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Texans Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

By DEEPI SIDHU, SportsRadio 610
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(credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) - John McClain’s latest NFL mock draft has the Texans taking an offensive tackle in the first round with the 27th overall pick.  Not the sexiest pick, but the Texans usually forgo sexiness for practicality in the first round.  With the departure of cap casualty Eric Winston after the 2011 season and the recent patellar tendon surgery of current right tackle Derek Newton, the Texans may look to fill the spot with a brand new, shiny, first-round pick.  This year’s NFL draft has an elite class of offensive tackles with three possibly going in the top ten: Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Lane Johnson (Oklahoma), and Eric Fisher (Central Michigan).  Should practicality win out for the Texans once again, here is a look at some names the Texans could be considering for right tackle:

Menelik Watson, Florida State, 6-5, 315 pounds
John McClain’s pick for offensive tackle is often compared to Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens and boxer Lennox Lewis.  Watson was born in Manchester, England and is relatively new to the position and the sport.  Watson played NCAA football for only the 2012 season at Florida State, forgoing his previous sports of basketball and boxing.  He is a lean and productive tackle who is effective at zone blocking, which would make him an ideal fit for the Texans.  His pure athleticism and speed are his assets but his lack of football experience may be why Watson remains on the board for the Texans’ pick.

D.J. Fluker, Alabama, 6-6, 335 pounds
Fluker’s speed is may be underwhelming (he ran the 40 in 5.31 seconds), but his size is his asset.  Once weighing 400 pounds in eighth grade, Fluker is a formidable wall that could effectively protect Matt Schaub against opponents.  Fluker was an All-American high school player selected for the Freshman All-SEC team.  He blocked for NFL running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson while they played at Alabama. He started all 27 games in Alabama’s two BCS championships.

After The First Round?
No need to panic should the Texans decide to fill another need on their roster in the first round.  If the Texans take a chance to snag a right tackle in later rounds, the draft pool is still deep.

Reid Fragel, Ohio State, 6-8, 308 pounds
Fragel switched to playing tackle his senior at Ohio State after the Buckeyes lost two starters at the position in 2011.  He was originally a tight end, used mostly for blocking before he made the switch.  Fragel added weight to his frame and was a starting right tackle for all 12 games his senior year.  His newness at the position may be a drawback but his upside is huge.  The transition from tight end to tackle was relatively easy since Fragel’s strength was going after defensive ends and run blocking for a team that lacked a passing offense.  Sound familiar?  He has also been compared to Eric Winston.

Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6-5, 320 pounds
Armstead had a spectacular outing at this year’s combine, surprising many with his 40-yard dash time.  Clocking in at 4.71 seconds, the track and field athlete was the fastest of all offensive lineman.  His speed and agility won over the NFL scouts, keeping his stock high.  The bad news?  He may not last as far as the Texans’ second round pick.

Brennan Williams, North Carolina, 6-6, 318 pounds
Williams earned all-conference honors and hails from a football family.  His father Brent played eleven years in the NFL as a defensive end for New England, Seattle, and the New York Jets.  Williams had a limited showing at the combine due to surgery for a torn labrum which typically requires anywhere from two to six months’ recovery time.  His injury may keep him from going too high in the draft, but his speed and athleticism definitely has gotten him notice.  Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com thinks Williams might be a good value pick for the Texans.

“Another guy that’s in that third, fourth round that’s kind of interesting is North Carolina tackle Brennan Williams, who’s very athletic. He’s got some things that people really like about him on the field. Off the field, this is one of the unique stories that you hear about players. He paints his fingernails, which you don’t really hear often about offensive tackles, and he’s into I believe it’s called live-action role play… It’s definitely not something you see in a scouting report every day.”

Will History Repeat Itself?
While mock drafts are surfacing at the speed of light, the general consensus is that Houston will take a wide receiver in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.  But as history has shown, the Texans rarely draft the way fans and critics expect.  The Texans have picked a first-round defensive player for nine of twelve drafts in their franchise history.  The last offensive player taken in the first round was left tackle Duane Brown in 2008. Could the Texans take an offensive tackle first in this year’s draft?

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