By Cody Stoots

HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – J.J. Watt is the most important player on the Houston Texans. There is no debate or argument needed. In fact, labeled him the most important non-QB in the league.

On the Texans, he is still more important than quarterback Brock Osweiler. Last year, he spent time as the second most important player behind DeAndre Hopkins while the quarterback merry-go-round spun.

Now, he is the most important again. Thanks to his position and the millions of dollars he has been guaranteed,  Brock Osweiler occupies the second spot on the most important Texans list. DeAndre Hopkins has been relegated to third on the list.

1. J.J. Watt

2. Brock Oswelier

3. DeAndre Hopkins

Now, let us turn our attention to the fourth most important Texans player. Or, as I will reference during In the Loop on SportsRadio 610 10-2 M-F, the “The Fourth Most Important Texans Player Award Winner.”

The contenders for the award are as follows.

Whitney Mercilus

The Texans linebacker teamed with Watt to provide one of the most prolific sack duos in the league last year. Going forward his job will be to continue his production, and spread it out through the season. The big games are nice. They are a whole lot nicer against better teams. For Mercilus to attain the above-mentioned award he needs to prove he can week-to-week impact games like did on an irregular basis. If Jadeveon Clowney is playing on a regular basis Mercilus could have his importance argument weakened significantly.

Brian Cushing

Honestly, this consideration is on reputation alone. He was bad last year when the defense was bad, but you could argue when he turned it around so did the defense. I just don’t see how Cushing could be that important when Benardrick McKinney came on so strong late in the year. He gets a mention due to the fact he would have easily won this if he was still the player he previously was.

Johnathan Joseph

A steady veteran who played surprisingly well last year. If he was in the NFC he likely is a Pro Bowl player last year. Sneaky good for this team after a slow start. He played all the games last year and his influence and knowledge on the field won’t matched by any other defensive back and maybe even any other member of the defense. Missing Joseph would shake up the cornerback rotation messing up the Feng Shui like an ugly carpet in your living room. The counter argument is there is depth behind him should he be missing.

Nick Martin

A rookie? Yes, a rookie. The presumptive starter at center could ruin everything if he was bad or went down. The shuffling of an offensive line rarely pays off, especially without any semblance of real center depth on the roster. We often overlook the many years of steady and consistent play of Chris Myers. When Ben Jones was in trouble last year the offense sputtered to a halt. With more talent on the field the center seemingly moves down the list.

Lamar Miller

A franchise running back often finds himself high on such rankings. The issue with Lamar Miller’s case is he hasn’t been able to prove he is a franchise running back for a multitude of reasons. Without a track record, and considering Bill O’Brien’s team has succeeded in winning games without steady contributions from the ground game, it isn’t easy to pick Miller.

Duane Brown

One of the leaders on this team and the longest tenured Texans player on the roster is a question mark to begin the season after an injury ended his year last year. Left tackles, to me, are overrated in today’s game. Brown’s impact, when healthy, can’t be overstated. He often dabbles in the great territory while almost solidly being good for most seasons. He is a locker room leader and sets a tone for the offense with his sneaky nasty streak. Chris Clark is a decent backup option, but the drop off between he and Brown is fairly significant.

For me the answer is Johnathan Joseph. He was really good last year and displayed a ton of toughness playing through various ailments all year. He solidfys an oft forgotten part of the Texans defense which is the cornerback play. He is still a mentor to fellow veteran Kareem Jackson and surely imparts wisdom on Kevin Johnson and the other members of the cornerback room. As I mentioned people start switching positions if he was to go out. Impact, experience, and position make Joseph my fourth most important Texans player.

Follow Stoots on Twitter – @Cody_Stoots


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