Texans' overlooked need: Nose tackle

Houston needs help on the right side of the offensive line. It needs another dynamic receiver. It needs depth at outside linebacker. It needs a corner, particularly if it doesn’t think second-year man Brandon Harris can replace departed veteran Jason Allen.

In 2011, in the first year of a 3-4 front under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Texans did just fine with the nose tackles they had -- Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell. Phillips predicted that.

But if you’re looking for a spot in the returning defensive lineup that can be upgraded, it’s Kareem Jackson’s cornerback spot (where the team is fiercely dedicated to the No. 20 pick from 2010) and its nose tackle, where the Cody-Mitchell tandem is not regarded as the strongest possible.

They combined to play just two-thirds of the team’s snaps (38.19 percent for Mitchell, 28.22 for Mitchell), with Antonio Smith kicking inside in the nickel package. Cody and Mitchell are asked to stuff the run and force more than one blocker to get at least a hand on them.

Even so, the Texans are allowed to get more than 50 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two sacks from their two primary nose tackles. Which is why they should draft one if they can.