CREIGHT EXPECTATIONS

Patrick Creighton: 5 players for the Texans to target post draft

Dez Bryant would be a good fit for the Texans. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

While the Houston Texans may be an incomplete team, they still have quite a bit of money available on their cap.  $32M+ available actually, so how could they use it?

Here are 5 players the team could target to help shore up some of the needs they have.

1. C.J. Anderson – RB

Anderson has been a productive back in shared time.  Last season he rushed for over 1000 yds on 4.1 YPC behind a bad offensive line and with nothing at quarterback.

Only 27, the 5-8, 224 lb bowling ball back also has solid hands out of the backfield as a receiver.

Anderson is going to make some team look brilliant for signing him, the only question is who.  While Anderson may be seeking a scenario where he enters the team as the lead back and not in a situation of a time share, the Texans should be willing to find out.

Anderson was more productive in a more limited role than Lamar Miller, who has been disappointing as a Texan. With the uncertainty surrounding the return of D’Onta Foreman, Anderson seems like an obvious move to add to the RB group, as without Foreman, there’s nothing behind Miller.  Anderson could very well wrestle that top job away from Miller, but will definitely create a spirited competition.

2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – CB

At 6-2, DRC is a bigger corner who can mix it up and get up on bigger NFL receivers.  The 32 year old is only a year removed from a 6 INT season, but saw himself in a diminished role last season as Ben McAdoo looked for ways to destroy a 2016 playoff team in 2017, and ultimately paid for it with his job.

DRC can still go, and is regarded as a team leader.  Considering the team would like to move Kareem Jackson to safety, and Kevin Johnson is an injury waiting to happen, getting some quality depth on the cheap at corner would be a wise investment.

3. Dez Bryant – WR

Forget the hype about how Dez hasn’t had a 1,000 yard season in 3 years, it’s a rather misleading statistic.

In 2015, he was catching passes from the likes of Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore before injury sidelined him for the rest of the season after nine games.

In 2016, despite Dallas prioritizing the run with Ezekiel Elliott, and playing with a rookie QB in Dak Prescott, Bryant was on pace for over 1000 yds and double digit touchdowns had he not missed three games with injury and basically sat out the entire Week 17 game as Dallas had already clinched and it was a meaningless game.  Essentially he had 50 receptions for 796 yds and 8 TDs in 12 games. He averaged nearly 16 YPC.

Last season the Cowboys entire offense was a mess.  Dak regressed, Zeke was suspended six games, the OLine crumbled with injuries, plus Dez played hurt the final 7 weeks of the season.   

With an offseason to recover and a mega chip on his shoulder, a refocused and hungry Bryant is an enormous mismatch vs. defenses, and would always face single coverage as teams need to doubleteam DeAndre Hopkins.

Having a reliable WR who can be a game changer opposite Hopkins would be a huge boost for the Texans offense,  especially considering the injury history of Will Fuller, the lack of quality WRs after Hopkins and Fuller, and the questionable state of the offensive line heading into the season.

4. Kenny Vaccaro – S

Vaccaro is a former first round pick who can play in and out of the box, get picks, cover TEs, and make tackles.

The Texans spent decent money on Tyrann Mathieu, but this would be much cheaper in getting a "prove it" style deal with Vaccaro, who is coming off surgery to repair a core muscle tear.

Vaccaro has experience, is only 27, and despite missing four games last season, has been generally durable in his career.

Vaccaro would certainly be a step up over the often injured Dre Hal, and would give the Texans the ability to show a strong three safety look on the defense with Vaccaro, Mathieu, and Jackson.  As an added bonus, Texans fans wouldn’t have to see Corey Moore blow any more assignments.

5. Marcedes Lewis – TE

Lewis is not a young player (he’s 33) but he’s a very solid player, a team leader, and unlike any other TE on the Texans roster, he can actually block.

He’s spent his entire 12 year career in Jacksonville, so he knows the AFC South.  He can also be a solid red zone target (Lewis is 6-6, 255) and security blanket for Deshaun Watson when the protection breaks down and he needs an additional target.

Ryan Griffin is not a strong blocker and Stephen Anderson is essentially a big WR masquerading as a TE.  Both are inconsistent receivers and poor blockers. Lewis’ ability to help in protection alone would make him an automatic starter on this team.

$32M is a lot of cash, and the Texans certainly shouldn’t burn all of it in case some team cuts an offensive lineman who could be of service.  That said, these five players wouldn’t cost them $32M, but they could deliver a big return as the Texans look to get back to the playoffs in 2018.

Patrick Creighton is the host of “Late Hits” weeknights 7-9p on ESPN 97.5; “Straight Heat” weeknights 9p-12a on SB Nation Radio/SportsMap 94.1 FM; “Nate & Creight” Sundays 12-5p SB Nation Radio/SportsMap 94.1 FM.  Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

 

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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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