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Where’s Texans Roster Rank in NFL?

While the 2022 Houston Texans roster may not be built for contention this season, it does contain a few bright spots for the future.

With the start of training camp fast approaching on the horizon of the NFL’s 32 teams, each and every organization’s brain trust is hard at work — examining their respective rosters for strengths and weaknesses.

In an offseason which featured some notable player movement, the balance of power is beginning to take shape throughout the league’s landscape.

Meanwhile for the Houston Texans, the prospect of rebuilding is arguably among the most optimistic storylines heading into 2022.

In the wake of both the 2022 NFL Draft and free agency, both ESPN and Pro Football Focus (PFF) have evaluated each team's roster using the PFF database, with an eye toward the projected starters.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the Houston Texans ranked last in the NFL, finishing 32nd in pre-camp rankings. In addition to assigning PFF grades to each of the Texans’ projected starters, the rankings also identified the team’s greatest strength, its most glaring weakness and Houston’s ‘X-factor’ as they march toward the start of the 2022 regular season.

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Biggest Strength: Desmond King II, Cornerback

ESPN / PFF Analysis:

The Texans have a few viable starting options to turn to at slot cornerback. Desmond King II graded as one of the best players at the position early in his career with the Chargers, but he hasn't quite been able to get back to that level of play in recent years. Tavierre Thomas was the team's primary slot defender in 2021, finishing the year with an impressive 77.6 PFF grade and just 188 passing yards allowed into his coverage all season. And Jalen Pitre, the rookie safety out of Baylor, also could see time in the slot, where he lined up the majority of the time in Dave Aranda's defense.

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Having been considered one of the league’s top defensive backs in his early days with the Los Angeles Chargers, King had a bounce-back season in his first year in Houston. The Iowa product compiled a career-high 93 tackles, three interceptions and six passes defensed in 16 games. Considering that King's All-Pro season (in 2018) saw him record 62 tackles, 10 passes defensed, and three interceptions, it is safe to say that the Texans are well-represented in the slot.

King allowed a career-low 65.6% of passes to be caught in 2021. He let up just three touchdowns, while holding opposing quarterbacks to a 66.7 passer rating against his targets. If King continues his stellar play on the field in 2022, Houston’s defensive backfield has the chance to be one of the stronger units in the division, as well as the conference.

Biggest Weakness: Offensive Line

ESPN / PFF Analysis:

During the 2021 season, the Texans' interior offensive line graded lower than any other interior offensive line in the NFL. Their interior defensive line didn't fare much better, ranking 25th out of 32 positional groups. The Texans made a few additions this offseason, including guards Kenyon Green and A.J. Cann, to help matters, but they could be headed for problems on the interior again this season.

Though the additions of Green and Cann should provide palpable hope for the future, the return of Laremy Tunsil may provide some much-needed improvement for 2022 — and perhaps a greater amount of optimism regarding the protection of second-year quarterback Davis Mills. Tunsil logged 262 snaps at left tackle for the Texans in 2021, equating to 24.6% of Houston’s offensive playing time. His suffering an injury early in week five of 2021 has a significantly negative impact on the Texans’ offensive line, and the offense as a whole. Though there was some speculation throughout league and media circles about his future in Houston, Tunsil will be back with the Texans in 2022. If he can return to even a semblance of the form which earned him Pro Bowl nods in 2019 and 2020, Houston’s offensive line may not be quite the liability as it is being portrayed.

X-Factor for 2022: Derek Stingley, Jr.

ESPN / PFF Analysis:

Derek Stingley Jr. was the top cornerback in college football as a true freshman in 2019, earning a 91.7 PFF grade and shutting down a talented collection of SEC wide receivers on a weekly basis. Though his play has been inconsistent the past two seasons at LSU, that talent didn't just disappear. Stingley stepping in as a true No. 1 cornerback early in his career would give a massive lift to Houston's secondary.

Stingley Jr. is widely considered to be among [if not, atop] the list of the top cornerbacks on the 2022 Draft class. As a result, he was selected third overall by the Texans in the 2022 NFL Draft. Stingley earned a starting job as a true freshman for the 2019 National Champion LSU Tigers. He led the team with six interceptions and earned more than 30 total tackles. Though injuries and coaching changes lessened his 2020 and 2021 productivity to a degree, he is still expected to be an elite-level pro in short order. He has tremendous speed and solid lateral movement, which make him a nightmarish matchup for receivers. Stingley routinely matches his targets both step-for-step, and in-and-out of breaks. He also possesses great instinct for making plays on passes thrown in his direction. His skill set will undoubtedly make him a player to be watched throughout training camp, as well as the offseason.