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 interior defensive linemen and the edge rushers (in chronological order when the Texans face each player).
A few quick "By the Numbers" notes on the 2021 Harris 100 Defensive Trench Warriors from the 2020 season…
2 - Former NFL Defensive Players of the Year (Watt, Donald) on the schedule
*As a side note, the 49ers and Seahawks will face them twice...each in 2021.
6 - Total NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards between those two (Watt - 3, Donald - 3) *As a side note, since 2012, Watt or Donald won the DPOY 6 out of 9 years. Yikes.
2 - Bosas on the Texans schedule in 2021 - Nick - SF and Joey - LA Chargers
4 - players with 9.5 sacks or more in 2020, finished in the top 13 in the league (Donald, Garrett, Floyd & Buckner)
51 - Total tackles for a loss in 2020 from Watt, Donald and Myles Garrett - all of whom finished in the top ten in that category.
25 - Players the Texans will face that had more sacks than the Texans' leader in sacks in 2020 (Watt). As a side note, not all of them made the Harris 100 (what a group!)
Alright, let's roll. These are the defensive front stars 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)
Josh Allen, Jacksonville (Week 1 & Week 15)
The Texans face a pair of Josh Allens in the Harris 100. This one sacks quarterbacks. A lot.
2.5 sacks in just eight games in 2020, including a ½ sack against the Texans in week eight
*Myles Garrett, Cleveland (Week 2)
The Gold Standard at Defensive end in the NFL in 2021
12.0 sacks, four forced fumbles in a 1st Team All-Pro 2020 season
Derrick Brown, Carolina (Week 3)
Numbers will never tell the story of how physically dominant Brown is game to game
12 quarterback hits and 34 tackles in an outstanding 2020 rookie season
Brian Burns, Carolina (OLB - Week 3)
Slippery and twitchy, Burns is a nightmare for tackles to consistently keep out of the backfield
16.5 sacks in two seasons, including 9.0 in 14 starts/15 games in 2020
Lawrence Guy, New England (Week 5)
There are certain players for which I have the utmost respect. Guy is one of those players.
Five fumble recoveries and 57 tackles in just 14 games in 2020
Matt Judon, New England (OLB - Week 5)
Baltimore let Judon test the free agency market and New England pounced nearly immediately.
15.5 sacks and 54 quarterback hits in the last two seasons as a Raven.
*DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis (Week 6 & Week 13)
GM Chris Ballard traded a first rounder for him last year and Buckner was WELL worth it.
9.5 sacks and career high 26 quarterback hits in his first season in Indianapolis in 2020
J.J. Watt, Arizona (Week 7)
Remember him? Watt led Texans in every D category except tackles in 2020
17 quarterback hits and 5.0 sacks while being the focus of every team's pass pro plan in 2020
Chandler Jones, Arizona (Week 7)
If, IF he's healthy, oh my!
Played in just five games in the 2020 season
**Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (Week 8)
2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year...3x DPOY. The best non-QB in the game. Period.
2nd highest season total 13.5 sacks, 28 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles in 2020
Leonard Floyd, Los Angeles Rams (Week 8)
The move to Los Angeles gave the former Chicago Bear edge rusher a major jolt
10.5 sacks, ninth in the league in 2020 for the Rams
Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee (Week 11 & Week 18)
Nowhere near his ceiling yet but he's hurt the Texans a ton the four times he faced them
Five passes defensed in 2020, not including one that negated Texans 2-pt. Attempt in Nashville
Bud Dupree, Tennessee (Week 11 & Week 18)
Coming off an ACL tear in 2020 late in the season.
8.0 sacks in just 11 games/11 starts - was on pace for career high in sacks before injury.
Quinnen Williams, New York Jets (Week 12)
On film, there were very few interior players that impressed more in 2020 than Williams
Nearly tripled his sack output from his rookie campaign (2.5 in 2019, 7.0 in 2020)
Carl Lawson, New York Jets (Week 12)
The edge player the Jets have lusted after for years...is finally a Jet
5.5 sacks and 32 quarterback hits in 16 games/just 11 starts in Cincinnati in 2020
*Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers (Week 16)
He signed a massive extension prior to the 2020 season then easily outplayed that contract
7.5 sacks (47.5 total sacks in five seasons in the league) in just ten starts in 2020 season
Nick Bosa, San Francisco (Week 17)
The younger Bosa missed nearly the entire season with an injury but he's ready to roll in 2021
Played in just two games in the 2020 season.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 7/27/2021)