Houston Texans Roster Breakdown in 2020
Texans fans are still scratching their heads.
The frustration from Bill O’Brien trading DeAndre Hopkins for a running back who is perceived over the hill is apparent. Houston lost integral pieces from their defense and did very little to compensate. The organization essentially struck out in the draft.
With several question marks surrounding the Houston Texans’ depth charts, let’s start examining the pieces that are in place.
*Names in bold denotes player is a starter
Texans Quarterback Depth Chart
Deshaun Watson may have lost his favorite weapon, but that hasn’t stopped some touts from proclaiming the Texans QB as a sincere NFL MVP candidate in 2020. Watson has a tremendous ability to extend plays and make big-time throws in the clutch, but he’ll need to be at his best in the upcoming season.
If something were to happen to Deshaun, A.J. McCarron would be next in line.
Texans Running Back Depth Chart
Things will get a bit sticky here if we see the same David Johnson that bottomed out last season in Arizona. Given that Duke Johnson will predominantly be used in passing situations, David will be asked to shoulder a much more extensive workload than the one he was relegated to with the Cardinals.
The trio of RBs sitting behind “Johnson & Johnson” is young and hungry; however, they were undrafted for a reason.
Texans Wide Receiver Depth Chart
|Steven Mitchell Jr.|
How Deshaun Watson copes without the services of DeAndre Hopkins is a major storyline heading into the season. Bill O’Brien scrambled the best he could to fill out the Texans’ WR depth chart, although replacing the consistency “Nuk” brought to the table is close impossible.
The hope is that Brandin Cooks can create mismatches on the outside in man-to-man coverage. Randall Cobb was inked to a three-year/$27 million deal to take over in the slot. Will Fuller will be thrust into a full-time role, while Kenny Stills has proven to be a sincere downfield threat.
Texans Tight End Depth Chart
We finally saw a team utilize the stature (6’7”, 270 pounds) of Darren Fells in the red zone. The 34-year-old veteran caught 7 touchdowns during his first season in Houston despite entering 2019 with a total of just 10 career TD receptions.
Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas are currently situated “2 and 3” on the Texans’ TE depth chart, but look out for Kahale Warring to start ascending. The 2019 third-round pick sat out his rookie season, but Coach O’Brien fully anticipates he’ll be contributing in 2020.
Texans Offensive Line Depth Chart
|Left Tackle||Laremy Tunsil||Brent Qvale||Elijah Nkansah|
|Left Guard||Max Scharping||Rick Leonard||Cordel Iwuagwu|
|Center||Nick Martin||Greg Mancz|
|Right Guard||Zach Fulton||Senio Kelemete||Charlie Heck|
|Right Tackle||Tytus Howard||Roderick Johnson||Kyle Murphy|
The Texans paid a hefty price tag to acquire Laremy Tunsil before the start of the 2019 campaign. Tunsil returned the favor by delivering a Pro-Bowl season.
With a franchise left tackle protecting Deshaun’s blind side in place, the belief around the organization is that Tytus Howard (first-round pick in 2019) can start dominating the right side.
The interior of Houston’s offensive line is a group that has already developed tons of cohesion. Scharping, Martin, and Fulton each played more than 87% of the offensive snaps a season ago.
Texans Defensive Line Depth Chart
|Defensive End||Defensive Tackle|
|J.J. Watt||Brandon Dunn|
|Angelo Blackson||Ross Blacklock|
|Charles Omenihu||Eddie Vanderdoes|
|Carlson Watkins||Alufohai Auzoyah|
Angelo Blackson and Charles Omenihu will split time at right defensive end, and Bill O’Brien is excited about Ross Blacklock coming in and being a run-stuffing defensive tackle.
J.J. Watt has missed 32 games since 2016, but “The Milk Man” heads into 2020 healthy and revitalized. He may be a step behind little brother T.J. at this point in his career, but Watt is still undoubtedly one of the best defensive ends in the NFL.
Texans Linebacker Depth Chart
|Position||Starter||Backup||Third String||Fourth String|
|SLB||Whitney Mercilus||Duke Ejiofor||Davin Bellamy||Jamir Jones|
|WILL||Zach Cunningham||Dylan Cole||Tyrell Adams|
|MIKE||Benardrick McKinney||Peter Kalambayi||Nate Hall||Jan Johnson|
|JACK||Brennan Scarlett||Jacob Martin||Jonathan Greenard||Chris Landrum|
Houston returns all four of its starting linebackers from 2019. Jonathan Greenard is a hybrid edge rusher who should see a decent chunk of playing time in his first year in the league.
The leader of this group is Zach Cunningham, a 25-year-old who racked up 142 tackles last season. Of those 142 tackles, 99 were solo tackles (2nd most in the NFL).
Texans Cornerback Depth Chart
|Lonnie Johnson Jr.|
Bradley Roby earned a three-year extension ($36 million), giving the Texans at least one cornerback they seem to trust. Houston already declined Gareon Conley’s 2021 option, they’re not ready to commit to Vernon Hargreaves, and Jonathan Joseph is now in Tennessee.
Fourth-round draft pick and Penn State product John Reid should see lots of chances to make his presence felt.
Texans Safety Depth Chart
Tashaun Gipson is out and will be replaced by Eric Murray. That’s a lateral move at best, and more than likely a downgrade.
Thankfully, Justin Reid is on a fast track to becoming one of the elite free safeties in the sport even though he probably shouldn’t have been on the field in 2019.
Justin tweeted out in January that he played the entire season with a torn labrum.
Texans Special Teams Depth Chart
|Kicker||Punter||Long Snapper||Holder||Punt Returner||Kick Returner|
|Ka’imi Fairbairn||Bryan Anger||Jonathan Weeks||Bryan Anger||DeAndre Carter, Kek Coutee||DeAndre Carter|
What a difference a year makes — and not in a good way.
Ka’imi Fairbairn went from being one of the top kickers in the NFL to nearly falling out of the top 20 of this year’s fantasy football kicker rankings. Unfortunately, when you go from leading the NFL with 37 made field goals in 2018 to disappearing the following season (just 20 made kicks in 2019), Fairbairn doesn’t have much of a “leg” to stand on.
Texans Roster Analysis
- Grade: B-
The departure of DeAndre Hopkins bumps this offense down a notch, but I don’t suspect it completely falls apart. What concerns me the most about the Houston Texans’ depth chart is how effective the defense will be. Specifically the back end.
We saw the way Patrick Mahomes toyed around with the Houston secondary in last season’s Divisional Round, yet O’Brien didn’t do a whole lot in terms of buffering the Texans’ roster.
Houston stayed fairly quiet during free agency and was one of the teams that underwhelmed in the NFL Draft.
Nevertheless, this squad still has Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt — two of the very best at their respective positions.
Betting on the Houston Texans in 2020
It’s not only touts around the league and the casinos in Vegas that are down on Houston in 2020. The best NFL betting sites pegged the Colts as the favorites to emerge in the AFC South and installed the Texans’ win total at just 7.5 games.
Keep in mind, Deshaun Watson is 24-13 as a starter, and this team won double-digit games in each of the last two seasons.
Do you see any value betting on the Texans in 2020?