It is more than a stretch to think that the Houston Texans could make the playoffs in 2023, and yet, there is a path to that happening. With their head coach role having been filled by DeMeco Ryans, is it possible that the Texans are on their way to changing the path of their franchise?
This team has been horrifically bad ever since they were brought in as an expansion franchise, and even with the copious amount of top-five draft picks they have had, they still have failed to consistently field a competitive roster.
But their 2023 offseason is when that trend changes – after having hired Ryans, a one-time linebacker for this team early on, they can now look ahead to addressing their many glaring holes through the NFL Draft.
The following three fixes are where the Texans should dedicate most of their energy and efforts this offseason, especially if they want to expedite their postseason timeline.
Draft a top QB
This one is pretty obvious and should not surprise anyone, but the Texans desperately need to find a new quarterback. Davis Mills III and every other option they have tried recently have failed to resemble any sort of franchise mainstay, and this NFL Draft is a great chance to do right.
Choosing between Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud should make this fan base quite excited about their future, and either option should be able to improve this squad on Day 1.
Young has long been touted as the top QB option of his entire class, but Stroud’s abilities are quite polished as well – money should be on Houston going the route of Young.
But it wouldn’t be the Texans if they hurt their own chances of success – by holding the second-overall pick instead of the top slot, they have to contend with other QB-needy teams (Colts, Raiders, Panthers, etc.) moving up and leapfrogging them. So instead of their top choice, the Texans may have to settle for their second option, which would still be a great next step.
Trade Brandin Cooks
Looking to play on his fifth team heading into his 10th year in the NFL, wide receiver Brandin Cooks has made it very clear he wishes to be elsewhere – and who can blame him?
Having been stuck on an underachieving squad for three years has made him long for the days of playing for a Super Bowl contender, which is exactly where he (likely) would prefer to be shipped off to. The Texans would be smart to finally meet Cooks’ ask and send him to another team, before April’s NFL Draft.
Getting solid draft capital in return for Cooks (think 3rd-round pick) might not seem like a lot, but if the Texans feel it is necessary to move up to the 1st overall pick, having this extra draft capital may do the trick.
Or if they decide to hold the pick, you can never have too many Day 2 selections at your disposal, and by shipping Cooks out, it gives Nico Collins and any rookies/free agents more chances to thrive.
Find defensive talent for DeMeco Ryans
Bringing back Ryans as this team’s head coach gives their offseason a real feel-good look, exactly what this franchise needs. But to make him uber-successful early on, they need to add a ton of talent to their defense.
Having been spoiled by the likes of Fred Warner and others in San Francisco, Ryans is going to be in for a rude surprise when he tries to get a ton out of his defense in Houston. Outside of Jalen Pitre, this team lacks young talent, and both free agency and the draft are great avenues to use for upgrades.
In free agency, the Texans should look to target S Jessie Bates III, DE Samson Ebukam, LB Devin Bush, and CB Emmanuel Moseley, among others. All of these listed players are younger than 30 years old, and while this roster certainly will need some veteran leaders, their big-money investments should fit their young timeline.
Via the draft, the Texans should look to target DE Myley Murphy, EDGE Tyree Wilson, EDGE Lukas Van Ness, and S Brandon Joseph, among others. Having just gone CB last draft with Derek Stingley Jr., it is unlikely that they would want to use a high selection on that position again, but their defense has so many holes that they certainly could justify it.
The Texans seem to be adding the right pieces in the right spots to try and rid themselves of their losing ways. With Ryans at the helm, this team looks to have found its answer at HC, and if they do well in the NFL Draft, then maybe, just maybe, they can shock the world and make the playoffs.