Texans head coach Lovie Smith says team must get better at cornerback

(SportsRadio 610) - Texans head coach Lovie Smith did not mince words when he spoke of the team's cornerback position.

It needs improvement and there's no way around that.

According to Pro Football Focus, Houston fielded the lowest-graded secondary in the NFL by eight grading points, despite combining for the sixth-most interceptions among 32 secondaries. That's because they were bottom-five at allowing successful plays, something the Texans want to improve vastly going into 2022.

"Well, we're looking at the roster right now and you see who we have there and you also see our play at the cornerback position," Smith said. "Our play at the cornerback position last year was not good enough. It's as simple as that. If we brought somebody back, we have faith in them. We think they can fit into the mix some kind of way. But that's a position we'll continue to look to improve.

"We can't play the type of football that we want to play until we get better at the cornerback position, I will say that."

Perhaps by no coincidence, top cornerback prospect Derek Stingley Jr. was at NRG Stadium visiting the team right as Smith was making those comments to reporters.

Stingley, who won a national championship at LSU as a true freshman in 2019, and Cincinnati's Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner have both visited with the Texans. Both are potential selections at No. 3 overall, as they are less likely to be available when the Texans pick again at No. 13.

The Texans could also look to trade one of, or both picks between now and draft day April 28.

Either way, their need at cornerback is dire.

Most of their snaps at that position last year went to Desmond King (80.75 percent), who was eventually forced to play outside instead of his natural slot corner position; Terrance Mitchell (69.34 percent), who they let go in free agency; Tavierre Thomas (55.57 percent), who became the regular slot corner once King was forced to move outside; Lonnie Johnson Jr. (47.13 percent), who split time at safety after multiple position changes in his three-year career; Vernon Hargreaves III (27.79 percent), who was released by the team during the season in November; and Tremon Smith (15.59 percent), who mostly plays special teams.

The only Texans defensive back who did not produce a sub-60.0 coverage grade was Thomas, according to PFF.

Brandon Scott is the senior digital content coordinator for SportsRadio610.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandonkscott .

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