Houston Texans: The Top 10 Players in the Team's First Decade

Ben Heck@@benheckONContributor IIIFebruary 26, 2011

Houston Texans: The Top 10 Players in the Team's First Decade

0 of 13

    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The first game of the 2011 season—if the NFL lives to see that day, that is—will mark the beginning of the Houston Texans' 10th season of existence.

    With the league's youngest franchise closing in on a decade, I think it's about time we take a look at the best players to put on Texan uniform.

    Considering Houston has yet to make the playoffs in its nine seasons, it was tough to find 10 players that were great throughout their entire careers, meaning a few of them had just a couple great years, if that. I even included a couple of honorable mentions and what I like to call up-and-comers.

    If you read to the end I added on a "special guest" appearance, A.K.A. the franchise's biggest draft bust. You likely already know who I'm referring to, but if not you will surely find out soon enough.

Honorable Mentions

1 of 13

    HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 29:  Running back Steve Slaton #20 of the Houston Texans carries the ball against the Indianapolis Colts on November 29, 2009  at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Colts won 35-27.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    *Steve Slaton, RB

    Sorry, Steve. One great season doesn't quite get you on the list. The potential was surely there though.

    *Aaron Glenn, CB

    In three seasons he picked off 11 passes and was named to a Pro Bowl. Not too bad for a Houston Texan. Not even the greatest cornerback in team history, though.

    *Gary Walker, DT/DE

    At this point in his career, Walker was moved to defensive end and wasn't the same player he was in Jacksonville. He did, however, have a solid first year in Houston (made Pro Bowl in 2002).

Up-and-Comer: Arian Foster, RB

2 of 13

    HOUSTON - JANUARY 02:  Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans rushes for major yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Foster broke onto the scene with a franchise single-game record of 231 yards and three rushing touchdowns against the Colts in this season's Week 1 matchup.

    Taking over after a couple of injuries to the backfield, Foster made 13 starts in just his second NFL season, and ended it with two more franchise records: 1,616 yards, 16 rushing touchdowns in a single-season. At age 24, it looks like Foster will be the guy in Houston for another four or five years.

10. Brian Cushing, LB

3 of 13

    HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10:  Linebacker Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans tries to get the crowd into the game against the New York Giants at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    There are two things that factor into my decision at ranking Cushing so low on the list.

    Reason No. 1: He has played just two seasons.

    Reason No. 2: He was suspended for four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, meaning he played just 12 games this season.

    Cushing, the NFL's top defensive rookie in 2009, is already a pretty feared linebacker in Houston, but with just 28 starts it wouldn't be fair to have him ranked any higher than ninth. Give him a few years and he will be top five material.

9. Owen Daniels, TE

4 of 13

    DENVER - DECEMBER 26:  Wide receiver Owen Daniels #91 of the Houston Texas makes a first quarter touchdown reception in front of D.J. Williams #55 of the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos de
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Daniels has yet to break 1,000 receiving yards, but as a tight end in the league that's acceptable. Daniels' play has been consistent, when he is on the field, that is.

    In the past two years he has missed 13 games, but if he can stay healthy in 2011 this team could have a shot at finally making a run at the Wild Card.

8. Amobi Okoye, DT

5 of 13

    HOUSTON - OCTOBER 17:  Defensive tackle Amobi Akoye #91 of the Houston Texans sacks quarterback Matt Cassel of the Kansas City Chiefs on the final play of the game to secure a 35-31 win at Reliant Stadium on October 17, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Responsible for plugging the middle of the defensive line, Okoye entered the league at age 20 (first round pick in 2007) and made an immediate impact, recording 23 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his rookie season.

    Now 23, the 300-pound lineman has been anchoring Houston's defensive line for four solid years and still has plenty more in him. If he can make such a great impact at age 20, who knows how great he'll do with five more years of wisdom and experience under his belt.

7. Kris Brown, K

6 of 13

    GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 14:  Kicker Kris Brown #3 of the Houston Texans attempts a field goal against the Arizona Cardinals during preseason NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 14, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Te
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    With Houston from the start (in 2002), Brown was Mr. Reliable when it came to the kicking game. In his eight seasons as Houston's placekicker, Brown missed just two extra points in 253 attempts. As the franchise's all-time points leader (767), there's just no way I could have left Kris Brown off the list.

6. Dunta Robinson, CB

7 of 13

    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    No longer a Texan, Dunta surely made a name for himself while solidifying the right side of the field. Drafted by Houston with the 10th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Robinson made a name for himself as a Texan, shutting down great receivers.

