Originally written on State of the Texans  |  Last updated 10/17/14
Brian Cushing The off-season is fast approaching. The draft board and the free agent targets are being set for the Houston Texans. It looks like the consensus feels that the Texans will be headed for offensive help especially with the wide receiver and offensive line. Only time will tell, but the offense seems to be the one side of the ball that needs fewer pieces to upgrade it. If you look at the Texans defense, it needs the most retooling heading into the 2013 season, especially with Connor Barwin, Brice McCain and Glover Quin looking like they will be headed to the open market. The Texans are on the verge of losing five players who see significant playing time, plus Shaun Cody and Bradie James, but all are going to be spots that will be needed to be filled. Also throw in players like Quintin Demps, Tim Dobbins and Alan Ball the defense is going to need to really look at what they need to do to make sure they do not take a step back as a unit. Having the likes of J.J. Watt, Johnathan Joseph and hopefully a healthy Brian Cushing will help, but there is reason for concern for this defense. Take a look at the current depth chart going into the 2013 season.   Nose Tackles: Earl Mitchell, ???? Defensive Ends: J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, Tim Jamison, Jared Crick Outside Linebackers: Whitney Mercilus, Brooks Reed, Bryan Braman , ???? Inside Linebackers: Brian Cushing, Darryl Sharpton, ????, ????, ???? Cornerbacks: Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Brandon Harris, Roc Carmichael, ???? Safeties: Danieal Manning, Shiloh Keo, ????, ????   Spots on the defensive roster but unproven  David Hunter, Defensive End Sonny Harris, Nose Tackle Eddie Pleasant, Safety DeLano Johnson, Outside Linebacker Cameron Collins, Inside Linebacker Keith Browner, Defensive End Mike Mohamed, Inside Linebacker   Looking at the defense there are at least EIGHT roster spots that need to be filled for the 2013 season. As much as fans want to see offensive weapons added, it would not be a surprise if the Texans once again look to fill some big needs in the draft to help the defense. Free agency will bring in some low-grade veterans to help fill the roster, but there are some serious issues with the depth on defense. The Texans front office and General Manager Rick Smith are going to have to make some calculated moves to keep this defense up with the success they have had the past two seasons. Nose tackle, inside linebacker and safety are the biggest needs for the team (not in that order) in 2013 and beyond. Add it the need for another outside linebacker to help Reed and Mercilus with the defensive snaps, the Texans need list is growing as we speak. It is hard to say exactly where the Texans will look to find help on the defensive side of the ball, but finding players that can contribute is the key to keep this defense tops in the league.   You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.    

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