Houston Texans 2013 Breakout Player Projections

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Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed (58) runs on the field against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans just can’t quite get over the hump. What is it going to take? After losing to New England in the second round of the playoffs, Houston went back to the drawing board and identified its top two weaknesses: safety and a competent target beside Andre Johnson.

It’s hard to argue with that, and the Texans went out and got their big fish in free agency when they signed future Hall of Fame safety and Super Bowl champion Ed Reed to be the leader of their defense. After the Texans pried Reed away from the Baltimore Ravens, they went out and used their first round draft pick on wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, one of the most electrifying playmakers in college football in the 2012 season. Hopkins should be an immediate upgrade as the #2 receiver along with Andre Johnson, but is it too late?

Houston has an enviable roster compared to most of the league, and they should be right in the mix to win the AFC South again in 2013. With the recent emergence of Andrew Luck and the Colts, Houston is going to have to step it up a little bit. Here are three players–one from each of the last three draft classes–that could wind up having breakout seasons in 2013.

Third Year — Brooks Reed, LB

After a rookie season where he played in all 16 games and had 45 tackles and six sacks, Brooks Reed took a bit of a dip as a sophomore. The former second round pick played in just 12 games, racking up only 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks. The Texans weren’t overly settled with their OLB situation, so they drafted Trevardo Williams and Sam Montgomery in 2013, but Reed has the inside to a starting job.

One thing that needs to happen is Reed has to stay healthy. If he isn’t on the field as much as possible, the Texans have some talented young players to step in and make plays. This is an important window for the former Arizona product. The Texans have given him reps at inside linebacker, the spot next to Brian Cushing that has yet to be filled since DeMeco Ryans was traded.

If Reed can get himself a bit more comfortable in the Houston defense, which he should, I think he could be in line for a big year in 2013. With J.J. Watt commanding most of the attention, I think Reed has a chance to be really good.

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