Welcome to the first of what will be a 32-team, deep dive into how the NFL rosters currently look focusing on the areas of strength and weakness of each. We’ll also cover how teams are likely to address these shortcomings; it’s all well and good to look at the list of free agents available and drool, but how much money do teams have to spend? Do they have viable options for creating more space or will they need to rely heavily on the draft?
We’ll be progressing in draft order, so front and center today are the Houston Texans with their starters as they stand entering the 2014 offseason. Their 2013 season being the disappointment that it was, strides will need to be made to shore up areas of concern, but that begs the age old question: was it purely down to Gary Kubiak and his coaches or did he simply not have the depth of talent required?
Houston’s assumed offensive and defensive lineups with unrestricted free agents removed can be seen in the following graphic.
– Player markers are colored per class on a five-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– Because quarterback, Matt Schaub undelivered against expectations to such a degree, it may surprise some we have not rated him lower. He remains though a QB capable of very good individual games (i.e. week one)
– When he’s on the field, inside linebacker Brian Cushing has shown himself to be among the top players at his position but an alarming injury history keeps him just short of elite status.
– Edge rusher, Whitney Mercilus is looking more like a bust with each passing year, but high class performances (such as at home to Seattle and Jacksonville) still give room for hope.
– Cornerback Brice McCain showed promise toward the end of the 2011 season, but fell to the point of being our lowest rated CB in coverage in 2013.
2014 Cap Situation
Assuming likely cap space of about $127 M in 2014, without doing a lot of work, they will be very close to that number this year. At this point it appears spending in free agency will at best be limited to one tier two or a couple of tier three free agents and the draft will be the major focus.
Letting Matt Schaub walk will save $4M but cutting anyone else that would make a dent could be counter-productive. By and large, the highest paid Texans are the best performers. I don’t, but they may, see the cost of Daniel Manning and Owen Daniels as too high. They can save $4.5M each by cutting them and with Shiloh Keo not a complete disaster at FS, in Manning’s case, it may be too tempting to pass up.
Opportunities from the Roster
David Quessenberry showed something in 189 preseason snaps (178 at LG and 11 at LT) before his injury, so he should have a chance to compete with Ben Jones at LG if the veteran, Wade Smith, is not brought back as expected. He may also be thrown into the mix with 2013 third-round selection Brennan Williams and Derek Newton at right tackle but those three together provide a highly tenuous strategy for the position which has been an issue since Eric Winston’s release.
* If you see anything wrong with the lineup as currently listed, please send feedback to @PFF on Twitter. We won’t promise to change it, but we will have a look.
Projected lineups by team:
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