Brock Osweiler deal limits Texans' offseason grade
The three positions that touch the ball more than any other will all be different for the Texans in 2016 than they were in 2015. Center Ben Jones left to the Titans in free agency, while quarterback Brian Hoyer and running back Arian Foster were cut. The hope is that all their replacements—Nick Martin, Brock Osweiler, and Lamar Miller, respectively—will be upgrades to the offense. I can get on board with two of the three. Unfortunately, the one I’m most unsure about is the one that plays the most important position. Because of that, and a lackluster draft, the Texans’ offseason grade to this point is a B-.
Offseason grade: B-
Free agency and trades
New arrivals: QB Brock Osweiler (Broncos), G Jeff Allen (Chiefs), RB Lamar Miller (Dolphins), S Antonio Allen (Jets), C Tony Bergstrom (Raiders)
Resignings: John Simon, Quintin Demps, QB Brandon Weeden, A.J. Bouye, RB Jonathan Grimes, Eddie Pleasant, Shane Lechler, K Nick Novak, Chris Clark
Departures: C Ben Jones (Titans), S Rahim Moore (Browns), WR Nate Washington (Patriots), G Brandon Brooks (Eagles), RB Arian Foster (UFA), CB Darryl Morris (Jets), QB B.J. Daniels (Giants), QB T.J. Yates (UFA), LB Justin Tuggle (Browns), QB Brian Hoyer (Bears), RB Chris Polk (UFA), TE Garrett Graham (Broncos), DE Jared Crick (Broncos)
In terms of talent added versus talent lost, the Texans came out with a surplus this offseason. The only irreplaceable loss suffered was guard Brandon Brooks, who moved on to Philadelphia. Other than that, Lamar Miller should at least be able to replace a 29-year-old Arian Foster coming off of an Achilles injury. Jared Crick and Rahim Moore were underperforming, while the replacements for Ben Jones and Nate Washington came via the draft. Tony Bergstrom and Jeff Allen are two guards coming off their rookie deals as well as career years that were had for fairly cheap.
Obviously, though, none of that will matter if their new quarterback, Brock Osweiler, is a bust in Houston. He has a whopping 642 snaps and 305 pass attempts to his name in a four-year career with Denver. In those snaps, he played well enough to earn a -0.6 cumulative passing grade. That’s nowhere near enough of a sample size to make any declarations one way or the other, but it’s difficult to believe he can be worse than Brian Hoyer was in the playoffs last year (-8.3 cumulative grade).
2016 NFL draft
- Round 1 (pick No. 21 from Washington) Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
- Round 2 (pick No. 50 from Atlanta) Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame
- Round 3 (pick No. 85) Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
- Round 4 (pick No. 119) Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State
- Round 5 (pick No. 159) K.J. Dillon, S, West Virginia
- Round 5 (pick No. 166 from New England) D.J. Reader, DT, Clemson
The Texans invested heavily in their offense, and for good reason, as they finished 20th in PFF’s overall offensive grades a season ago, compared to fifth in overall defense. The reason their draft got a C+ from us, though, is because the playmakers they drafted are far from “safe” prospects. They passed on Josh Doctson to draft Fuller, who hasn’t shown he can be much more than a deep threat. Meanwhile, Osweiler was the second-most inaccurate deep passer in the NFL last year, with a pretty good crop of deep receivers in Denver. Braxton Miller, on the other hand, is terribly raw in his routes. On one 12-yard out in Senior Bowl practices, it took him a ridiculous 4.7 seconds to get to his break.
Selfishly, I would have loved to see the Texans add another threat along their defensive line, especially considering how deep the defensive line class was. If Jadeveon Clowney can add a few pass-rushing moves to his repertoire (and eliminate some old ones) they could approach Bronco-levels of pass-rushing prowess, and one more interior player could have pushed them over the edge. That being said, if Fuller and Miller can fulfill their potential, this draft will fare much better in a regrade.
In the end, it will all come down to the performance of Osweiler. If he’s a legitimate starter, then the $72 million deal and the heavy investment in the offense will make this an A+ offseason. If he comes in and isn’t even an upgrade over Hoyer, then that grades flips to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. We don’t know for sure either way, which is why the Texans’ offseason grade is somewhere in the middle for now.