Houston Texans: Final 53-Man Roster Prediction

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Normally, in the NFL's preseason, there's been a logical progression whereby you learn more and more about a team with each passing preseason game.

In years past, the starters play a quarter in the first game, two quarters in the second game, three quarters (roughly) in the third game, and then they all sit the finale. However, with controlled practices against the Falcons and the Broncos, along with a heightened sense of caution in keeping his top heavy roster healthy, Bill O'Brien really hasn't given us much to go on when trying to handicap this team.

Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Brian Cushing, Johnathan Joseph, Brandon Brooks, Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt, Chris Myers...we've seen very little publicly of all these guys playing football. And even less of them playing at the same time.

Oddly enough, we may have learned more about this team in preseason game number four than any of the other three games.

What we learned in the 49ers' 40-13 thrashing of the Texans on Thursday night is this:

1. The Texans have depth in many areas in name only, depth in that there are human beings whose names will be placed on a depth chart, but there are certain positions that, once the waiver wire opens this weekend, will be churned over in the second and third tiers (cornerback, safety, and offensive line come to mind).

2. If something happens to Ryan Fitzpatrick, may God have mercy on all of our football souls. Of the four quarterbacks that played Thursday night, one was competent -- Josh Johnson. The other three (Case Keenum, Tom Savage, Blaine Gabbert) all looked anywhere from confused to frightened ("frightened" would be Gabbert, who I'm convinced they had run the ball to the wide side of the field so as to take advantage of his fear of being hit).

With that in mind, here is my final stab at the 53-man roster, which (as I saw someone point out on Twitter) has become the late August answer to mock drafts. I have no idea what iteration of a mock 53 this is for me, I just know I'll probably get a few of these wrong. I always do.

So here goes:

(NOTE: I've placed double asterisks next to players I see as most likely to be replaced by waiver wire pickups from other people's teams. As we've been reminded many times, the Texans have first crack at any released players with less than four years experience.)

QUARTERBACKS (3)
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick
** 2. Case Keenum
3. Tom Savage

COMMENT: Case Keenum is only taking a spot here in the event that there is no one more enticing that comes available on the waiver wire. It's easy to cut Case Keenum, it's harder to find a replacement that an NFL head coach is going to feel comfortable with heading into Week 1 of the regular season, not that O'Brien should feel comfortable with Keenum, but NFL coaches tend to place stock in someone "knowing their system," which to me seems overrated when they physically still can't go win a game.

RUNNING BACKS (3)
1. Arian Foster
2. Alfred Blue
3. Jonathan Grimes

COMMENT: About as solid position as there is on the team, especially if Foster is as healthy as he's appeared to be when they've asked him to work. Ronnie Brown gets left off, but I was tempted to go with the "veteran presence" wild card keep here.

FULLBACK (1)
1. Jay Prosch

COMMENT: They drafted him, he's played well. End of story. (Hey, they cut Brad Smelley before training camp because they loved Prosch so much. You don't cut SMELLEY unless you know you got something, man!)

TIGHT END (3)
1. Garrett Graham
2. C.J. Fiedorowicz
3. Ryan Griffin

COMMENT: My only comment here is I could see Fiedorowicz surpassing Graham as the starter at some point early in the season. He's just more multiple, if I can use that as an adjective.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)
1. Andre Johnson
2. DeAndre Hopkins
3. Mike Thomas
4. DeVier Posey
5. Keshawn Martin
6. Uzoma Nwachukwu

COMMENT: Dammit, I so want to put Travis Labhart in here, and if it were me, I'd take him over Thomas. I just get the sense from how they're being used that Thomas is higher up the food chain, and if they keep an extra receiver, he needs to help in the return game and bring a unique trait of some sort on offense. "EZ" is a better return guy than Labhart, and he has top end speed to stretch a defense. Those are the tie breakers.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
1. Duane Brown
2. Ben Jones
3. Chris Myers
4. Brandon Brooks
5. Derek Newton
6. Xavier Su'a-Filo
** 7. Tyson Clabo
** 8. Alex Kupper
** 9. Will Yeatman

COMMENT: I could see the bottom three guys all gone before the opener. Clabo has looked slow and clumsy way too often, Kupper has not played well, and Yeatman missed most of camp with a concussion and may still make the team (which is telling).

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
1. J.J. Watt
2. Jerrell Powe
3. Jared Crick
4. Tim Jamison
5. Ricardo Mathews
6. Louis Nix III
7. Jeoffrey Pagan

COMMENT: Seven defensive linemen for a 3-4 team is not optimal, but Nix's slow recovery from injury along with the development of Pagan has put the team in a tough spot. I feel like Jared Crick should be on a thinner bubble than he is, for some reason, but his image indicates firmer ground than that.

INSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
1. Brian Cushing
2. Mike Mohamed
3. Jeff Tarpinian
4. Justin Tuggle

COMMENT: Max Bullough just misses out. Should be practice squad guy.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
1. Jadeveon Clowney
2. Brooks Reed
3. Whitney Mercilus
** 4. Quentin Groves

COMMENT: Jason Ankrah is the obvious name missing here. For me, it came down to who could the Texans sneak onto the practice squad easier -- Ankrah at OLB or Pagan at DE? I chose Ankrah.

CORNERBACK (6)
1. Johnathan Joseph
2. Kareem Jackson
3. A.J. Bouye
4. Andre Hal
** 5. Elbert Mack
** 6. Brandon Harris

COMMENT: I so want to put Josh Victorian on this team ahead of Brandon Harris, and if I were the head coach, I would. I just think Harris is going to make the team, and I hate that.

SAFETY (4)
1. D.J. Swearinger
2. Kendrick Lewis
3. Chris Clemons
** 4. Shiloh Keo

COMMENT: Keo's spot on the team was in jeopardy, and he came up with a huge game. Good for him.

SPECIALISTS (3)
1. Jon Weeks, long snapper
2. Randy Bullock, kicker
3. Shane Lechler, punter

COMMENT: No surprise here. Bullock clinched his spot with a 52 yard field goal in the preseason finale.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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3 comments
bgoad
bgoad topcommenter


Kerry Goad7 seconds ago via YouTubeOnly Me
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tjiocca
tjiocca

I think Max Bullough is going to make the team.

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