[Chart last updated 7/4/14]
• You might think we’ve been a bit harsh on last season’s first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins, but in truth he didn’t deliver much after a strong first two weeks of the season. He certainly didn’t have much help from the quarterbacks throwing him the ball, but we want to see him up his game before moving him up a notch.
• While the roster has two elite players, it also holds an awful lot of uncertainty with 22 players who are either rookies or players we simply haven’t seen enough to fairly judge yet. How those players perform will be key in deciding if the Texans bounce back this season or not.
• With the selection of Jadaveon Clowney with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, it looks like the Texans will move Brooks Reed to inside linebacker, manning the spot next to Brian Cushing. He’s struggled on the outside, but the majority of his negative grades have come from his inability to generate pressure, so perhaps the move will do him good.
• Kareem Jackson has flashed the potential to be higher than just an average starter but, unfortunately, just hasn’t put it together on a consistent basis. The player we saw in 2012 is better than that, but in 2013 he was far too up and down to be considered anything more.
1. Left Guard
Ben Jones may have played 1,032 snaps on the offensive line for the Texans in his first two seasons in the league, but he hasn’t been consistent enough with his play that a new coaching staff will feel comfortable handing him the starting job. They drafted Xavier Su’a-Filo in the second round of the draft and, if Jones can’t step up over the summer it won’t be a shock to see the rookie win the battle.
2. Free Safety
It’s still puzzling to me that it took so long for a team to snap up Chris Clemons this offseason, especially in a market that was hardly saturated with good free safeties. The problem for Clemons is that the Texans also signed Kendrick Lewis this offseason and, while Clemons has clearly been the better player recently, the team liked Lewis enough that they signed him a week before the former Miami Dolphin so he’ll have to prove again that he’s the better player.
Normally when you have a quarterback battle there is some hype around one of the players battling to win the job. That man in this battle is Tom Savage, whom the Texans drafted in the fourth round of this year’s draft. That should tell you all you need to know about this battle and, while he’s unlikely to open the year as the starter, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start a game or two late in the year if things don’t go to plan for the Texans. Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Yates and Case Keenum all took snaps in 2013, but all three finished the year with negative grades. Fitzpatrick is the favorite to win the job heading into the season, but if past play is anything to go by, we could see three or four players start at the position this year.
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