Martinas Rankin was the only offensive lineman the Houston Texans selected in the 2018 NFL Draft after a busy free agency period in which the team attempted to address the several deficiencies in that position group. Although it has not been publicly declared what position at which the Texans planned to play Rankin, many projected the 6’5”, 310 lb. rookie lineman to make an immediate impact.
That impact is much, much less likely to materialize in 2018 now. Unfortunately, Rankin suffered a foot injury in rookie minicamp that required surgery.
OT Martinas Rankin, #Texans 3rd-round pick, who suffered a foot injury in rookie minicamp, recently underwent surgery and is expected to be ready for the regular season.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 12, 2018
Rankin’s versatility across the offensive line at Mississippi State was a key attribute Bill O’Brien and Brian Gaine have mentioned lusting for in their revamp of the offensive line. Houston’s game plan for addressing the team’s glaring holes there was to acquire as many big, talented, and versatile linemen as possible, presumably with the notion of lining up the best five linemen against the Patriots on September 9th.
Injuries are not just a physical issue; they curtail the learning process, especially in young players, because the player misses the on-field application of everything learned in the playbook and film room. In two separate tweets, however, John McClain echoed the team and head coach’s high expectation for Rankin this season.
Texans are happy with progress rookie OT Martinas Rankin is making after undergoing recent surgery on his foot, an injury suffered in the rookie minicamp. He’s expected to be ready for the start of the season.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) June 12, 2018
Bill O’Brien said after the first day of minicamp he’s got high hopes for OT Martinas Rankin, a third round pick who’s recovering from foot surgery.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) June 12, 2018
If the offensive line is going to feature four new starters (as O’Brien has suggested), it would be ideal if the Texans could come into the regular season and be comfortable blocking as a unit. Continuity across the offensive line is crucial to better blocking, and Rankin’s injury already threatens that.
The Texans may have erred in not targeting guys like Nate Solder and Andrew Norwell in free agency, but they’ll make it work with what they have. With all the weapons the Texans have on offense, opposing defenses should still be wary of overcommitting to pressuring Deshaun Watson.
As of today, I predict a Julien Davenport-Senio Kelemete-Nick Martin-Zach Fulton-Seantrel Henderson starting offensive line when the Texans take the field Week 1 against the Patriots. Hopefully Rankin can rotate in and become a steady contributor, if not a starter, as the season progresses.
Are you worried about Martinas Rankin’s injury? Does it change your outlook for the Texans this year?