The departure of J.J. Watt is surely going to negatively affect the Houston Texans' defensive line. But this much?
Pro Football Focus ranked the defensive lines of all 32 NFL teams, and the Watt trade had a lot to do with where the Houston unit finished: Dead last.
32. HOUSTON TEXANS
Houston’s defensive line ranked dead last in overall PFF grade as a unit (47.0) in 2020. And that was despite J.J. Watt earning an 85.4 overall grade on over 1,000 defensive snaps. Things aren’t getting any better with Watt no longer in town. The Texans will need younger players, such as Charles Omenihu (52.1 overall grade in 2020) and Ross Blacklock (30.2), to take big steps forward if their defensive line is to be anything other than the NFL's worst such unit again next season.
There's no question the loss of Watt, who was cut at his request before signing with the the Arizona Cardinals, represents a major loss for the Texans. His polished pass-rush and run-stopping skills were unmatched not just on the team, but around the league.
Omenihu might be primed for a breakout third season. He's athletic, tall, and improving his pass-rushing skills, and has become even bigger and stronger this offseason.
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Blalock has a lot more to prove to the coaching staff after a disappointing rookie season. But Maliek Collins can move off blocks and penetrate the middle and is looking to improve in 2021.
A big question mark on the unit is Brandon Dunn, whose ongoing recovery from a fractured hip in December bears watching.
If the Texans are to have any success on the defensive side of the ball, this defensive line is going to have to improve dramatically.
Of course, according to PFF, there's nowhere to go but up.
CONTINUE READING: Former Texans & Longhorns RB Gets Another Look