Duane Brown: The Texans' New Heavy Hauler

If offensive linemen are the diesel-burning big rigs of the gridiron, then Alex Gibbs is the master mechanic. Like any good craftsman, he knows exactly what it takes to get the gears turning and the wheels rolling. That’s why when Alex Gibbs said the fleet needed an overhaul, the front office went out and got him a custom ordered, maroon and orange semi, with a die-hard engine and speed to burn. Duane Brown was brought in with the Texans’ first pick of the 2008 NFL draft (26th overall). At 6’5", 310 lbs, he is a built like a Mack Truck without the trailer. It was his size and speed that made him highly coveted by the Texans coaching staff. In a quote pulled from Nick Scurfield’s Texans.com article head coach Gary Kubiak said:

"We have really been in love with this kid for a long time, he fits what we want to do. He is very athletic, which we want guys to get to the second level and do some cutting and those types of things. We think he is only on the rise. This kid is going to get better and better."

While many draftniks thought that taking Brown in the first was a big reach, the Texans' war room generals had a plan. They knew they had to bring in a lineman who could handle the zone-blocking scheme and they needed more picks. By swapping slots with Baltimore and acquiring two extra picks, they were able to satisfy both needs in one fell swoop.

So what’s so special about Duane Brown? For starters, he, like Eric Winston, is a converted tight end. According to Virginia Tech’s 2007 media guide, he was moved from tight end to right tackle a mere two weeks before the start of the 2005 season and was named the opening day starter. In his first game at right tackle he faced none other than Mario Williams. At his post-draft press conference, Duane was asked to comment about his encounter with Williams.

"I remember that night like it was yesterday. I was two weeks into the position; it was the opener and a night game at NC State. (Mario Williams) is a very intimidating figure. I held my own that night and it was the beginning of my transition. Being able to go against him in practice, he is one of the best defensive ends in the league. I think practicing against him will be great for me and will help me."

He started at right tackle for two full seasons before moving over to left tackle in his senior year. In those three years, Brown racked up 42 consecutive starts.

In his senior season, Brown boasted an outstanding 89% blocking consistency average. By comparison, the overall first pick in the 2008 NFL draft, Jake Long, had an 88% blocking consistency rating in his final year at Michigan.

 

That ability to ward off defenders earned Brown 2nd Team All-ACC honors for his junior and senior seasons. He also won back-to-back Richmond Touchdown Club Offensive Lineman of the year awards. Probably the most telling were the awards he was given in-house. He earned the President’s Award as the most outstanding leader on offense to start the 2007. He was also elected a weight room captain.

"In the weight room, I was a captain at Virginia Tech. I motivated guys in the weight room to try to get bigger, stronger and faster. I motivated them out on the practice field, when it’s hot outside and people are getting down, I try to pick the tempo up. Just overall, I just try to motivate and do what I have to, to get better myself."

You know he’s going to experience his fair share of hot days in the sweltering heat of the Bayou City. Its good to know we have someone who is willing to work, no matter what the conditions.

His athleticism goes beyond his 5.0 forty-yard dash (4.91 at his pro day). As a member of the special teams unit, he used his 28 vertical to block three kicks. He also caught three passes and scored a touchdown his freshman year. Going forward, his speed should allow him to get to the point of attack quickly, and his size should keep the defenders from sealing the hole.

There isn’t a lot of video on Duane Brown, because basically, LT is not the sexiest position to film. He’s not one of those guys who came out of high school as the next big thing at the tackle position, so he’s been flying under the radar the past few years. Make no mistake--he's one talented football player. Regarded as the most athletic on the Virginia Tech roster, he has the character and work ethic to get the job done. I can’t wait to see what kind of numbers this rig can pull once Alex Gibbs is done overhauling the engine.

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