During the NFL season, I’ll slowly accumulate a list of things I want to write about once the season comes to an end and I’m not wrapped up watching actual football. Hypotheses that need to be fully fleshed out. Why “plays while leading” is a better stat than “time of possession:, and how it can be another indicator of a team’s ‘luck’. Creating weights for those pesky high variance stats and determine a single figure to rank each team from black cat to rabbit foot. Joe Flacco’s 2012 playoff run. The Tennessee Titans as a case study for why red zone stats vary year to year.
I didn’t choose to do this. I didn’t want to do this. But then free agency happened. I was riled up about everyone saying Andrew Norwell was great without knowing if Norwell was great; he ended up being great. I had to get to the bottom of Nate Solder and see if he was worth smashing that pink nickel ridden glutton for; he’s mediocre, and no, he wasn’t worth it. I had to let the world know that Cameron Fleming was more than worth the contract he signed and was a good buy-low option. I needed to watch the offensive linemen Houston signed and determine if they are good or not. Zach Fulton is, Senio Kelemete is strong yet inconsistent, and Seantrel Henderson is messier than the last track on Joyce Manor’s Cody. I ended up spending all this time watching and writing about offensive line play.
So it reached it’s logical conclusion. Houston’s offensive line looks pretty set, except for one position, right tackle. With three third round picks and the possibility to move up in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Texans should and are going to take a tackle when the draft pops off this weekend. I’m tired. I just want to go home. I want to do other things. To finish this journey, I watched the offensive tackles available in the draft.
I found Mike McGlinchey to be close, but not all the way there. He’s enormous, but doesn’t play enormous. Susceptible to the bull rush, providing a weak punch in the pass game, and driving out defenders in one on one blocks weren’t there. He could drive with this lower half in the run game, but he couldn’t use it in the pass game. He could punch in the pass game, but couldn’t in the run game. There are times when he simply doesn’t play the snap. There’s a lot of good here and a lot of natural talent, but he’s not a slam dunk starting offensive tackle. If he’s selected early, it will be because of need.
Brian O’Neil is purely a left tackle and purely a pass blocker. He could probably come in and pass protect for a team Week One. His leap out of his stance is fantastic; it’s Joe Thomasish. Legitimate strength concerns and being bad at the rest of offensive line play will see his stock drop.
Kolton Miller’s career will depend on his hands. He has the upper body strength but doesn’t know how to use them. He doesn’t stick anyone. He misses the chest. He loses defenders on the first level too often. He can lose the defender during his first two steps at times and would love the behind view to better see it. I do love his aggression. His feet are quick. He has a good anchor. When his hands are there, he overwhelms players. Sometimes players never learn how to utilize their hands, though. See Xavier Su’a-Filo.
Orlando Brown’s best aspect is his big, old, water bed belly. He’s an enormous man. His size and frame form a voluptuous circle that could be ironed out into a capable player. He stuns people with his punch and moves and blocks the second level well despite having creaky hips. He has problems adjusting to quick movements, stunts, and blitzes. Additionally, Brown was terrible at the NFL Combine, and he got lazy during games. He would string together blown blocks and dismantle drives on his own. He’s worth a shot as a late round pick. But you have to question if he’s a football guy.
I found Geron Christian to be whatever. Tyrell Crosby and Jamaro Jones would be solid options. Connor Williams is underrated. The rest weren’t worth spilling words over yet. However, during this time, I didn’t love watching any of these players. It was a slog. It was a drag.
And then I watched Martinas Rankin play football.
I loved his base, wide and strong. He was the first left tackle I saw that actually enjoyed run blocking, unlike the rest of these guys. He had good extension on the punch. He drove defenders off the line of scrimmage. He moved surprisingly well in space and is a surprisingly good cut blocker. He has the ability to get to the outside shoulder on double teams. He’s strong. The one problem I saw were the occasional plays where his hands miss. Overall, he was big, strong, moved naturally like an offensive lineman should, and was the rare player who could pass and run block.
When the Texans quench fears of a Davenport-Allen-Henderson training camp battle this weekend and I crawl back into the world, dirty and hopeful, pulled by the fleeting chariots of motivation, I’ll want one name to be added to this trio of the Texans linemen. Martinas Rankin. The rest can shove it. He’s my guy.
I’m going to be so pissed when the Texans draft a guard instead.