group given his talent. Dennis Johnson could make the most of an opportunity in camp and run his way onto the roster. He and the rest of the backs behind Tate and Foster will have plenty of reps in camp and preseason to make the team.
In the end, Johnson's production in preseason will force the organization's hand. The Texans have released fringe NFL running backs with lesser talent than Johnson before final cut in previous seasons and saw them scooped up immediately by other teams. They won't make that mistake with Johnson.
Total Kept: 2
It's too soon to tell if Zach Boren, an undrafted free agent, can come to camp and beat out Tyler Clutts for the second fullback spot. He certainly has the talent, and it'll likely come down to who is the better special teamer.
Clutts' experience in the league could carry him in the final decision. If the Texans are confident they can release Boren and bring him back on the practice squad, they could go that route.
Total Kept: 6
There shouldn't be any difficult cuts with the wide receiver group.
The biggest long shot of the wideouts, Alan Bonner, already seems to be a favorite of Gary Kubiak's and the early praise of him seems to indicate interest in keeping him around long term.
Jean, Martin and Bonner should be expected to compete for rotational reps behind Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. It's probably safe to assume Hopkins will start opposite of Andre, though it remains to be seen if he'll hold down the spot. It'd be a shocker if he didn't.
Posey's status is clouded a bit with his recovery from his Achilles injury, but fans should expect a patient approach with him. He could possibly open the season on the PUP list.
Total Kept: 3
It's funny to think Owen Daniels is the lone wolf still standing from the 2006 draft class. With OD giving Kubiak exactly what he wants at the position, you can probably book him for another 50-60 catches and 600-700 yards.
Garrett Graham will face some competition for the No. 2 tight end job. Entering 2013, Houston finds itself adding another talent to one of the more stable position groups on the roster.
Ryan Griffin fits what Kubiak looks for in tight ends. The sixth-round pick from this year's draft will be the biggest amongst the group at 6'6" and 261 pounds. He's more than just a big blocking tight end and has some vertical speed to his game. Expect him to make the roster, play on all special teams and ease his way on to the offense in time.
Total Kept: 4
Duane Brown has become a bedrock at left tackle for the Texans. They're hoping Brennan Williams steps in day one and becomes that on the right side.
Derek Newton's recovery from major offseason surgery puts him in a tough spot to win his starting job back. Kubiak wouldn't have endorsed picking Brennan Williams in the third round if he didn't think he could contribute right away.
The Texans could take the swing tackle approach with Newton and have him fill in as the first tackle off the bench at either spot. A much more likely scenario is keeping Andrew Gardner around as Brown's backup, leaving Newton as the backup right tackle.
The position battle to watch here seems to be between Andrew Gardner and Ryan Harris for the last tackle spot. Because Gardner has more left tackle ability than Harris, he has the better shot at making the team.
Total Kept: 5
Like receiver, don't expect any surprising cuts in the interior offense line group. The Texans have really solid depth here with some young legs behind a couple savvy veterans.
Wade Smith and Chris Myers enter as entrenched starters. Expect Brandon Brooks to be plugged in as the starter at right guard. He was eased along slowly last year, but was downright dominant at times and showed he could be the team's best guard very soon. This move would put Ben Jones in a backup role at all three of the interior line spots, a role he's very well-suited to fill.
David Quessenberry is a bit of a wild card in this group. It remains to be seen if he'll play tackle or guard initially. Regardless of his exact position, he's all but a lock to make the roster after the Texans traded up to draft him. Guard might be his best position and least difficult path to getting on the field.
The Texans have one of the best guard/center situations in the NFL because of the established players they have combined with the upside of their young players here.
Total Kept: 4
We know what to expect from the all-world J.J. Watt, and Antonio Smith has been one of the more underrated interior forces in football for a while now.
Jared Crick was thrust into a bigger role than anyone expected when Tim Jamison's season was cut short by injury. He didn't give the Texans the same pass rush Jamison did, but he showed a few flashes of promise during his stint in the lineup.
Crick and Jamison will again battle for the backup snaps behind Watt and Smith. Crick will need to take a pretty sizable jump in his development if he's going to wrestle snaps away from Jamison.
Total Kept: 2
Most probably wanted to see nose tackle addressed more aggressively, but it's clear Wade Phillips has plenty of confidence in Earl Mitchell as the starter.
It might seem surprising to see sixth-round pick Chris Jones make the roster. Considering the Texans have carried two nose tackles since Wade Phillips took over the defense, it really shouldn't be.
The MAC defensive player of the year for Bowling Green will end up on the field with the defense much sooner than most expect. He'll push Mitchell for snaps right away.
Total Kept: 8
As expected, the Texans have played it coy with their linebacker plans since the draft ended.
It might be safe to begin to assume Brooks Reed will take over at inside linebacker next to Cushing. In that scenario, third-round pick Sam Montgomery would start as the SAM linebacker.
If it plays out that way, the backups behind them then fall into place. Trevardo Williams will back up Whitney Mercilus, assuming last year's first-round pick doesn't get beat out for his starting job in camp. Braman remains a special teams force and the last outside linebacker off the bench.
Sharpton and Dobbins are much better suited as backups who can help out on the defense if needed. Dobbins has contributed on goal-line snaps under Wade as well—a role he can continue to fill.
Total Kept: 6
The Texans know what they're going to get from starters Joseph and Jackson. McCain can be expected to fill in at nickel corner, but could be pushed by Brandon Harris for the job.
It's possible Roc Carmichael could be fighting for his roster spot, but it's difficult to tell in just the small sample of playing time to this point in his career. The former fourth-round pick has been eased along slowly and hasn't been tested on the field enough to fairly judge if he can hack it in the NFL.
Harris and Carmichael should be expected to play a bunch in the preseason. Both have risen up the depth chart at a snail's pace since they've been drafted, so it could be finally time to test them with tons of preseason snaps.
Johnny Adams might literally be the last player to make the team. The fact that corners are at such a premium in today's NFL will make it very difficult to cut Adams. He's one of the most talented undrafted free agents the Texans signed, and he will make an NFL roster if it isn't in Houston.
Total Kept: 4
The Texans should be expected to do everything in their power to get Ed Reed to Week 1 healthy and ready to go. That could mean less snaps for him and more for Manning and the rookie second-round pick Swearinger.
Shiloh Keo is the surprise name to make the team in this group given his previous struggles when playing on the defense. He still holds special teams value and is one of the better contributors on that unit.
Swearinger will be more than just the third safety, as he should be expected to be a "starter" on the team's nickel packages. By year's end, he could move his way into being a full-time starter with Manning moving to the backup safety role.
Total Kept: 3
No competition has been brought in for Randy Bullock, which should be taken as a positive.
That's rare confidence from Kubiak in such an unproven player, especially at a position where you don't usually see the Texans go young.
The signing of Lechler will be a positive for the offense and defense with the change of field position his big leg will provide. Jon Weeks is all but a lock to make it as the long snapper.