The Houston Texans had the first winning season in franchise history in 2009, but no playoff berth.
So much more is expected in 2010.
|The Texans have the passing game covered with Johnson and Schaub. (Getty Images)|
The Texans can throw as well as anybody with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, but they need help at running back. On defense, they have major issues in the secondary. They could use their first-round pick in that area, especially at corner.
This is a team that isn't far off, which is why this draft is so important. General manager Rick Smith needs to find one or two quality starters from this draft.
If they can plug their two big holes, corner and maybe running back, the Texans just might get that first playoff berth.
QB: The Texans are in good hands with Schaub. He led the NFL in passing yards, establishing himself as an elite passer. He understands the passing game. It helps that he has good weapons. Dan Orlovsky and John David Booty are fine as backups.
RB: Steve Slaton's strange season was a big surprise. He led the AFC in yards from scrimmage in 2008, then struggled last season. He couldn't hold onto the football and was benched. He had spinal surgery after the season. Backups Ryan Moats and Arian Foster aren't long-term answers, but could be spot players. If Slaton can't return to form, they need help here.
WR: Andre Johnson is arguably the best receiver in the NFL. He is Schaub's favorite target for a reason. He is big, strong and tough. He can't be single-covered. Kevin Walter was re-signed as a free agent in part because he's the perfect complement to Johnson. He does the underneath work. But there isn't a great deal behind those two. Jacoby Jones has been a tease with his great speed. David Anderson flashes, but isn't consistent.
|Five possibilities: Texans|
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: They've used picks at this spot in the past, but this would give them a heck of a four up front.
|Draft strategy: Texans|
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Team Needs: All 32 teams
TE: Owen Daniels is coming off a season cut short by injury. When he's on the field, he's one of the better pass-catching tight ends. He should be ready for the opener. But he isn't happy about his contract situation and could skip offseason work. Joel Dreessen and Anthony Hill are just OK behind him. Hill is more of a blocker. James Casey could see more time at tight end. He played some there as a rookie.
OL: Right tackle Eric Winston is the best player on the line, but left tackle Duane Brown needs to play better, especially in pass protection. He is in his third year, so it's time. The starting guards last year were young, aggressive players in Mike Brisiel, Kasey Studdard and Antoine Caldwell. The Texans signed Wade Smith as a free agent and he will get a crack inside. Center Chris Myers struggles with bigger nose tackles and Caldwell could factor in there as well.
DL: The ends are good with Mario Williams and Antonio Smith. They also have depth there with Tim Bulman and Connor Barwin. Williams needs to get back to his 2008 form. The main problem is inside. Amobi Okoye is solid, but they need more from the other spot. Veteran Shaun Cody started there last season, but they could use an upgrade. Second-year player Frank Okam should push for time. They've blown some high picks inside, which they can't afford to do again.
LB: In DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing and Zac Diles, the Texans have a nice group. Ryans is the star in the middle, a tackling machine. Cushing had a great rookie season and should only get better. He plays with a tenacious style. In backup Xavier Adibi, the Texans have two solid players on the weak side. Kevin Bentley provides depth, but they could use another young body.
DB: They need help here more than any other spot on the team, with perhaps the exception of running back. They lost Dunta Robinson to the Falcons in free agency, which left a void at corner. They do like young players Glover Quin and Brice McCain at the corners, but that's not a lot of experience. Jacques Reeves and Antwaun Molden provide depth. Veteran safeties Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson are decent, but they could use help there. They don't run as well as you would like.