Entering their first season under new coach Lovie Smith, the Houston Texans will look to continue making steady progress in their rebuild. One of the biggest indicators of that process will be just how good the defense looks under Smith.
However, while there are pieces to build around on the defensive side of the ball for Houston, not everyone loves what the Texans are working with. Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus said the Texans have the second-worst linebacker unit in the NFL ahead of the 2022 season.
31. Houston Texans
Much of this unit's potential lies with third-round rookie Christian Harris, who managed 34 run stops at Alabama in 2021 (tied for 36th among 374 qualifying FBS linebackers). Christian Kirksey has not had a season of note since 2016 with the Browns, yet he projects as a starter in this defense once again.
While Galina's argument that the Texans could see themselves depending heavily on the development of Harris as a rookie, that is selling this linebacker unit a bit short.
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The Texans brought back their leading tackler from the 2021 season, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who racked up 108 combined tackles in 14 starts. He would also total 13 tackles for loss and three sacks on the season.
No, the Texans will not likely find themselves as Super Bowl contenders in 2022, as they are still a couple of years away from being there. However, their defense should take steps to improve under Smith, especially the linebackers. They might not be close to the best linebacker room in the NFL, but putting them at 31 completely undersells what they are capable of as a unit.