It might just be me, but it feels like this offseason has dragged on longer than ever. As such, the 2021 season can't get here fast enough. 17 games. Three preseason tilts. It's time to get this thing ROLLING in a hurry. In those 17 regular season tilts, the Texans will face their share of legends and emerging stars so I sat down with all 14 rosters and the schedule to put together another unique version of the Harris 100 - the best players the Texans will face in 2021.
Without specifically ranking them as I do for the NFL draft (Rams star Aaron Donald would be number one if I did do that), I came up with the top 100 players the Texans will face and a handful of Honorable mention names to watch as well. I will break this into position groups over the next couple of weeks and today it's time for the cornerbacks, slot corners and special teamers (in chronological order when the Texans face each player).
A few quick "By the Numbers" notes on the 2021 Harris 100 corners, slot/nickel corners and special teamers from the 2020 season…
2 - There were two first team All-Pro cornerbacks in 2020 and the Texans face both in 2021 (Howard, Ramsey)
3 - The Texans face three players on the Harris 100 for special teams from New England
3 - The Texans face three corners on the Harris 100 from New England
2 - The Texans have faced every corner/slot corner on the Harris 100 except two (Darious Williams and Troy Hill)
5 - The Texans face five corners (four are on this list) that had four+ interceptions in 2020
19 - Xavien Howard (Dolphins) and J.C. Jackson were 1-2 in the league in interceptions in 2020, totaling 19 interceptions.
9 - Patriots Matt Slater has been to nine Pro Bowls. No player in this category entered the league prior to the start of his first Pro Bowl season in 2011.
Alright, let's roll. These are the corners, slot/nickel corners and special teamers that made the Harris 100 - The best players the Texans will face in 2021.
Bold - Pro Bowl in 2020
* - 1st Team All-Pro in 2020 (AP, Pro Football Writers, Sporting News)
** - 2nd Team All-Pro in 2020 (AP, Pro Football Writers, Sporting News)
C.J. Henderson, Jacksonville (Week 1 & Week 15)
There's plenty of talent and promise but he only played eight games in 2020
36 tackles and an interception in his rookie campaign for the Jaguars
Denzel Ward, Cleveland (Week 2)
If Cleveland has the year many think they'll have, Ward should have the nation's attention in 2021
18 passes defensed, in addition to two interceptions, in just 12 games in 2020
**Tre'Davious White, Buffalo (Week 4)
One of the best in the league leads the Bills secondary
15 interceptions and 54 passes defensed in four years in the league for the Bills
J.C. Jackson, New England (Week 5)
Floridian with a ton of confidence and outstanding man-to-man coverage ability
2nd in the league with nine interceptions and 14 passes defensed in the 2020 season
Stephon Gilmore, New England (Week 5)
After nine years in the league, he's still one of the top three corners in the NFL.
Made the Pro Bowl after playing in just 11 games in 2020 - That's respect.
*Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams (Week 8)
The best. Period
Nine passes defensed and one interception in his first full season in 2020 in Los Angeles
Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams (Week 8)
Not a name many people knew until the playoffs, but he was playing at high level all season
Tied for seventh in the league with four interceptions in the 2020 season.
*Xavien Howard, Miami (Week 9)
Only one active NFL defender has had a double digit interception season. Yep, it's Howard.
Ten interceptions led the NFL, most in the league since 2007
Chris Harris Jr., Los Angeles Chargers (Week 16)
Not sure if he'll play inside or outside, but if he's healthy, he completes a stout Charger defense
37 tackles, one pick and two passes defensed in just nine games in 2020
Troy Hill, Cleveland (Week 2)
Hill chose to sign with Cleveland, following Johnson III to the Browns for 2021 and beyond.
Three picks and two pick sixes, in addition to 77 tackles, in 2020 for the Los Angeles Rams
Jonathan Jones, New England (Week 5)
Speedy cover man has found his niche in New England
Finished with two picks and six passes defensed, in addition to 74 tackles, in 2020
Kenny Moore II, Indianapolis (Week 6 & Week 13)
I've said that Moore II is the best nickel in the league and he's one heck of a nuisance for the Texans
80 tackles, four interceptions, 13 passes defensed and 2.0 sacks in 2020
Matt Slater, New England (Week 5)
The heart, soul and playmaking presence on the outstanding Patriots' special teams' units
Made the Pro Bowl for the ninth time, twice more than his HOF OT pops Jackie (Rams)
Jake Bailey & Gunner Olszewski, New England (Week 5)
They have to share this spot so I don't go over 100 players!
Both were 1st Team All-Pro in 2020 for the Patriots
George Odum, Indianapolis (Week 6 & Week 13)
What a valuable piece Odum has become for the Colts!
1st Team All-Pro Special teams in 2020, led league with 20 special teams tackles
Nick Bellore, Seattle (Week 14)
Former college linebacker made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2020 at age 31
14 special teams tackles was third in the league in 2020