FAILURE TO LAUNCH

Rockets are expected to play Thunder without several key starters

The Rockets are already off to a rocky start. Photo by Getty Images.

Not only will the Rockets likely be without James Harden in their first game of the season because of his alleged appearance at a club while not wearing a mask, now Shams Charania is reporting that John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins aren't expected to play due to contact tracing.

Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the contact tracing is connected to rookie KJ Martin. The Rockets will need to lean on Eric Gordon, Christian Wood, and PJ Tucker when they face the Thunder on Wednesday night. Houston has yet to play a game and the drama is already building.

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Could the Texans pass on QB? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Texans know it will have the second overall draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite that, the team is not so sure about who will be available to take with that selection.

One team that could shake things up in the draft is the AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts. Currently holding the No. 4 overall pick, the Colts are in desperate need for its next signal caller after years of trying to find Andrew Luck’s replacement.

If the Colts were to trade up to No. 1 with the Chicago Bears and take whoever was the Texans’ No. 1 player at quarterback, who should Houston take instead?

With the hiring of DeMeco Ryans a week ago, it is no doubt the Texans are going to be looking at numerous players on the defensive side of the ball who can make plays and be building blocks for Ryans’ swarm vision. But who are some of the players on that side of the ball that are viable options for the Texans to take at two or elsewhere if they choose to trade down?

Will Anderson Jr. – Alabama

The Texans were only 19th in the NFL when it came to sacks in the 2022 season, and they were dead last when it came to rushing yards allowed to opponents, giving up over 170 yards on the ground per game.

Will Anderson Jr. is a player that instantly would fill a need on the team if he was selected at No. 2. The 6-foot-4-inch linebacker at Alabama became a tackle-for-loss king for the Crimson Tide during his three years there.

Playing in 41 games for Alabama in his three-year stint, Anderson racked up 62 tackles for loss and an outstanding 34.5 sacks. In 2021, he was a monster who put up 34.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks alone in that season.

Ever since losing J.J. Watt after the 2020 season, the Texans have not had the identity nor the player with an ability to be a game wrecker for opposing teams. Anderson’s versatility on defense seems like a perfect fit for a Ryans' team because he is a player that can be relentless, make plays, and be adaptable.

Tyree Wilson – Texas Tech

Similar to Anderson, Tyree Wilson put together a strong résumé during his time at Texas Tech. What is most exciting about him is that every season with the Red Raiders he showed growth, which is mirrored by his numbers.

In 2020 after transferring from Texas A&M, he only had 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in nine games. That number jumped to 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2021 as he appeared in 13 games for Texas Tech. Lastly, in 2022, Wilson’s numbers once again jumped even though he only played in 10 games. He garnered 14 tackles for loss and still got seven sacks in less games.

Standing at 6 feet and 6 inches, Wilson has plenty of room left for growth. One of Wilson’s best games this season came against then 16th-ranked North Carolina State, when he got 11 tackles and two sacks against the Wolfpack.

Jalen Carter – Georgia

Jalen Carter will be a big addition upfront to whichever team he is drafted to. The 6-foot-3-inch defensive lineman was a key piece in Georgia’s back-to-back national championship-winning seasons.

When it comes to the Texans’ rushing defense struggles, taking an interior lineman would be addressing a need.

For Houston, taking Carter could be a game changer. The Bulldog was known for his ability to bulldoze into the backfield of opposing teams at Georgia. He accumulated 18.5 tackles for loss and six sacks from his interior position with the Bulldogs.

It is worth noting the Texans have interior lineman Roy Lopez on the roster, who has been a decent piece on the otherwise struggling Houston defensive line.

The bottom line, if Houston cannot take or chooses not to take a quarterback with the second overall pick, there are plenty of defensive choices on the board that could be nice additions to the Texans’ defense.

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