- Ken Moll, Scouts Inc.
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As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock," and Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.
Gary Kubiak enters his third year as Texans head coach and appears to have the pieces in place to make a postseason run. Houston was 8-8 last season but was better in the second half of the season. It won three of its last five and five of the last eight. Quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels have proven they can run the versatile Kubiak offense, and the Texans have added a few more pieces to make this offense even better. Houston has several young, talented players on defense and was active in the offseason, adding more athletes and re-signing key contributors to solidify that side of the ball. This club has enough playmakers on offense and enough high-motor, hard-hitting athletes on defense to potentially take the next step and become a force in the AFC South.
Houston signed two athletic linebackers in Chaun Thompson and Kevin Bentley. Both run well, and Thompson is an excellent combination of size, strength and speed. Coming from a small college (West Texas A&M), his learning curve was somewhat larger than many others in the league, but he has the raw tools to be productive. Both appear to be vying to be starting strongside linebacker. Cornerback Jacques Reeves had a breakout year for the Cowboys last year. He was an excellent signing for Houston and will likely line up opposite the talented Dunta Robinson to give the Texans two physical, athletic players on the perimeter who could give this defense a little more flexibility. They also added veteran safety Nick Ferguson. Versatile offensive lineman Chris Myers should bolster an already improved front for the Texans. He was an important signing because 10-year veteran Steve McKinney is coming off an injury and his status is up in the air. One of the most important additions is running back Chris Brown. He has averaged 4.3 yards per carry during his career and should team nicely with veteran Ahman Green.
The Texans lost several players on defense, but the biggest was versatile cornerback Von Hutchins (Atlanta). He has had durability concerns much of his career but is a solid player. Losing three linebackers shouldn't hurt how the starting defense performs but will affect depth and special teams. Veteran Shawn Barber (released) had a history of injury problems, and Danny Clark (Giants) and Charlie Anderson (Dolphins) have primarily been backups. They also lost backup TE Jeb Putzier (Seahawks), but that shouldn't affect the offense much. For the most part, the Houston front office did a nice job of solidifying its roster, and it's tough to see many problems caused by the departure of the players it lost.
After being ranked toward the bottom of the league, can the defense improve with the additions of three new faces along with their talented young players having another year under their belts? Can the Kubiak offense become more balanced and field an effective ground attack to go with an innovative passing game? The special teams have enough good players to be one of the best units in the league, and the Texans have the luxury of knowing it has two QBs who can lead them in Schaub and Rosenfels. It appears that several areas of need were addressed this offseason, but it's still too early to tell if it will be enough to make the Texans contenders in a very tough division.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
Scouts Inc. puts the Texans on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answers.