Final Texans Position Analysis- Defense

Mario Williams (Getty Images)

The Texans cut veterans and rookies alike, and even made a trade last week to polish and prune their roster to the league-mandated number of 53. Battle Red Nation ranks the strength of each position.

Defensive ends- Mario Williams, Antonio Smith, Connor Barwin, Tim Bulman

Mario Williams is a physical freak as he is 6'5", 290 lbs., and is as fast as most running backs. Williams is an elite pass rusher who can play the run equally as well. Williams has more than justified his selection as the top overall pick in the 2006 draft...Smith is the Texans big free agent acquisition, and he was brought in to add some pass rush that they've been missing opposite Williams. Smith is known as a 3-4 end...Barwin will be a pass rushing specialist and he responded in Texans preseason by notching a sack in his first two games...Bulman is another situational rusher who has great ability.

Strength ranking: 7 out of 10


Defensive tackles- Shaun Cody, Amobi Okoye, DelJuan Robinson, Frank Okam, Jeff Zgonina

Shaun Cody was a free agent pickup from Detroit, and has played very well since arriving in Houston. Cody's presence allowed for the dismissal of former first-round pick Travis Johnson via a trade to San Diego...Okoye is going to be the key to this unit's success as he needs to show the flashes that he did as a rookie two years ago. Okoye has been slowed by injuries and mediocre ever since...Robinson is a very large tackle who can suck up blocks and play well against the run...Okam is a large man who is seemingly coming into his own. Okam is equally effective against the pass and the run...Zgonina is the elder statesman of the group as he is entering his 17th season at defensive tackle. Zgonina will be used as a rotational pass rush defensive tackle.

Strength ranking: 5 out of 10


Linebackers- DeMeco Ryans, Zac Diles, Xavier Adibi, Kevin Bentley, Brian Cushing, Chaun Thompson

DeMeco Ryans is one of the best MLB's in the game as he has great instincts and is in on seemingly every play...Diles is trying to return from a broken leg, and was fantastic a year ago prior to his injury. He'll be fighting for a starting job with Xavier Adibi...Adibi is an athletic linebacker who is very good at rushing the passer. He has been a liability in coverage from time to time...Bentley is a great backup and special teams player...Cushing was one of the most polished linebackers in the draft, but Texans fans haven't seen much from him thanks to a knee injury. When he is 100% it is understood that he will be a starter. Chaun Thompson is another depth type of player whose main contribution will be on special teams.

Strength ranking: 7 out of 10


Cornerbacks- Dunta Robinson, Jacques Reeves, Glover Quin, Brice McCain, Antwaun Molden, Fred Bennett

Dunta Robinson is a fine corner, but it will have to be determined what kind of shape he'll be in as he decided to sit out all of training camp and preseason after being franchised. He is clearly the most talented cornerback on the team, but there could be some rust early in the season...Reeves will not be a factor for the first few weeks as he suffered a leg injury...Quin will likely be a depth type of player early on...McCain had a very good preseason and if Robinson or Bennett can't go, he would be the starter...Molden missed much of last season with injury, and it's unclear what he can contribute right away...Bennett is the de facto starting corner opposite Robinson, as he is the most experienced healthy player. Bennett struggled in coverage last season, but has had a solid preseason.

Strength ranking: 5 out of 10


Safeties- Nick Ferguson, Eugene Wilson, John Busing, Dominique Barber

Nick Ferguson is an average safety who is better in run support than in coverage....Wilson is coming off a knee injury that he suffered from a low Brett Favre block. Wilson can make big plays, but will give up his fair share...Busing is an overachiever who should make an impact on special teams...Barber could be a starter, as he is inexperienced, but talented.

Strength ranking: 3 out of 10


Special teams- Matt Turk, Kris Brown

Turk is a veteran punter with one of the best legs in the game. He routinely booms punts with big hang time, and can place the ball in the corner. Brown is a very consistent kicker who has had a great career as an original Texan.

Strength ranking: 8 out of 10

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