The Houston Texans are a team quickly on the rise. No longer can you pencil in the Patriots, Colts, and Steelers as the AFC’s Super Bowl representative.
Unlike most teams in the league, the Texans do not have a glaring weakness. They have one of the league’s best rushing attacks as well as defensive units. To make them even tougher to beat, they have a more than capable passing game that routinely burns defenses with play-action.
Here are five of the most memorably draft selections that have helped shape them into a Super Bowl contender.
No. 5: David Carr, 2002
The Houston Texans are one of the elite teams in the NFL, thanks in part to the success they have had drafting players. Carr doesn’t fit under this category however, as he is largely considered one of the biggest busts after being selected with the first overall pick in the 2002 draft.
I would venture to say the Texans didn’t get their monies worth after giving Carr a seven-year, $46.2 million rookie contract. Carr holds the dubious NFL record of being the most sacked quarterback in a single season, after being sacked 76 times in his rookie campaign.
In his 2002-2006 stint with the Texans, he threw 65 interceptions versus only 59 touchdowns. For those keeping score at home, that is a stunning $783,050 per touchdown. If only we all could make that amount of dough while being a bust at our job.
Carr was released in 2007 after the Texans acquired Matt Schaub.
No. 4: Brian Cushing, 2009
Cushing’s career has been a crossroads of both good and bad. On the good side, he has been a highly-productive linebacker when on the field. On the bad side, he has missed significant time due to both suspension and injury.
Cushing began his career looking like he could be one of the best linebackers of all time. His inaugural year earned him both a Pro Bowl selection, and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. This after compiling a ridiculous stat line of 133 tackles, 4 sacks, 10 pass deflections, 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.
This performance would be tainted however, after being suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season, due to testing positive for a banned substance. After his return, Cushing didn’t play at the same clip as the year before.
He did return to form in 2011, as he finished with 114 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions. This performance earned him an AP-2nd Team All-Pro award.
His career roller-coaster would dip again in 2012, as he missed the final 11 games of the season after tearing his ACL.
No. 3: Mario Williams, 2006
Like Carr, Williams was drafted with the first overall pick. But unlike Carr, Williams made a positive impact for the Texans. Although Williams didn’t have an extraordinary run with the team, his time there was solid.
Williams earned Pro Bowl status after recording 12 sacks and 53 tackles in 2008, and then again in 2009 after recording 43 tackles and 9 sacks.
After two consecutive seasons of being placed on injured reserve, Williams’s time with the Texans would end after the 2011 season. As a free agent, he signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2012
No. 2: J.J. Watt, 2011
After being selected with the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Watt just may be the impetus for the firing of 10 NFL general managers. He has been a terrorizing force, and in my opinion, the most disruptive player in the league.
In 2012, Watt was named to the Pro Bowl, and was also named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a truly remarkable accomplishment, after only his second NFL season. He finished the season with 81 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 16 passes defended.
For Texans fans, they can only hope to see more of this type of productions for years to come.
No. 1: Andre Johnson, 2003
Andre Johnson is one of the top receivers in the game today, and he has been synonymous with the Houston Texans for all but one year of the team’s existence.
His combination of size, strength, and speed, has made him a match-up nightmare for NFL defensive backs. He is the pre-cursor to that other Johnson named Calvin out in Detroit.
Andre Johnson has been named to the Pro Bowl six times, leading the NFL in receiving yards in both 2008 and 2009. He has already amassed 11,254 receiving yards in just 10 seasons. He has averaged 80.4 receiving yards per game over his career, the highest such average of any player.
He also holds the NFL Record of being the only player with 60+ receptions in his first 8 seasons.