Texans have blue-chip players at the most important positions

There are only a select few blue-chip players at every position in the NFL and not every position has the same value.

Here’s a look at the most important positions in the NFL, a description of blue-chip players and how the two mesh on the Texans roster.

What’s a blue-chip player? These are the elite players around the league. They’re the guys who have the talent to be named to the All-Pro first or second team every year.

A tier below the All-Pro, blue-chip status are players we’ll list with Pro Bowl potential. These are players who are better than the median starter at their position in the NFL with the talent to be named to the Pro Bowl.

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The Pro Bowl isn’t as prestigious or as difficult to make as it is to be named All-Pro. Many players will opt out of the game, opening it up for another wave of players to be named.

Every novice can tell you that the most important position in football is the quarterback position. Your first goal is to land a blue-chip player at this position as it increases the likelihood of winning in the NFL more than any other position and is the hardest to find a true elite talent. 

After teams land their blue-chip quarterback they attempt to land blue-chippers at the next most important positions.

Here are the most important positions in football and how Houston has targeted blue-chippers at the top positions.

Texans have blue-chip players at the most important positions

Top-5 positions

  • QB C.J. Stroud
  • EDGE Danielle Hunter and Will Anderson Jr.
  • LT  Laremy Tunsil
  • CB Derek Stingley Jr.
  • WR Stefon Diggs and Nico Collins

When listing the top five most important positions in the NFL in order, we can see that the Texans have a blue-chipper in every major slot. Not only that but they’ve doubled up at defensive end and receiver with two candidates that have blue-chip level performances or potential. Pro Football Focus believes Stroud, Anderson Jr. and Collins are the Texans’ most important players this year.

Stroud’s rookie season was so phenomenal that he accomplished a feat that only Joe Montana (1989) and Tom Brady (2007) have accomplished. The trio each led the league in touchdown-interception ratio and average pass yards per game. Not only has no other quarterback led both categories in the same season but the two that did along with Stroud are considered among the greatest to play the game and did it once in the prime of their career as opposed to their first season in the league.

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MORE: Is C.J. Stroud already a top-5 quarterback?

Hunter is one of two active players (along with T.J. Watt) and 12 all-time to have three seasons or more with at least 14.5 sacks. Anderson Jr. was the only player in the NFL this past year to rank among the top three edge players in pass rush win-rate and run-stop win rate. Together they’re going to be a nightmare. 

Tunsil’s pass protection is effortless and each rep is a work of art. The penalties are a nuisance but don’t take away from his elite skill set. 

Stingley Jr. has struggled to stay on the field dating back to college. Despite the missed time, when he returned for the second half of his second season last year he outproduced every other cornerback in the league. 

Diggs has averaged more than 100 receptions, 1,250 yards and nine receiving touchdowns over the last six seasons while missing only three games of action. Collins had a breakout campaign in his third season with 80 receptions for 1,297 yards and eight receiving touchdowns before the Texans inked him to a three-year extension ahead of the season. He’s missed 12 games in three years but played among the elite at the position last season. 

Pro Bowl talent

  • RB Joe Mixon
  • WR Tank Dell
  • TE Dalton Schultz
  • RT Tytus Howard
  • DT Denico Autry
  • LB Azeez Al-Shaair & Christian Harris

The Texans hammered the five most important positions in the NFL with all seven of their blue-chippers at those five positions. All seven are starters with two defensive ends and two receivers. It’s the ideal construction to a roster with the intent to mesh top talent at the most important positions.

Mixon isn’t an elite running back but has the talent as a rusher and receiver to put up top-of-the-league production in total scrimmage yards. His talent combined with that surrounding him could easily land him in the Pro Bowl following the season.

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This may be Dell’s final year not listed on the blue-chip list. Houston is truly that close to having their top-three receivers all listed as blue-chippers. The limited action and unfortunate injury on and off the field caps him as a Pro Bowl but if he plays all season, he could be ascending up the list for 2025.

MORE: Texans offensive position grades post-2024 NFL Draft

Schultz is a solid, well-rounded tight end. Similar in his position to Mixon at running back. He’s not going to compete with the top of the league but has the talent and veteran ability to put up 80 receptions, 800 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, again, like he did in 2021.

Howard’s career has been sidetracked with multiple injuries and constantly moving from the outside to the interior on the line. If he can return completely healthy and be allowed to stay at right tackle, then the Texans will have another stud offensive tackle.

Autry’s versatility, production and talent is a major addition to the Texans’ defensive front. He can take reps at defensive tackle or on the outside. Over the last three seasons, Autry has averaged 36 tackles, 18 QB hits, 10 TFLs, 9.5 sacks and five PDs a year. 

MORE: Texans defensive positional grades post-2024 NFL Draft

Al-Shaair and Harris only missed one game combined this past season and together totaled 264 tackles, 16 TFLs, 11 PDs, nine QB hits and four sacks. The Texans duo both could be in Pro Bowl consideration with Harris ready for a Year 3 leap in his second year in head coach DeMeco Ryans’ system. Al-Shaair reunites with Ryans after their time together in San Francisco and knows exactly what Ryans expects.  

Young talent

  • C Juice Scruggs
  • OG Kenyon Green
  • OT Blake Fisher
  • RB Jawhar Jordan
  • WR John Metchie III
  • TE Cade Stover
  • DT Marcus Harus
  • CB Kamari Lassiter
  • S Jalen Pitre and Calen Bullock

Houston has three players on the offensive line that they’ve invested first and second-round picks over the past three drafts. Green and Scruggs could be starters this year with Fisher expected to backup in a swing tackle role with the ability to step up as a starter if called upon as a rookie.

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Jordan is expected to factor into the running back mix with Mixon and Dameon Pierce. He can also contribute on special teams, especially with the new kickoff rules.

Metchie III spent his rookie season overcoming injury and illness. This past year he worked back to NFL game shape and rounded into form by the end of the season. This year, he is looking to display the talent that made him a second-round pick.

Stover comes into a great environment with his former college quarterback and a savvy veteran ahead of him at the position. By Year 3, Stover could prove to be a steal as a fourth-round draft pick.

Harris has the talent, scheme fit and depth chart ahead of him to quickly rise the ranks at the position in Houston. He should provide immense ROI for the Texans as a seventh-round selection. 

Lassiter has NFL talent, the only real question is where he’ll line up to display it. He should find instant success under Ryans. The Texans could improve the slot corner position with Lassiter as a rookie or start him outside opposite Stingley. Regardless, he’ll factor in immediately and there’s a good chance we see him at both.

Pitre and Bullock have the potential to complement each other perfectly on the backend of the defense. Pitre was a top-40 selection and Bullock was a Day 2 pick as well. If they mesh under the on-field tutelage of Jimmie Ward they can take the Texans’ defense to another level in the coming years.

Do the Texans have enough blue-chip talent?

The Texans have brilliantly built up the most important positions on the roster with blue-chip talent via the draft, free agency and trades. 

Houston filled the rest of the 2024 roster out with starters who have Pro Bowl talent except for a few positions. Youth has been added in recent years to provide upside across the roster, especially at the few positions with replacement-level starters in front-line roles.

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