Houston is coming off of its best record (9-7) since its inception, and all eyes are on a playoff berth for the 2010 season. In an effort to maintain the integrity of last year's relative success, the front office opted to retain head coach Gary Kubiak, a move that may create a greater sense of urgency in the play-calling this year.
Now, with holes in the defensive backfield and nagging inconsistencies at running back, the Texans are poised for a pivotal draft and another potentially marquee season.
Biggest Needs: G, RB, WR
Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are quickly becoming the most electric quarterback/wide receiver duo in the nation. The two connected for over 1500 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009 and will look to raise the bar in '10.
However, Johnson isn't getting any younger and it may be time to draft a developmental wide out. Schaub could use any weapons he can get right now and with over half of the current receivers eying the tail end of their contracts, Houston could benefit by bolstering their receiver corps with a little much-needed youth.
It's no secret that Houston struggled to establish an effective running game last season and part of the reason is their lack of adequate talent on the interior of their offensive line. The front office would do well to address those needs this off season.
Idaho's Mike Iupati is the only guard in this class worthy of a first or second-round pick, though he may not be available at Houston's 20th spot. Jon Jerry of Ole Miss and Sergio Render of Virginia Tech both have the size to bulk up the line and the quick feet to create the running lanes the team so desperately needs.
When Steve Slaton was drafted two years ago, fans of Texans nation were sure they had found their franchise rusher. After a disappointing sophomore slump, though, the need for an effective complementary back has arisen.
The tandem back system has become the norm in the NFL and Houston will look to follow suit by drafting a downhill runner to punch it in the end zone and add a little beef to their otherwise lachrymose running game. LSU's Charles Scott or Fresno State's Ryan Mathews would make the most sense for the team.
Biggest Needs: DT, CB, S
Mario Williams is easily one of the most dominating defensive ends in the league, but his pass-rushing skills will never reach their potential without a better contributing secondary. With Robinson on his way to Atlanta, Houston will likely address their needs at corner with their first pick in the draft.
Florida's Joe Haden, Florida State's Patrick Robinson, and Boise State's Kyle Wilson are the leading prospects in their class and it's unlikely they will all be off the board before Houston gets a chance to grab them at the 20th position.
Kyle Wilson would be the ultimate selection for the team, as he brings versatility to the position. The former Boise State defensive star can play both sides of the field and either safety position. He has frighteningly fast feet and has run support skills that surpass any other defensive back in his class.
With Williams and Antonio Smith on the outside, the Texans' only glaring need on the defensive line is in the middle. Although it's doubtful the team will look to their first round pick to address these needs, there is plenty of talent throughout the later rounds to find an adequate tackle.
Brian Price out of UCLA would be a great fit for this team. He has NFL size and can tie up multiple defenders in run support. He doesn't have his pass-rushing technique polished down yet, but in time, he will be a dominating tackle who can serve as an anchor for the defense in the future.
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