NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. S - 4.0
2. LB - 4.0
3. DT - 3.0
4. CB - 3.0
5. WR - 2.5
6. OT - 2.0
7. P - 2.0
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - Schaub had a nice season, but certainly not as good as he was a year ago. But the Texans shouldn't be worried about their starter as much as they should be concerned about the No. 2. While Schaub did manage to start all 16 games for the second season in a row, there still should be concerns about his durability. Orlovsky is their top backup and Leinart may not be back as a free agent, so this April would be as good a team as any to draft a young developmental backup in the middle or late rounds. NEED: 1.5
Running Back - Foster had a breakout campaign, but their concern here is going to be depth. Slaton contributed little with Foster assuming his role as third down option. Depth is a concern, but not as much if Ben Tate can make a healthy return next year from an ankle injury. They have the option of bringing back Derrick Ward for another year as a free agent. But overall, the concern is mainly depth, but not huge. NEED: 1.5
Fullback - Leach made the Pro Bowl this year due to his blocking prowess in clearing lanes for Foster. He is a free agent, but should be back. If not, they will try and replace him in the draft or move to more 2-TE sets. NEED: 0.5
Wide Receiver - Andre Johnson wasn't as dominant a receiver, but he's still one of the greats. If you could combine Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones into one play, you'd have a very good No. 2 option. Between the two of them they have a nice stable of complements. But both players would make better No. 3s than No. 2s. And if the Texans can find the right secondary weapon on the outside, particularly someone that can be a bit more explosive than both of those two guys were this past year, then they will have an even more potent passing attack. Jones is a free agent, and his return skills and speed might mean he could be a bit pricier than his value to bring him back. NEED: 2.5
Tight End - Owen Daniels was beat up for half the year, but they got contributions from Joel Dreessen who split reps with him. James Casey, Garrett Graham, and Anthony HIll give them a nice young stable of depth options. If they lost Daniels to free agent, they could probably get away with going with Dreessen as their stopgap and hope that one of those young guys steps up. So they could afford his loss, but it would be smarter not to tempt fate, since Daniels A game is much more proven than the alternative. NEED: 1.0
Offensive Tackle - Duane Brown isn't elite, but he proved valuable due to the 4 games he missed and they were forced to start Rashad Butler at left tackle. Butler is a free agent, and is young and athletic enough that someone could offer him a starting opportunity much like the Bears did with Frank Omiyale in 2009. But his loss could open the opportunity for them to draft a new backup for Brown that could push him in a year or two. Eric Winston isn't great on the right side, but solid. NEED: 2.0
Offensive Guard - Wade Smith was a solid addition this year, and on the other side, the combo of Mike Brisiel and Antoine Caldwell proved effective. And they like Shelley Smith to develop for the future. So there really isn't much need here if they can keep developing their youth. NEED: 0.5
Center - Chris Myers had a strong season, not allowing a sack or being called for a penalty and his run blocking was key for Foster's success. 2011 is his final year, so another solid year and he should get a contract extension. Caldwell and Smith can play here, so depth isn't a concern. NEED: 0.0
Defensive Tackle - The love affair with Amobi Okoye is probably officially over. He had 5 sacks in his first 9 games as a rookie, but has totalled only 6 in the 53 games since then. This is his contract year, and with the team's move to a 3-4 scheme, he doesn't seem like a great fit. So there is a possibility they try to move him for middle round compensation. They lack a true nose tackle on the roster and that will likely be a priority for the off-season. Although Wade Phillips has had success with lighter, and more disruptive nose tackles in recent years, so he may roll the dice and see if Okoye can stick. But there needs to be an insurance policy at the least. NEED: 3.0
Defensive End - Mario Williams isn't your traditional 3-4 end, but his size and athleticism will allow him to be effective in a similar vein as Bruce Smith. Or at least that's the plan. Antonio Smith is a strong fit here. And Earl MItchell, Tim Bulman, and Jarvis Green should give them nice depth next year/ THey might draft another option in the draft to develop for the future, but it's not a major need. NEED: 1.0
Linebacker - The loss of Ryans was big in the middle, and his return should bolster this defense. But he's coming off an Achilles injury, which is notorious for taking at least 18 months before a player is anywhere close to being back to his former self. Cushing at least has the versatility that can play inside or outside. But right now, they don't really have any options as rush linebackers on the outside, so that needs to be addressed. Bentley and Diles are both potential free agents, but between the two of them, they could probably find a serviceable starter inside for at least a year. They need to add at least two starters in the off-season, with one definitely being on the outside. NEED: 4.0
Cornerback - Kareem Jackson was a major disappointment as a rookie, and he'll need to have a huge rebound season in 2011 to restore faith in him. Glover Quin is a nice complementary corner, but if they are asking him to stop top wideouts they are going to be in trouble. They have young options as far as the nickel goes, but nothing that inspires confidence. Adding a veteran to help solidify this spot would be a welcome addition. Another youngster probably isn't going to help much. NEED: 3.0
Safety - Pollard was excellent last year, but his play slipped this year. He's a free agent, and his return is debatable since you tend to need guys that are better in coverage than him in the 3-4 scheme. But even if he does come back, they definitely need to add a ballhawk at free safety since Eugene Wilson has been unable to cut it. This should be a priority in the off-season. NEED: 4.0
Kicker - Rackers was a solid addition, and I'm not sure why the Cardinals dumped him in the first place. NEED: 0.0
Punter - Turk is a free agent, but is pretty steady. But he'll be 43 next year, and there's no time that will be better to go in a new, younger direction here. NEED: 2.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.