Report card time for the Houston Texans’ defense; did they make the grade?


I graded every offensive player on the Houston Texans and now I am taking a crack at the defensive side of the ball. Let me know if you think I got it right, if I am nuts or I just plain don’t know what I am talking about.

Defensive Linemen: J.J. Watt / Jared Crick / Ricardo Mathews / Louis Nix III / Jeoffrey Pagan / Jerrell Powe
J.J. Watt – A+
If I could give him a grade higher I would. J.J. Watt is a beast, ranked #12 in the top 100 players in the NFL in 2014, there seems to be no stopping Watt. He is the heart and soul of this defense.

Jared Crick – C
The replacement for 5 year vet Antonio Smith, doesn’t show to well and it’s hard to compare to Smith. Don’t expect to much from Crick, he didn’t make much of an impact when he was in the game last year.

Ricardo Mathews – C-
A bigger body guy that won’t be a starter but will come in and fill in when needed. Nothing to special to note about Mathews he isn’t a big name and probably will have limited impact.

Louis Nix – Rookie
Nix is a rookie who of course has potential (don’t they all, until they don’t) to work into this line and do some damage on defense. We will see what he does coming in off the bench.

Jeoffrey Pagan – Rookie
Drafted for depth behind J.J. Watt don’t count on him playing much and he will have to be amazing to standout behind Watt.

Jerrell Powel – C+
Powe has played for Crennel before so he should fit nicely into the mix, he is a big guy and has had some success in the past. No star qualities like J.J. Watt but he will fill in nicely on the defensive line.

Linebackers: Jadeveon Clowney / Brooks Reed / Brian Cushing / Whitney Mercilus / Ricky Sapp / Akeem Dent / Jeff Tarpinian / Paul Hazel

Jadeveon Clowney – Rookie
The #1 pick in the draft. A lot of people are saying bust and a lot are saying the next (insert amazing hall of fame LB here). I am going to stay on the safe side and just say he will be playing with some good players (Watt/Cushing) with a coordinator that has a knack for having amazing defenses (Crennel). Has a shot to be special, we will see.

Brooks Reed – B-
I am going Reed a huge benefit of the doubt here, he has switched to the ILB position and will be more of a run stopper role, which he plays into his skills more.

Brian Cushing – B
Cushing is coming off his second consecutive season ending injury; both were pretty serious but just a string of bad luck. He should come back ready to do some work; as long as he stays healthy he should thrive in the Crennel defensive scheme. Especially as teams will be forced to block J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, Cushing could have a big year.

Whitney Mercilus – D-
Mercilus had 7 sacks last year but still had a lot of issues in his play, he needs to step up his game or he will be replaced. He was the weak link on the defense last year.

Secondary – Johnathan Joseph / Kareem Jackson / Brandon Harris / D.J. Swearinger / Chris Clemons / Kendrick Lewis

Johnathan Joseph – C
I am not as confident in Johnathan Joseph as others might be, he is an average starter.

Kareem Jackson – B-
Jackson has had some flashes of greatness and if he can keep that consistently through an entire season he would be a great starter.

Brandon Harris – D+
Average in about all aspects of his play, he is probably slated to start but he won’t be a standout by any means.

D.J. Swearinger – C-
Swearinger was supposed to be the long term solution for safety and after the Ed Reed experiment that failed terribly the Texans hoped Swearinger would step up, so far he hasn’t.

Chris Clemons – B
Texans signed Clemons this offseason and it was a great move, Clemons will be the starter and will have a good year he is a solid starter.

Kendrick Lewis – B-
Another free agent signing that was a smart move by the Texans. Lewis will fill in nicely when needed and will potentially take over for Swearinger if he doesn’t step up his game.

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  • Anonymous

    Good job with your predictions. I watch a lot of Alabama football and I think Pagan will do very well in Crenell’s system. I agree with your opinion on Mercilus. He was a raw talent when we drafted him and he has more learning to do. I am hopeful he has a better year considering he has much better pieces surrounding him.

  • LindaClaudine

    Yep – Alabama mentioned. And we could have got their qb in the 5th round for very little. But no – we have Fitz! Makes you long for the days of Matt Schaub – almost. Hopefully, Case will be playing. As for your ratings – it doesn’t take a genus to rate JJ that high. And I like Nix and believe Cushing will come back. He’s certainly working hard!