Last month, Pro Football Focus released their annual list of the 50 best active players. Unsurprisingly, no one from the Texans’ roster made the cut. The team is deep in rebuilding mode, holding onto only a few key veterans. However, some of those veterans and even a few rookies have the potential this year to end up being considered for PFF50 in 2023.
PFF50 2023 Candidate: Brandin Cooks
The Texans are already in a tough spot with their wide receivers this year. With the terrible news that John Metchie III was diagnosed with leukemia, their most promising receiver will be out for the season. Hopefully the rising star’s youth and athleticism will help his recovery.
Although Metchie is a rookie, his absence will contribute to a widening gap in the Texans’ ability to pass the ball down the field. Antony Auclair was injured during practice last Friday, and Phillip Dorsett did not practice at all.
The Texans will likely need to rely on Brandin Cooks more this year. Although he’ll be entering his 9th season, Cooks has still been a reliable producer in the last few years. Cooks has only fumbled 3 times on 573 receptions across his career, and he regularly averages over 10 yards per catch every year. His tenacity and potential could easily land him a spot on PFF50 if he stays healthy.
PFF50 2023 Candidate: Derek Stingley Jr.
The Texans struggled tremendously on both sides of the ball in the 2021 season. Derek Stingley Jr. was drafted at number 3 overall precisely to wrap up the secondary. Although he only played 10 games in his last two years at LSU, his physical features and abilities were still impressive enough to land him a spot as one of Pro Football Focus’ top 3 players on the Texans.
At 6’1 and around 200 lbs, Derek Stingley Jr. is quite large for a cornerback. At that size most would expect a drop in speed, but the biggest surprise is that he can run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds. That physicality combined with his skills and instincts is why Stingley Jr. has already generated so much attention.
PFF50 2023 Candidates: Laremy Tunsil and Kenyon Green
The Texans were admittedly awful at blocking for the run in 2021, ending up dead last in run-block win rate. However, their ability to block for the pass was not nearly so bad. The team tried to strike a balance between improving run blocking while keeping the key players who made their pass block scheme successful.
Laremy Tunsil still has the potential to land in the top 50 active players, as long as he can stay healthy. In 2021 his pass-block win rate was 83.8% and his run-block win rate was 76.1%. Both of these are down considerably from just a few years ago, due mostly to injuries.
Kenyon Green was also selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, at 15 overall. The Texans chose him primarily for his excellent run blocking skills, although he has struggled blocking for the pass. Balance is clearly the goal here, with Green bringing to the table exactly what the veterans don’t have.
If Tunsil and Green can both stay healthy, they stand to learn and gain a lot from each other. Either one or both of them could end up on PFF’s top 50 next year. Tunsil can make the cut if he can make some sort of return close to his former glory. Green could be on the list if he fulfills his potential and improves his pass-blocking skills by learning from the veterans.