Protecting Deshaun Watson has been a need for the Texans since the start of his NFL career. Julién Davenport and Kendall Lamm have been mediocre at best as starting tackles. Leaving fans to conclude that GM Brian Gaine will make the tackle position a priority for the Texans come April.
Luckily, and unfortunately, the Texans will not be at the top of the draft come April 2019. This leads to them likely being unable to pick up a top tackle prospect such as Alabama standout Jonah Williams. However, there are a few prospects that fans should watch for while enjoying 2018’s college bowl games.
31 NFL teams will regret letting Justin Reid fall to the third round. Despite his pedigree (Eric Reids younger brother), great combine showing, and tape at Stanford, Reid tumbled to the defensive back needy Texans, who raced to the podium to nab an instant starter as their first pick. Instantly, this selection was viewed as a steal. That assumption became all too true when he was thrust into the starting role due to injuries in the Texans cornerback group (forced incumbent safety Kareem Jackson to play cornerback).
During the past three weeks, the Houston Texans have allowed for Deshaun Watson to be sacked a total of five times. In that same span, Watson has zero turnovers, eight touchdowns, 656 total yards, on a 66.17% completion rate. Those three games are arguably the most efficient of his career. Before, Watson had averaged 3.38 sacks and 1.38 turnovers per game, while his completion percentage remained the same at around 66 percent. Watson has gotten more acclimated to the NFL speed, but he can’t be credited for all of his improvements. Head coach Bill O’Brien and the offensive line has found ways to protect Watson.
One word to describe the Texans offensive line before their streak of newfound success would be putrid. Horrible, horrendous, terrible, non-existent, frightful, offensive, and awful would all also count. Switching rookie tackle Martinas Rankins for Kendall Lamm, while putting Julién Davenport at left tackle has been a big reason for their success. Kendall Lamm has done an excellent job at right tackle, handling Demarcus Lawrence, Calais Campbell, Cameron Wake, and Von Miller admirably. But that’s not the most significant adjustment; the use of screen passes, a rolling offensive line, extra protection, and play-action have helped masked the Texans line previous failures.
The Texans trading a fourth-round pick to the Broncos for a five-time pro-bowl receiver in Demaryius Thomas signified that they are playing to win now, rather than in the future. Pairing Thomas with DeAndre Hopkins and Keke Coutee instantly proves as an upgrade to the Texans offense that witnessed speedy receiver Will Fuller V tear his ACL against the Dolphins. While Thomas isn’t the speedster that Fuller is (and he certainly drops a good amount of passes), he offers a skillset that equates to big plays on contested catches in the red zone, middle of the field, and on deep shots. He should help Deshaun Watson as the second option in the Texans now stacked offense. In fantasy, his numbers should rise due to the Texans need for a big-bodied red zone receiver.
Through five seasons as an NFL starter, Jadeveon Clowney has faced plenty of ups and downs.
Starting off as being labeled as a bust through his first two seasons while he combatted knee injuries, to becoming one of the most intimidating and versatile players in the NFL. That development didn’t happen overnight. Through five years of hard work, Clowney went from athlete to refined pass rusher. He has added multiple moves to his arsenal (jab swipe and pull-down are my favorites) while continuously building upon his hard work.