One of the cooler things about new Houston Texans offensive tackle Brennan Williams, a third round pick, is that he was named to the 2012 All-Atlantic Coast Conference team as an honorable mention despite missing the last month of the season. Another cool thing? His dad, Brent, played in the NFL for 11 seasons. To have someone close that stuck around in the pros for that long and can offer advice and perspective is a big plus for Brennan. Bloodlines are always a plus, to me, when it comes to evaluating a prospect.
As BFD said immediately after the selection, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the right side of the offensive line wasn't stellar last season. The Williams pick continues to make sense when you consider that starting right tackle Derek Newton is coming off patellar tendon surgery and Houston has no idea when to expect him back. Thus, for the moment, it'll be Williams versus Ryan Harris for the starting right tackle position when we get into camp season.
There are a couple of first glance positives for Brennan Williams. For starters, Williams comes from North Carolina, like back-up quarterback T.J. Yates, and is used to some of the concepts of the Texans offense, as was noted multiple times when Yates was drafted. The familiarity should help quicken his learning curve. Additionally, Williams also looks the part of a big, athletic tackle at 6-foot-6 inches and 318 pounds. Unlike some past Houston offensive line rookies, getting into shape shouldn't be a problem for Williams.
Read any draft scouting report and you'll see that all praise Williams for his short area quickness, ability to engage blockers and finish, and being an overall plus in the run blocking game. Seeing as Houston butters their bread by handing off to Arian Foster, Williams looks to fit right in schematically to what Houston wants to do. The issue, however, is his pass blocking. Let's watch some tape, shall we?
Brennan Williams vs Virginia Tech (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
All those same linked reports and the game footage match up. While Williams has a nice first punch, his footwork is poor and he looks uncomfortable in pass protection. It's streets behind his run blocking where he is physical and doesn't stop blocking. Pass blocking, however, he is a step slow off the snap, chops his feet way too much, and doesn't anchor himself to take blocks. He is on his heels and gets pushed around more often than not. It's not a garbage job, but a pro defensive end/linebacker could get some serious heat on Matt Schaub. Good blocking starts with the feet and Williams has half of that, the run half, down. The great thing is that you can work on, train, and improve footwork.
Offensive line coach John Benton is one of the best in the business and has been working with Houston linemen for seven seasons. He's the guy who has been helping develop guys like Duane Brown, Mike Brisiel, Eric Winston, Chris Myers, Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones, and Rashad Butler. If there's anyone who can help Williams tap into his potential, it's John Benton. I imagine Benton, especially in rookie camp and mini-camp will pay extra attention to his latest project.
Whether Benton and Williams can work quickly enough to make an impact for 2013 remains to be seen. Depending on when Newton returns, I can see head coach Gary Kubiak utilizing that rotating scheme where Williams and Harris share snaps all game, unless one is having a great game. Still, there's a lot of potential in Williams and, if not in 2013, he could be in the long-term plans for 2015 when Derek Newton's contract expires. All he needs to do is work on improving his footwork issues and pass-blocking awareness. If he does that then Houston should hit upon another mid-round offensive lineman.
In case you missed these great reads this weekend
Battle Red Blog on the 2013 Houston Texans Rookies: Film Room: Breaking Down First Round Pick DeAndre Hopkins | Looking At New Texans Safety D.J. Swearinger
From Around The Network: Shakin' The Southland (Clemson) on DeAndre Hopkins | Garnet & Black Attack (South Carolina) on D.J. Swearinger | Hustle Belt (Mid-American Conference a.k.a. #MACtion) on Chris Jones