4TH AND INCHES

Executing the vision, 3 players that can immediately help the Houston Texans establish the run

Executing the vision, 3 players that can immediately help the Houston Texans establish the run
Help could be on the way for Damion Pierce and the Texans. Composite image by Brandon Strange.
Houston Texans have 4 strong reasons to be excited about what's to come

The Houston Texans want to be an aggressive and attack-first offense under DeMeco Ryans. In order for them to be able to fulfill that blueprint, the team is going to need a lot of reinforcement upfront to create a dominant run game.

While the Texans have a few pieces that are a good start in establishing that vision, such as running back Dameon Pierce and tackles Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard. However, they have a lot of work to do if they want to be able to complete the full puzzle.

One thing the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan, Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak offenses are known for is their flexibility, not just in play calling, but with players as well. The teams led by the similar style of offense Bobby Slowik will look to implement need depth and beef up front.

Here are three players the Texans could land in the 2023 NFL Draft with their 12th, second and third-round picks.

O'Cyrus Torrence - Florida

Torrence wasn’t a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. Only rated a three-star on multiple sites, he opted to play for Louisiana before transferring to Florida to end his collegiate career.

According to NFL’s Next Gen stats, Torrence has the second-highest rank above all guards in the draft this year. Throughout his entire college career, both at Louisiana and Florida, the 6-foot-5-inch, 347-pound lineman did not give up a single sack.

Torrence’s strengths are that he has a wide body and good use of his hands, which allow him to be an effective run blocker, according to NFL.com. NFL Draft Buzz called him the best run blocker of the 2023 class.

When it comes to landing Torrence, Houston might need to use its 12th overall pick, or possibly trade down a few spots. While the Texans have the No. 33 overall pick, Torrence will likely not fall down to the second round.

Having played right guard his entire collegiate career, Torrence would solidify the right side as Houston could finally leave Howard as right tackle instead of moving him to guard.

Andrew Vorhees - USC

Vorhees is the second-highest rated guard, per NFL Draft Buzz. According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, a scout of an NFC team said he is known for consistency game in and game out. The biggest drawback with Vorhees is that scouts do not expect him to have a high ceiling.

The 6-foot-6-inch, 325-pound guard is being touted for his strengths in the run game, which include his lateral quickness and ability to attack opposing lineman at the right angles. His physical strength is his biggest asset.

More importantly for the Texans, Vorhees is not expected to be a Day One selection, and could well be available for Houston to take in the second and third rounds. While scouts might not believe Vorhees has a Pro Bowl-caliber future ahead of him, being on the same line with Tunsil and Howard means Vorhees really just needs to do his job.

Vorhees’ biggest weaknesses are the length of his arms and his pass protection blocking. He played five seasons in college.

Jahmyr Gibbs - Alabama

When it comes to the running game, not everything revolves around the offensive line. While a lot of eyeballs are on Texas running back Bijan Robinson to be the first running back taken in the 2023 Draft, Houston does not need to use any of its first two picks at this position.

A nice Day Two pick could be Gibbs out of Alabama. With Pierce already on the roster, the Texans already have a powerhouse, power back. Bringing in Gibbs would be a nice change-of-pace for Houston’s offense.

Gibbs caught 20 or more passes in every single one of his three collegiate seasons. He caught 44 passes for 444 yards in 2022 for Alabama. He also rushed for 926 yards during the 2022 season.

Gibbs is known for his acceleration, cuts, and what separates him is his ability to be a great route runner and pass catcher, according Zierlein’s report. One of his biggest drawbacks is his play in the blocking game out of the backfield.

Because of Pierce, the Texans would not have to worry about needing Gibbs to be an every down back. He will likely be a second-round pick in this year’s draft.

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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