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Texans Release First Depth Chart: Deshaun Among Surprises?

The Houston Texans have released their first unofficial depth chart of the 2021 season and there are a few surprises.

The Houston Texans have released their first unofficial depth chart of the 2021 season ahead of this weekend's game against the Green Bay Packers, and there are a few minor surprises.

The depth chart:

Offense

QB - Tyrod Taylor, Jeff Driskel, Davis Mills (R), Deshaun Watson

RB - Mark Ingram, David Johnson, Dontrell Hilliard, Scottie Phillips

RB - Phillip Lindsay, Rex Burkhead, Buddy Howell, Paul Quessenberry (FB)

WR - Brandin Cooks, Anthony Miller, Alex Erickson, Andre Roberts, Isaiah Coulter, Nico Collins (R)

WR - Chris Conley, Keke Coutee, Chris Moore, Taywan Taylor, Jordan Veasy, Damon Hazelton (R)

TE - Pharaoh Brown, Jordan Akins, Ryan Izzo, Kahale Warring, Anthony Auclair, Brevin Jordan

LT - Laremy Tunsil, Charlie Heck, Roderick Johnson, Geron Christian Sr.

LG - Max Scharping, Danny Isidora, Hjalte Froholdt

C - Justin Britt, Cole Toner, Ryan McCollum (R), Drake Jackson

RG - Justin McCray, Lane Taylor, Carson Green (R)

RT - Tytus Howard, Marcus Cannon, Jordan Steckler

Defense

DE - Whitney Mercilus, Jacob Martin, Charles Omenihu, Derek Rivers

DT - Brandon Dunn, Vincent Taylor, Auzoyah Alufohai, Roy Lopez (R)

DT - Maliek Collins, Ross Blacklock, DeMarcus Walker, Jaleel Johnson

DE - Jordan Jenkins, Shaq Lawson, Jonathan Greenard

WLB - Zach Cunningham, Hardy Nickerson, Neville Hewitt

MLB - Christian Kirksey, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Tae Davis

SLB - Kevin Pierre-Louis, Joe Thomas, Garret Wallow (R)

CB - Bradley Roby, Desmond King II, Tavierre Thomas, Keion Crossen

CB - Terrance Mitchell, Vernon Hargreaves III, John Reid, Cornell Armstrong, Tremon Smith

S - Justin Reid, Terrence Brooks, A.J. Moore Jr., Shyheim Carter

S - Eric Murray, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Jonathan Owens

Special Teams

P - Cameron Johnston

K - Ka'imi Fairbairn

LS - Jon Weeks

H - Cameron Johnston

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First off, all rookies have been placed at the back of the queue at their respective positions. This comes as no surprise as they'll likely need to show what they can do in an actual NFL game scenario over the coming weeks before jumping their way up the depth chart.

Starting on offense, Taylor was the presumptive starter from the day he arrived. The most experienced quarterback available, assuming Deshaun Watson doesn't suit up for Houston again, Taylor knows this coaching staff, is well adept at adjusting to new schemes, and has been praised throughout training camp for his leadership.

At running back, Ingram and Lindsay are logical choices to head the pack. Both have recorded 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the past two years and offer very different rushing styles. 

The biggest surprise here is seeing former tight end Quessenberry listed as a full back - the first full back on Houston's roster since they released Jay Prosch in 2018.

Moving to wideout, Cooks has been locked in as Houston's star receiver since DeAndre Hopkins went to Arizona last offseason. Conley is a solid WR2, offering a larger frame than Cooks opposite him. However, keep an eye on rookie Collins possibly working his way into Conley's role.

The likely slot receivers, Coutee and Miller, are both second on the depth chart indicating the starting role remains up for grabs.

Meanwhile, second-year receiver Coulter remains buried ahead of only rookie Collins... not a great sign for the year to come.

Tight ends are no real surprise. Akins is carrying a knock which would explain why he's behind Brown. That being said, Brown has been drawing some rave reviews this camp and could work his way into a starting role thanks to his clocking ability.

Despite the seemingly endless series of tweets questioning who will start where on this new-look offensive line, it is actually relatively predictable.

Tunsil is a cornerstone of this team at left tackle, Howard remains at right tackle despite being moved around during camp, Scharping retains the starting job at left guard, while former Atlanta Falcon McCray comes in at right guard.

Cannon could challenge for McCray's spot once healthy, as could Taylor for Scharpings eventually.

Britt is their most experienced center, and after a season out of the game, he should be raring to go.

READ MORE: Texans Injury Update: 3 Starters Missing Practice

On defense, there were a couple of surprises. 

Beginning up front, veteran linebacker Mercilus has been moved to defensive end. Not a shock move given the change to a 4-3 scheme, and in fact this could well suit his skill set well. The same could be said for Jenkins opposite Mercilus, as well as backups Greenard and Martin.

The aforementioned Jenkins comes as a slight surprise, beating Lawson to the starting spot. Again, nothing here is concrete and a depth chart is fluid, especially this early in training camp, but not seeing Lawson start is unexpected.

In the middle, Dunn and Collins are common sense starters. They should suit each other's strengths/weaknesses well and will both offer a veteran presence to shore up a line that struggled to stop the run 2020.

Cunningham, Kirksey, and Pierre-Louis are on paper a strong trio at linebacker.

It seems likely that it will be down to Kirksey to be the versatile pass-coverage at middle linebacker, allowing the other two to focus their efforts more on out and out tackling.

At cornerback, Roby will miss the first game of the season as he completes his PED suspension, but after will retain his starting role as the star cornerback in this group. Former Cleveland Brown Mitchell has impressed throughout training camp, and Hargreaves has also seemingly adapted well, meaning they should have decent depth. 

Just behind Roby is former Tennessee Titan King who will hope to regain his former All-Pro form covering the slot.

Justin Reid is key to not only this defensive backfield but this defense as a whole. A smart individual who brings leadership both on and off the field, he enters a contract year as their primary safety and starter alongside Murray.

It would come as s surprise should Murray remain as the starter heading into Week 1. 2020 was hardly a stellar year for Murray who allowed an 80% pass completion rate for 659 yards.

But, with Johnson just a week removed from a stint on the PUP list, this could explain why the former second-round pick who finished 2020 as the starter alongside Reid isn't listed on top.

As for special teams, it was business as usual. 

Weeks returns for season 12, as much a part of the Texans as NRG Stadium and Toro.

Kicker Fairbairn enters his fifth season with Houston fresh off of another solid season. 

Australian punter Johnson notched an average of 46.7 yards per punt with the Philadelphia Eagles last year, 0.3 yards above his Texans predecessor Bryan Anger. Every little helps?

CONTINUE READING: Is Texans' Tavierre Thomas a True Special-Teams Ace?