What will the Houston Texans need when it comes to safety?

HOUSTON — Although safety is no longer considered a priority, the Houston Texans still need to address the back end of the coverage going into free agency and the draft.

Texans coach Lovie Smith has recruited a new safety coach Joe Danna. Smith’s scheme is built on interchangeable players in cover, which presents a challenge for the GM Nick Caserio.

Danna, after three seasons in Jacksonville, just wants good football players first. After that, his job is to develop a high-end starter, regardless of free security and strong side.

How the Texans meet their needs safe ? Here’s a look at the position entering free agency.

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CURRENT LIST

Eric Murray: Murray has improved in the past five games, but he’s been inconsistent at best since joining Houston. Then-general manager Bill O’Brien signed him to a three-year, $18 million deal, and Murray fell short of those expectations. The Texans could cut it before free agency begins, saving nearly $5.5 million in the cap space.

Jonathan Owens: Owens flashed when given the chance start due to injury. Initially a member of the practice squad, he played every defensive snap in Weeks 15 and 16, recording 12 tackles and one interception. He’s done enough to earn a spot on the active roster and should be used on special teams.

Arnold of the Gray Lands: Arnold is a special teams player at best. In the four games he has been active, he has recorded three defensive snaps. He also played just 32 special teams snaps, with 11 being the most against the Jaguars in Week 15.

Kyle Hamilton
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FREE AGENCY TARGETS

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Justin Reid (Houston): Danna told reporters Tuesday that the easiest way for a team to struggle is to have players in the system for more than one season. Reid was also positive about hiring Smith and “not opposed to staying in Houston” for the right price. Since arriving in 2018, Reid has taken reps in both free and strong safety. He’s the type of player who can fill either role with ease and make plays consistently.

Durante Diggs (Seattle): That would swing for the fences, but Diggs might be worth the asking price. Since switching to nickel free security, he has improved every season. In Seattle, Diggs has recorded 11 interceptions, including five in each of the past two years. He’s a free safety that’s ready to make open-field tackles and is long enough to play in any formation.

Terrell Edmunds (Pittsburgh): Edmunds’ career got off to a rocky start, but the last two years have been their best since graduating from Virginia Tech. He has improved his coverage against tight ends and receivers, and continues to be a reliable tackler. Edmunds’ best attribute is his durability, having missed just one game since 2018.

Tracy Walker (Detroit): If you’re coming out the 2020 season, Walker is a standout safety. A long professional playmaker, the former third round was asked to play close to the line of scrimmage and be more physical in supporting the run under Matt Patricia. Walker is at his best in coverage and in space, but he’s willing to make open-field tackles against the run.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame): Hamilton has been mocked by the Texans many times and for good reason. Safety 6-4 can do just about anything at a high level. Some consider Hamilton the best player in the class, and with his size, reach, tackling skills and covering ability, he very well could be. Round Projection Project: Top 10

Jalen Pitre (Baylor): Once seen as just a run-stopping safety, Pitre proved he was capable of playing cover in the Senior Bowl. A synthetic tackler, he has great instincts when playing the race. Far from a finished product, Pitre has the tools to make an immediate impact on Houston’s secondary, both in terms of running support and coverage. Preliminary Round Screening: Round 2

Jaquan Brisker (Penn State): Prototypical security that can do a bit of everything. Brisker’s game mirrors Reid’s. He is a willful stopper who will deliver hard blows in space. Brisker also took on reps at both security locations and found success regardless of his role. It is a mobile chess piece that will respond to any defensive scheme. Preliminary Round Screening: Round 2

Kerby Joseph (Illinois): Smith knows Joseph well, having coached him in Illinois for three seasons. He’s a lanky defender who can mirror receivers deep and is ready to be physical at the point of attack. Joseph showed his ball skills last season, recording five interceptions and breaking up several passes. Projection of the repechage round: 3rd and 4th rounds


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