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 safeties (in chronological order when the Texans face each player).
A few quick "By the Numbers" notes on the 2021 Harris 100 safeties from the 2020 season…
9 - The overall number of safeties in the NFL in 2020 that had 100+ tackles
6 - Six of those safeties the Texans will face in 2021
4 - The Texans faced four of those nine last year in 2020
1 - The Texans will only one of those four in 2021 that made the Harris 100 (Byard)
21 - Chargers safety Derwin James has played just 21 games in three seasons, yet he's regarded (by me and others) as one of the top players in the entire league.
3 - The Texans have not faced three safeties that made the Harris 100 (Chinn, Maye, James)
2 - The Texans will face two safeties that made 1st or 2nd team All-Pro in 2020 (Baker, Adams)
Alright, let's roll. These are the safeties 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)
John Johnson III, Cleveland (Week 2)
The loquacious and productive safety signed with Cleveland this offseason.
Eight passes defensed and 105 tackles from his safety spot for the LA Rams in 2020
Jeremy Chinn, Carolina (Week 3)
Had an outstanding rookie campaign playing more of a linebacker spot, moves to S in 2021
117 tackles, two TFL, five pass defensed and two scoop 'n score touchdowns in 2020
Micah Hyde, Buffalo (Week 4)
The CPU of the Bills defensive unit in the back end.
70 tackles, a pick and five passes defensed for the AFC East champion Bills in 2020
Jordan Poyer, Buffalo (Week 4)
Size of a corner, tackles like a linebacker, plays like a true baller
124 tackles, two picks, two forced fumbles playing next to Hyde for the Bills in 2020
Julian Blackmon, Indianapolis (Week 6 & Week 13)
Hurt late in his 2019 college campaign, teams back off during the draft. Bad, BAD move
42 tackles, two picks and six passes defensed in 14 starts as a rookie for playoff team in 2020
*Budda Baker, Arizona (Week 7)
Completely and totally fearless with an amazingly high football IQ in tow, one of best S in the game
118 tackles, two picks and seven TFL for the Cardinals in a Pro Bowl season in 2020
Kevin Byard, Tennessee (Week 11 & Week 18)
Always underrated and under appreciated for some reason and that's a shame - he's a stud
111 tackles and seven passes defensed for the AFC South champion Titans in 2020
Marcus Maye, New York Jets (Week 12)
Overall, his game went to a different level in 2020 and it was pretty darn good before that too
88 tackles, two interceptions and 11 passes defensed for the Jets defense in 2020
**Jamal Adams, Seattle (Week 14)
The Seahawks loved him so much, they gave up two 1st rounders and more to obtain his services
9.5 sacks (!!) and 83 tackles for the Seahawks in just 12 games in 2020
Quandre Diggs, Seattle (Week 14)
Seahawks traded for him in 2019 and he's done nothing but pay dividends
Five interceptions, tied for fourth in the league, ten passes defensed in Pro Bowl season in 2020
Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers (Week 16)
One of my favorite non-Texans in the NFL, but he has to stay healthy - just five games in two years
Injured his ACL in training camp and missed the entire 2020 season.
The Houston Texans roster in photos.