By TPR Staff

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As we continue the Team Needs series for the 2013 NFL Draft, we proceed to the team with the twenty-seventh overall pick; the Houston Texans. With another year of franchise records being set, the Texans ultimately spun their wheels in 2012 by getting just as far as they did the prior season.

Most thought that the defense would drop off from the previous season and that was confirmed the moment they lost team captain and defensive leader Brian Cushing for the season. A team just doesn’t shake off the loss of an all pro talent like him and the defense never recovered. But it was once the offense went flat, that was all she wrote for the 2012 season. With plenty of gaps to fill and some key free agents likely bolting, here is how I think Gary Kubiak, Rick Smith and the Texans war room will approach the upcoming draft.

Wide Receiver

It’s easy to look past when Andre Johnson has set so many records, but the Texans haven’t selected a wide receiver in the first two rounds of the draft since they selected him a decade ago. Knowing how Gary Kubiak thinks, I still have a hard time believing that this is the season that changes, but it is still their top need with Kevin Walter being cut and no one else on the roster being a true second option. Not to mention that Andre Johnson will be getting another year older. If DeAndre Hopkins is there for them at twenty seven, he should be the pick, as he would be a perfect fit in this system.

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Draft Possibilities: DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter

Inside Linebacker

As evidenced by the fall off after the Brian Cushing injury, the Texans not only need depth at the position, but they need a playmaker to put next to Cushing. There are talks that the team will experiment with sliding Brooks Reed over there, but I’m thinking a second round selection of a guy like Kevin Reddick would be more ideal and a better fit.

Draft Possibilities: Kevin Reddick, Kevin Minter

Offensive Line

There are some major disagreements among the base of the team in regards to the Houston offensive line. Replacing consistent players like Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel proved to be tough in 2012 and an upgrade at right tackle would be ideal. Also, with the last season of Wade Smith’s deal coming up, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up a cap casualty. If so, Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks are about to see a lot more playing time and depth is needed at guard. With a compensatory pick in the third round, don’t be surprised to see a tackle like Chris Faulk and a guard like Alvin Bailey be the picks.

Draft Possibilities: Chris Faulk, Alvin Bailey

Safety

Even as I write this, the safety position for Houston could change drastically in the next few hours. Glover Quin is a free agent and is rumored to be hotly sought after. If the Texans are unable to retain him, not only will they need depth, but a starter beside Danieal Manning. This is one of the thinnest positions on the team even with Quin on it. So expect this need to slide up this list if he walks. The best option early for the Texans would be to jump on a cover guy like Jonathan Cyprien in the first round. Otherwise, good depth in the later rounds should Quin stay.

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Draft Possibilities: Jonathan Cyprien, Shawn Williams

Nose Tackle

This has been a pressing need for this team for years, but they always seem to kick the can down the road for cheaper options. With Shaun Cody a free agent, the team needs a better plan to man the middle of Wade Smith’s 3-4 defense than just running Earl Mitchell out there. However, the giant space eater type has never seemed to be what Smith looks for in his scheme. So at the earliest, I think a prospect like Jesse Williams in the second would be a better fit than Jonathan Jenkins in the first.

Draft Possibilities: Jesse Williams, Montori Hughes

For the first draft in awhile, I could see the Texans going in any direction early. They’ve picked defense in the first in nine of the last ten drafts, so going that way wouldn’t surprise me. But the way that the offense fizzled out in the second half of the season has to be concerning to head coach Gary Kubiak.

Texans Broncos Football

Matt Schaub showed an odd decline towards the end of the season that most are unsure if it was an anomaly or  a trend. Even so, he is a system guy and if the system isn’t working, he isn’t working. So finding him another weapon to throw the ball to has to be a high priority or else he just locks onto Andre Johnson. This team needs speed in the pass catching game in the worst way. With how slow they looked in the postseason, it’s clear that it does not have anything like that on the roster as of now. But another year with a late season fizzle and it might be time to wonder if they’ve hitched their wagon on the wrong horse.

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