    His six interception, three sack rookie season put him on the scene right off the bat. However, rocky 2007 and 2008 campaigns hurt his chances of being named to a Pro Bowl. Now in Atlanta, Robinson is still known as Houston's best cornerback.

5. Domanick Williams, RB

8 of 13

    HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 27:  Running back Domanick Davis #37 of the Houston Texans runs the ball against the St. Louis Rams on November 27, 2005 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Rams defeated the Texans 33-27 in overtime.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Ge
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Formerly known as Domanick Davis when he won NFL Rookie of the Year in 2003, Williams is the Texans' all-time leading rusher (3,195).

    Williams put up great numbers in his first two seasons with the team, rushing for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the two. This led to a contract extension, but after a disappointing 2005 season (976 yards, two touchdowns), the Texans released him and he hasn't played again in the league since then.

4. Matt Schaub, QB

9 of 13

    DENVER - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  The Denver Broncos defeated the Houston Tex
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    In just four short seasons as the team's signal caller, Schaub quickly became Houston's all-time passing leader (14,424) with 77 touchdown passes and an overall record of 25-29. The record may not sound great, but for Houston, it really is.

    Not quite 30 years old yet, Schaub still has time to lead Houston to its first postseason appearance in team history, especially if they get everyone back and healthy in 2011.

3. DeMeco Ryans, LB

10 of 13

    HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 29: Running back Joseph Adai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by linebacker DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    A very underrated linebacker, the absence of Ryans in 10 games this season was the main reason why Houston's defense struggled so much (32nd against pass).

    The 26-year-old middle linebacker has just 8.5 sacks and two interceptions in five seasons, but has recorded 86 or more solo tackles from 2006-2009, including 126 in his rookie campaign.

    One of just three Texans to take part in multiple Pro Bowls, Ryans is a force to be reckoned with in the passing game. Try not to underestimate him too much or you will have to pay the price.

2. Mario Williams, DE

11 of 13

    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 21:  Mario Williams #90 of the Houston Texans in action during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on August 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    One of the most dangerous defenders coming off the edge (among Dwight Freeney, DeMarcus Ware and a few others, of course), Williams is a nightmare for offensive tackles.

    The first overall pick in the 2006 draft, Williams has missed just three starts in his five seasons, and even when he isn't getting the quarterback on the ground (his 48 career sacks is by far the most in franchise history), he is at least scaring them in to throwing the ball much earlier than anticipated.

    I think Williams has proven to Houston's front office that they made the right choice in drafting him over New Orleans' Reggie Bush back in 2006.

1. Andre Johnson, WR

12 of 13

    HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Wide receiver Andre Johnson #80 of the Houston Texans scores on a pass as he goes over safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium on December 13, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob L
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    This one is a no-doubter.

    Johnson is finally getting the credit he deserves for being one of the most gifted and talented receivers in the National Football League. Not only does Johnson have great speed, but his 6'3'' frame makes it nearly impossible for defensive backs to effectively cover him down the field.

    Schaub has the luxury of just being able to throw a ball up for grabs and knowing Johnson will come down with the pass. His numbers of five Pro Bowl appearances, three First Team All-Pro, 673 receptions, 9,164 receiving yards, 50 touchdown catches are all franchise records and speak for themselves.

    Andre Johnson: Greatest Houston Texan of All-Time

And Finally, a Special Guest: David Carr, QB (2002 Draft Bust)

13 of 13

    FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 17: David Carr #8 of the Houston Texans is sacked by Rosevelt Colvin #59 by the New England Patriots on December 17, 2006 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Houston Texans 40-7. (Pho
    Elsa/Getty Images

    OK, now that we have the greatest figured out, it's time to figure out the worst.

    To me, that's another no-brainer. When you think of Houston Texan quarterbacks, you don't think of how Matt Schaub threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2009. You think of how badly Houston got burned with its first draft choice in the team's history.

    In 2002, they took a young guy by the name of David Carr, coming fresh out of Fresno State. He became starter right away and secured the job for five seasons, making 75 starts for the team.

    What do they get out of him? A 22-53 overall record, 59 touchdown passes, 65 interceptions and a 75.5 quarterback rating. Talk about BLAH.

    David Carr: Biggest Houston Texan Draft Bust of All-Time

    Article also published here: http://bensalloutblitz.blogspot.com/