The Houston Texans offensive line will play a crucial role in its offense’s success in 2013. Duane Brown and Chris Myers are great players at the important left tackle and center positions, respectively. Derek Newton seems to have a strong hold on the starting right tackle spot, even though we will need to see substantial improvement.
Pro Bowler Wade Smith would have a stranglehold on the left guard position but, after undergoing a knee scope and being declared out for an undetermined amount of time, the Texans offensive lines have some question marks at guard.
Houston has some good options at guard. For now, second-year 6’3”, 300-pound Ben Jones is splitting reps at left guard. Any scenario, however, in which Jones is a starting player on the offensive line would present a major liability, especially in pass protection. His performance in the Week 1 preseason game versus the Vikings gave no reason to expect otherwise. He simply lacks the size and athleticism to consistently hold up over the course of a game.
The Texans offense has good options. 6’5” rookie David Quessenberry played very well in his first NFL action at left guard. He has the length and athleticism to play a tackle spot and displayed the nastiness and strength to be successful at guard as well. If not now, then soon enough Quessenberry will be one of the Texans’ top five offensive linemen.
At right guard, Ben Jones could also see starting action. This cannot happen longterm. The better alternative is the mammoth, 6’5”, 345-pound Brandon Brooks, a bigger and more athletic interior option. Brooks shows some inconsistency in the run game due to his high pad level on zone stretch plays and some ineffective backside cut blocking. But he is extremely strong, has more upside and is a better pass blocker.
The most interesting backup is fifth-year 6’6” Andrew Gardner. Gardner acquitted himself well as Newton’s backup in the first preseason game and has the ability to be an upgrade over Newton. He’s sound, long and athletic. If Quessenberry doesn’t get the opportunity to compete for the right tackle job, hopefully Gardner will. Ryan Harris has unfortunately lacked the ability to consistently be a strong anchor versus power, especially in the run game.
On the defensive line, Earl Mitchell, David Hunter and Terrell McClain all flashed the ability to penetrate and explode into the backfield to make plays. If Mitchell can join Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt as elite handfuls, the Texans defensive line could be the most dominant in the NFL.
Case Keenum may have just taken the second-string quarterback job from T.J. Yates. Though he enjoyed great protection upfront, Keenum was accurate, efficient, moved the ball and ran the offense very well.
Dennis Johnson and Cierre Wood were in large part the relevant backs in week one. Johnson showed good cutback ability while Wood ran extremely hard with good speed.
Obviously DeAndre Hopkins is polished and showed excellent hands grabbing a touchdown pass in traffic. But his ability to get good separation versus tight man coverage should still be questioned.