After aggressively building a talent-rich draft class and finding some free agent gems, there’s a lot of optimism and excitement surrounding the new-look Houston Texans under new head coach DeMeco Ryans.
With the NFL schedule release and rookie minicamp coming up, let’s take a look at the Texans‘ updated depth chart and break down every starter at each position following the 2023 NFL Draft.
Starter: C.J. Stroud
One of the leading contenders for the Offensive Rookie of the Year, C.J. Stroud is a pro-ready prospect with the desired size, arm strength, pocket movement, and pinpoint ball placement to be a true franchise quarterback.
Stroud also has a real shot to deliver on some of the Texans’ intriguing season specials. He’s backed up on the Texans’ depth chart by 2020 third-round pick Davis Mills and veteran Case Keenum.
Starter: Dameon Pierce
One of the few bright spots of the Texans’ 2022 season was Dameon Pierce. The RB burst onto the scene with a terrific rookie campaign, rushing for 939 yards and four scores on 220 carries (4.3 YPC) through 13 games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
Renown for his angry running style, Pierce looks poised for a breakout year, while free agent addition Devin Singletary provides plenty of juice in a complimentary role. Rookie UDFA Xazavian Valladay also has a real shot at the No.3 RB job.
Starter: Andrew Beck
An eyebrow-raising signing (two-year, $6.75 million deal) at the onset of free agency, Andrew Beck is fully expected to win the starting position over Troy Hairston, a 2022 undrafted free agent.
Starters: Nico Collins, John Metchie, Robert Woods
A versatile, instinctive receiver and proficient route-runner, John Metchie returns healthy after beating cancer. The No. 44 overall pick in last year’s draft has a legitimate chance to emerge as the top target for C.J. Stroud. Nico Collins and free agent addition Robert Woods will likely operate as the top two primary boundary receivers at the start of the season, but Metchie will siphon some snaps on the outside as well.
Third-round rookie receiver Tank Dell, who Stroud actually recruited to stay in Houston, could also earn a prominent role quickly, thanks to his smooth route running and exceptional vertical quickness and body control. Veteran Noah Brown and rookie Xavier Hutchinson will also compete for snaps towards the bottom of the WR depth chart.
Starter: Dalton Schultz
One of this year’s top free agents, Dalton Schultz took his talents to Houston on a team-friendly one-year, $6.5 million deal. An impressive run blocker and a very reliable, chain-moving target in the passing game, Schultz will be a key asset for the Texans’ rookie quarterback. Second-year tight end Teagan Quitoriano will back up Schultz.
LT: Laremy Tunsil
LG: Kenyon Green
C: Juice Scruggs
RG: Shaq Mason
RT: Tytus Howard
After recently making significant investments, Houston’s offensive line is finally coming together. Juice Scruggs offers significant upside to help bolster one of the league’s worst interior offensive lines from last season.
Aside from just staying healthy, the biggest key for the offensive line will be having a smooth transition to more of an outside zone scheme. They’ll need Scruggs and last year’s first-round pick Kenyon Green to continue developing. The recent depth additions will also help avoid pitfalls that have plagued the Texans’ roster in recent years.
LDE: Will Anderson Jr.
LDT: Maliek Collins
RDT: Sheldon Rankins
RDE: Jerry Hughes
The favorite to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year, Will Anderson should be able to utilize his length and strength often as a wide-nine technique to overcome his deficiencies and maximize his immense potential. A wrecking ball as a run defender with eye-popping production as a pass rusher, Anderson will be a cornerstone for the Texans’ defense.
Both veteran defensive tackles will be free agents next year, but Maliek Collins is a major asset as a pass rusher and Sheldon Rankins is a massive upgrade over Roy Lopez. Meanwhile, Jerry Hughes, 34, led the team with nine sacks in his first year with the Texans last season. He should play a prominent role in helping to develop rookie fourth round pick Dylan Horton, as well as injury-prone veteran Jonathan Greenard, who is entering the final year of his contract.
WLB: Christian Harris
MLB Denzel Perryman
SLB: Cory Littleton
LCB: Steven Nelson
RCB: Derek Stingley Jr.
Nickel: Desmond King II
SS: Jimmie Ward
FS: Jalen Pitre
One of last year’s most dynamic rookies at any position, Jalen Pitre gets some assistance on the back-end of the Texans’ defense with the free agent addition of Jimmie Ward, who replaces Jonathan Owens. Renown as a sure-fire tackler and excellent run defender with impressive coverage skills, Ward’s presence will be key in preventing the chunk run plays that have plagued Houston’s defense in recent years.
K: Ka’imi Fairbairn
P: Cameron Johnston
KR: Dare Ogunbowale
PR: Desmond King
LS: Jon Weeks
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