March 21, 2018

Texans Roster Evaluation: Tight Ends

In this series, we look at current Houston Texans who are still on the roster and under contract. We look at their potential role with the new regime and what it could mean for the 2014 season. 

The Houston Texans tight end group has one of the longest tenured players in team history in Owen Daniels entering his last year with the team. Also, the Texans have a budding star in Ryan Griffin from the 2013 draft class, who could be the starter in the near future.


The Tight Ends

Owen Daniels

An elder statesman with the Texans, Daniels only trails Andre Johnson in years spent in Houston. A reliable target for Matt Schaub, Daniels went down with a non-displaced fibula fracture, suffered against the San Francisco 49ers, which landed him on the injured reserve. The I.R. designation was short-term but with the way the Texans’ season went, Daniels did not see the field again after week 5. Daniels was the threat in the middle of the field for the Texans and is a match up that favors the offense with him against linebackers. Before the leg injury, 24 receptions, 252 yards and 3 touchdowns are the numbers he put up.  Teamed with the offensive weapons the Texans had, it was an impressive group when healthy.

The presence of Daniels in the offense took pressure off Andre Johnson and helped Garrett Graham become a very productive #2 tight end early in the season. His injury derailed the offense and had a negative effect on Schaub, especially on how much he looked to him when nothing was open outside the numbers.



Daniels is entering his last season of his contract with the Texans, and with a cap number that could pose an issue at $6.25 million. With the majority of his guaranteed money paid out, the Texans would be saving money against the cap if they decide to part ways with him. His production has been steady for the Texans but missing 26 games since 2009 is some reason for concern. The 8 year veteran could easily be a good piece to the offense this coming season, but the NFL is a business and this could have possibly been Daniels last season in Houston.


Ryan Griffin

Ryan Griffin

Ryan Griffin

The 6th round rookie out of Connecticut is possibly a late round gem that the Texans found in the 2013 NFL draft. At 6-6 and 254 lbs., Griffin has a good enough skill set to be a starting tight end in the future and it showed this past season. Starting the season as the “trey” tight end, Griffin moved up the depth chart due to injuries to Daniels and Garrett Graham. With 19 receptions for 244 yards and 1 touchdown, he produced the majority of those numbers in the last four games of the season. He showed he can be a real threat in the passing game and can stretch the field when needed vertically in the passing game. His big frame is something the Texans have not had in Houston and he does a good job of shielding defenders with it.

Griffin still has plenty of work to do with blocking in the run game and pass protecting. His overall lack of core strength was evident when he tried to block defensive ends and linebackers when he was simply outmatched. Getting in a good off-season and improving his overall strength will be key for him to stay on the field.



He fits what O’Brien likes in tight ends, a big target that can cause issues in the middle of the field. All the arrows are pointing up with Griffin and he appears to be the starting tight end of the future for the Texans. With very little playing time early in the 2013 season, he showed he can handle what the NFL asks for with his late season production. Griffin will be one to watch for the Texans next season in the new look offense.


Brad Smelley

A late season addition by the Texans who appeared in two games when he was added in week 14. He landed on the injured reserve with a calf tear in week 17 and never really made his mark for the team. A late roster filler at tight end, he lacked what it took to stay on the field. Poor run blocking at times did not help a struggling offense late in the year.



Smelley is holding a roster spot that could easily go to a younger player or possible free agent. Smelley’s time in Houston appears to be numbered with the team looking for quality depth for the upcoming season.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.


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