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2020 NFL Draft: Houston Texans Select Ross Blacklock With 40th Overall Pick

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The Texans added a defensive tackle.

TCU v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Houston Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for David Johnson and pick #40. Well, here come the rewards of pick #40. The Texans selected Ross Blacklock (DT—TCU).

This is what I wrote about Blacklock entering the 2020 NFL Draft:

His pad level is the single best trait of any interior defensive lineman in this class. He’s an ant that plays low to the earth. At 6’3” and 290 lbs., he always plays with a low center of gravity while keeping his eyes up. He is an uncharacteristically great interior run defender. Blacklock is constantly swaying above the ground, splitting double teams, and lurching into the backfield. Even when he’s unable to get between the two, his pad level creates stalemates, giving his linebackers the chance to chase and tackle.

Against individual blocks, Blacklock has the quickness to beat offensive linemen off the ball even though they have the arcane and mysterious knowledge of the snap count. Blacklock also understands how to play the angles. He’s usually on the inside or outside half of the blocker; he rarely plays the entirety of those players larger than he is.

His pass rushing acumen is bizarre. It’s all about pad level here, too. He uses long arms and leverage to get under, extend, and drive back players who outweigh him. He isn’t at his best in one-on-one situations. He’s much better as a looper when he can play the jouster and trot from gap to gap. His outstretched arm is a lance impaling guards off their horse.

Along these paths, Blocklock’s hands are active. He doesn’t allow offensive linemen to stick to him. He can float from the ‘A’ to the ‘C’ gap like Gallimore and use his hands to get off the block and impact the throw.

The extrapolation here is difficult. What do you do with an undersized interior defender who didn’t measure well at Combine jumping tests that measure explosiveness or the shuttle and cone running that measure lateral quickness? What do you do with someone who isn’t particularly strong but is able to play strong because of pad level and leverage? I don’t know how these skills will be used in the professional game, but Blacklock does understand the position well enough. He’s great enough at a centerpiece of the position to warrant a Day Two selection.

Blacklock is a fine player. He’s a unique one. His pad level should give him the ability to be a good one gap run stopper, and he has the stunting ability to be an interesting component of Houston’s pass rush, especially with the departure of D.J. Reader.

Houston will pick again in the third round at #90.