Admit it: more than once you've looked at your favorite team and said something to the effect of "Man, if we just had 'So-and-so' from way back when, this squad would be perfect."
It's a foolish, but fun, exercise. You have to play with the players you have or the players you can acquire.
Recently on our"In the Lab" podcast, John Harris and I each plucked three former Texans, who are retired from the NFL, who we think would fit perfectly on this squad. We also threw out a peak year for those three ex-players.
Naturally, 2010 Arian Foster, and any number of Andre Johnson years quickly come to mind. While you'd always love to have those two on any squad, we dug a little deeper and went with players we thought would drastically elevate the quality level of the team.
John went first and picked offensive lineman Mike Brisiel's 2010 season. He was part of a group up front that cleared the way for a 1,600-yard rushing season by Foster, and 4,300 yards through the air by Matt Schaub.
My first choice was also a guard, in 2011 Wade Smith. I could've gone with the 2010 version as well, but since Wade pounced on a 2011 fumble in the end zone at Baltimore, I figured the extra scoring oomph might help a little. Those first two picks help you upgrade the line up front, and would give Deshaun Watson some more time.
John went with defense for his second pick, nabbing 2002 cornerback Aaron Glenn. He was a Pro Bowler that year, picking off five passes and returning two of those for touchdowns. He also finished with 56 tackles. The Glenn of that season would bolster any secondary.
I went back to the offensive line for my second selection, and added 2008 left guard Chester Pitts. He started every game from 2002 through the second week of 2009, and had settled in at the guard spot by then. But Pitts, like Smith, played other spots on the line and would give the current line some options and flexibility. He's also a good dude and solid broadcaster, and my Broseph up on the videoboard now for Texans gamedays.
John's final selection was tight end Owen Daniels. He played in multiple Pro Bowls, is the gold standard at the position in franchise history, and caught 70 passes for 862 yards that year. Adding him to an arsenal that includes DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller would give the Texans the potential for a lot of mismatches.
Speaking of mismatches, my last pick went for Mario Williams. You have Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, so why not add another top-flight pass-rusher? I went with the 2007 verision of Williams, who sacked opposing quarterbacks 14 times that season, and returned a fumble for a score. Bringing Williams in would add to the matchup nightmares for opposing lines. Someone would be left 1-on-1, and some of those 1-on-1's would be a tight end trying to stop one of the Texans.
Fullback Vonta Leach from 2010 was John's honorable mention addition, because he went to the Pro Bowl that year and helped clear the way for Foster.
My honorable mention was 2009 safety Bernard Pollard. He joined the team late that year, but really helped stabilize the back end of the defense, picking off four passes and tallying 81 tackles.
In a fantasy-land, you've strengthened the offensive line and the defense with these picks, and added a weapon for Watson in 2018. In the real world, none of this actually matters. But it's fun to mix-and-match, and it's a nice little exercise to go through in early February.
JOHN HARRIS' FORMER TEXANS TO ADD
1. 2010 OL Mike Brisiel
2. 2002 CB Aaron Glenn
3. 2008 TE Owen Daniels
HONORABLE MENTION: 2010 FB Vonta Leach
DREW DOUGHERTY'S FORMER TEXANS TO ADD
1. 2011 OL Wade Smith
2. 2008 OL Chester Pitts
3. 2007 DE/OLB Mario Williams
HONORABLE MENTION: 2009 S Bernard Pollard
Check out some of the best photos of QB Deshaun Watson during his rookie season.