The Houston Texans enter the 2017 season with a few question marks, but plenty of talent spread across both sides of the ball. They’re coming off back-to-back division titles and three-straight 9-7 seasons. On paper, 9-7 certainly doesn’t seem great, but it’s gotten the job done in their division, and it’s something they’re looking to build on moving forward.
As we head into the season, let’s check out the 10 best Texans players of 2017, beginning with a player who’s yet to even see the field in a regular season game.
10. Nick Martin, C
Martin missed all of 2016 with an ankle injury, but the former second-round draft pick from Notre Dame has all the tools to be an extremely impressive NFL offensive lineman. So, we’re betting big on him entering this season.
9. Brian Cushing, LB
There’s no question that Cushing isn’t quite the same player that he was a few seasons back, and that injuries have really hurt him. He’s played the full 16 games just once in the past five seasons, but during that season racked up 110 combined tackles. As a veteran leader and a guy who can easily top 110-plus tackles, he finds his way just barely onto the list.
8. Kareem Jackson, CB
I really like Jackson playing out of the slot, and he should be able to have a solid season, even against some tough competition. Having him as a third cornerback isn’t bad at all, and he allowed only three touchdowns out of the slot last season, so the upside is certainly there.
7. Duane Brown, OT
While he’s in the midst of a holdout, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a talented player. Brown is a guy that the Texans really need to get back out on the field, and hopefully, this thing can end sooner than later. He was a First-Team All-Pro in 2012 and a three-time Pro Bowl selection from 2012 to 2014. While he hasn’t been able to get back to that level, he’s still a reliable member of the line.
6. Lamar Miller, RB
I’m fully expecting to see Miller surpass the five touchdown total he had last season. It was good to see him handle the heavier workload with the Texans after spending his first four seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career while averaging four yards per carry. Miller is reliable, trustworthy and a guy who deserves to be right where he is on this list.
5. DeAndre Hopkins, WR
If you want to argue that Hopkins deserves to be higher on this list than No. 5, I won’t fight you too hard. The only reason for him being here and not higher up is the fact that the Texans just have such a superb defense overall. Hopkins has played his entire career with questions at the quarterback position, yet in four seasons he’s still racked up 317 receptions for 4,487 yards and 23 touchdowns.
4. Whitney Mercilus, LB
Mercilus can virtually do it all. He can get to the quarterback, shut down the run and even step back in coverage. It’s hard to find something that he’s not capable of excelling at. Over the past two seasons, he’s racked up 105 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. If not for the ridiculous talent on this defense, Mercilus would be higher up.
3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE
We can officially call 2016 a breakout season for Clowney. He had a solid season before that, but finally wound up coming through with 52 combined tackles, 17 tackles for loss and six sacks. It seems as if this is just him beginning to scrape his potential, and that 2017 could be an absolutely monstrous season for Clowney.
2. Benardrick McKinney, LB
The stat line that McKinney put together last season was ridiculous. He totaled 129 combined tackles, five sacks and a forced fumble. The man flies all over the field and is the perfect player to pair up with Mercilus, Clowney and, of course, J.J. Watt. McKinney should be in for another huge season and will be an anchor for the Texans defense.
1. J.J. Watt, EDGE
As we know, Watt missed all but three games last season, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s the best and most dangerous player on this roster. In the four seasons prior to that, Watt racked up a whopping 59 sacks, with 15 forced fumbles. Those numbers are simply unbelievable and show that he’s by far one of the biggest, if not the biggest, defensive game-changers in the NFL.
MORE TEXANS COVERAGE:
- How did Deshaun Watson fare in Houston’s preseason win over Patriots?
- D’onta Foreman shows promise with big debut
- 3 things we learned about Houston in first preseason game
- What does a successful season look like for Houston?