Pro Football Focus calls on a trio to carry the torch.
All at once it can seem like just yesterday and a century ago that players like Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing came to mind when people mentioned the best players on the Houston Texans.
These days, most fans long for that level of talent at any of those positions. From Arian Foster to worst running game in the league. Watt and Cushing to a bottom-of-the-barrel run defenses. The times, they have changed.
Thankfully, the drop off from Andre Johnson to the Texans current number one wide receiver isn’t nearly so precipitous.
Brandin Cooks Houston Texans Stats
In a league full of pass happy offensive coordinators, a team can hardly compete without a star receiver. Thankfully, not only do the Houston Texans have one in Brandin Cooks, the player himself seems to have no interest in balling anywhere other than H-Town.
In the two seasons since Cooks joined the battle red faithful, he’s racked up 171 catches for 2187 yards, a 12.79 yards per catch average and 12 touchdowns. With the emergence of Nico Collins and the addition of John Metchie, Cooks should have an even better 2022.
Pro Football Focus recently did a piece on the top three players from every NFL team, and, as one would expect, Cooks made Houston’s list.
There was some thought that the Texans could look to move on from both Tunsil and Cooks as they push forward with their rebuild, but they instead restructured Tunsil’s contract and gave Cooks a new two-year extension to serve as Davis Mills’ (or whoever else may end up at quarterback in 2023) top wide receiver.
The interesting decision came at the No. 3 spot. Houston has undoubtedly improved the roster over the last year, but it is still lacking proven, elite talent to build around. Stingley — the No. 2 overall player on PFF’s Big Board — got the nod despite not playing an NFL snap because of just how talented he is. While his play was inconsistent the last two seasons at LSU, he was the top cornerback in college football as a true freshman in 2019 (91.7 PFF grade). That talent didn’t just disappear.
While Tunsil’s run blocking hasn’t been all that, or a bag of chips, he is one of the NFL’s elite pass protectors. And, second year quarterback Davis Mills needs that to continue his development.
Yesterday’s announcement that Texans head coach Lovie Smith and his staff have determined Tunsil will remain at left tackle, Tytus Howard will stay at right tackle and rookie Kenyon Green will lock down one of the guard positions should help shore up the run blocking as well.
Per Texans HC Lovie Smith the Texans will
“Keep Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard at the Tackle position and Kenyon Green will be playing guard” pic.twitter.com/IGADFfmw3y
— Drew (@IndepthTexans) May 31, 2022
Derek Stingley Jr. Highlights
Not sure whether the top three spot for rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. speaks to how incredible this young man is, or how talent starved the Texans roster seems to be, but either way, the folks at PFF are high on the former LSU star.
“…the best recruit in the history of LSU football…”
Now, there’s a lot of “what have you done for me lately” shade getting thrown Stingley’s way based on his last two seasons in college. However, as with just about everything, there are no lack of mitigating circumstances for Stingley’s performance drop off.
Derek Stingley Big Board Rank: #2
This ranking is banking a lot on what Stingley put on tape a long time ago, but it’s not as if that talent went anywhere. He has allowed only a 41.1% completion percentage for his career and has been starting since his freshman year.
He’s got every single tool in the bag you could want to play corner at an elite level, but he just hasn’t been locked in the past two seasons.
Who do you think are the Houston Texans top three players for 2022?