It’s no secret at all your Houston Texans desperately need pass rush help from someone not named J.J. Watt. It’s also fairly evident the front seven got worse this off- when former Houston’s fifth round pick out of Clemson, D.J. Reader, left for a bigger paycheck with the Cincinnati Bengals, signing a four-year, $53 million deal back in April.
Where does that leave the Texans’ front seven? A unit that was once the most feared in all the land is now a faint shadow of its former self.
Well, Brent Sobleski at Bleacher Report thinks rookie Jonathan Greenard is going to grab the ‘next man up’ brass ring this season.
Anthony Weaver took over for Romeo Crennel as the Houston Texans defensive coordinator this offseason. Weaver plans to employ more of an attacking scheme with built-in flexibility in how certain individuals are utilized.
The Texans are set with Whitney Mercilus at outside linebacker, and Brennan Scarlett started 10 games last season. But the Texans defensive staff has plans to utilize the franchise’s third-round pick, Jonathan Greenard, to his fullest.
“John Greenard was a guy that you could see,” Weaver told reporters. “Doing a bunch of things for us, and I think position flexibility, particularly in the defense we’re trying to institute, adds a tremendous amount of value.”
Greenard is a more fluid edge-rusher compared to Scarlett, and the rookie could usurp a starting spot as a result.
Can Anthony Weaver put Greenard in a position to take advantage of opposing blockers week in and week out? Will he employ the rook in a complementary manner to Whitney Mercilus? Or will we see another Mercilus/Jadeveon Clowney scenario where they both can’t seem to rule the gridiron at the same time?
Greenard, a native of Hiram, Georgia, was a two-sport star in high school, excelling at both basketball and football before committing to the Louisville Cardinals for college. As a redshirt freshman, Greenard racked up 22 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and a 42-yard pick-six. After injuring his wrist in his junior year, Greenard transferred to Florida as a graduate-transfer and completed his only season as a Gator with 52 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 interception.
Batted passes, scoop-and-scores, pick-sixes from the defensive line? Sounds familiar.
While Greenard certainly seems to have all the tools to take the next step and contribute to an NFL team, the current COVID-19 reality might hamper his growth with so many pandemic related obstructions arising for player development in this unprecedented offseason.
If—big IF—this was normal offseason and Greenard soaked up all there is to learn from J.J. Watt, Anthony Weaver, Whitney Mercilus, Romeo Crennel and the rest of the Texans’ defensive braintrust, this kid could become something special. If he manages to do so with all the hurdles in his way, he could be one for the ages.
Where do you think he’ll end up? Texans’ Defensive Rookie of the Year? A situational contributor who needs a year or two to incubate? A muffed draft pick? The next Mario Williams? The next Ereck Flowers?