(SportsNetwork.com) - The Texans took a significant step forward last season under first-year coach Bill O'Brien but taking the next one and competing with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South figures to me much more difficult.
Quarterback remains the main issue in South Texas but O'Brien will hope one of a nondescript triumvirate -- free-agent pickup Brian Hoyer, former Tom Brady backup Ryan Mallett or strong-armed, second-year man Tom Savage steps up. For that to happen Houston needs weapons and a replacement for perhaps the best player in franchise history, Andre Johnson, who is now in Indianapolis.
The Texans signed Cecil Shorts to be an alternative opposite DeAndre Hopkins but snaring a player like Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, a 6-foot-3 nightmare for opposing defensive backs, could make it that much easier for whomever is under center. Other potential WRs that might be on the board at No. 16 overall are Central Florida speedster Breshad Perriman, Oklahoma enigma Dorial Green- Beckham and Southern California's Nelson Agholor.
Defensively, injuries have taken a toll on Brian Cushing at linebacker and there is no guarantee last year's top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney is going to be healthy. Add in the fact that Houston lost Brooks Reed in free agency and the position needs to be replenished on both the inside and outside. No inside 'backers are worthy of going in the middle of the first round but if the Texans want a pass rusher to help out J.J. Watt, the free-falling Randy Gregory of Nebraska or Shane Ray of Missouri could be options.
2014 Record: 9-7
Top Needs: WR, LB, OL, CB
First Three Picks: No. 16, No. 51, No. 82
Number of Selections: 10 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7)
FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2014 - Jadeveon Clowney (DE/LB, South Carolina); 2013 DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson); 2012 - Whitney Mercilus (OLB, Illinois); 2011 - J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin); 2010 - Kareem Jackson (CB, Alabama); 2009 - Brian Cushing (LB, USC); 2008 - Duane Brown (OT, Virginia Tech); 2007 - Amobi Okoye (DT, Louisville); 2006 - Mario Williams (DE, North Carolina State); 2005 - Travis Johnson (DT, Florida State)