In this most unusual of seasons, performance in training camp practices will be paramount for rookies trying to show their teams made the right call in drafting them. For the five drafted rookies of the Texans, they are perhaps under the biggest microscope, as they represent the best hopes for improvements in key positions/depth for a squad with Super Bowl aspirations. With training camp a couple of weeks old, this has allowed time for people to evaluate how our newest draftees are performing.
One such concise evaluation comes from The Athletic, courtesy of their Texans beat writer, Aaron Reiss. In a recent article [note: it is a pay site], Reiss offered insight into how the five draft picks are performing. In some cases, they are providing causes for optimism, and for other cases, some reason for pause.
DL Ross Blacklock:
Based on how frequently he rotates onto the field during practice, the defensive lineman out of TCU figures to receive the most immediate playing time of all the rookies. That’s not much of a surprise, considering Blacklock was considered a fringe first-round talent during the pre-draft process and joins an interior defensive line that was sorely lacking in pass rush ability…
Most practices, he seems to make at least one play in the backfield. On Saturday, he stuffed the run on one snap and collapsed the pocket on the next, forcing backup quarterback A.J. McCarron to scramble.
Edge Jonathan Greenard:
Greenard hasn’t stood out as a pass rusher, but he shows off his motor by not easing up during a live 11-on-11 rep, even while some rushers do after a few seconds because of the speed of a practice.
Weaver has highlighted the 6-4, 263-pound edge defender’s physicality, especially when it comes to setting the edge against the run, which is arguably Greenard’s best skill right now. In that way, Weaver said, Greenard is like the strong side edge rusher who currently sits ahead of him on the depth chart: fifth-year pro Brennan Scarlett…
What should you expect from Greenard in the meantime? Probably not a lot as a rookie. The team returns its primary group of edge defenders from a season ago and is looking to find more snaps for rotational pass rusher Jacob Martin.
OT Charlie Heck:
Of all the draft picks, Heck appears to have the most work to do. At both tackle spots, the 6-foot-8 Heck has struggled to anchor his outside foot and widen a rusher’s path to the quarterback. Instead, pass rushers have occasionally just sped past him. It’s impossible to say for certain that it was Heck’s fault without knowing the assignments, but on Tuesday it appeared Jacob Martin blew by him almost untouched on one rep.
CB John Reid:
O’Brien told a pool reporter after Tuesday’s practice that Reid, a 24-year-old slot corner out of Penn State, ‘might’ve had the best camp of any rookie.’ [NOTE: This has been reported by multiple sources].
That’s not to say everything’s been perfect for the former data sciences student and video game development intern. In one drive on Tuesday, backup receiver DeAndre Carter caught three passes against Reid, including a touchdown in a goal-to-go situation. But seemingly everyday, Reid does something to earn praise from a coach, whether it’s breaking up a pass or performing well on punt coverage.
Reid might not see a lot of playing time early on this season, but it’s easy to imagine him eventually overtaking Vernon Hargreaves on the depth chart at slot corner.
WR Isaiah Coulter:
The rookie receiver has been in and out of practices, but when he’s participated, his 4.4 speed and fluidity have been what stood out. He’s still an unpolished route runner, but that’s to be expected for a first-year player out of Rhode Island, which hadn’t produced an NFL draftee before Coulter in more than three decades. The competition he faces at the pro level is much more capable of keeping up with him, so he’ll see a lot more press coverage against corners who might be stronger than the ones he’s used to…
Granted, this is one source. Still, it jibes with what others are hearing/reporting from Texans camp. Encouraging news for the most part, especially for Blacklock and Reid. A bit concerning about Heck, for while only a fourth rounder, we did make some moves in the draft to get him. There is plenty of time for all of these fine gents to make their marks.
What say you? Encouraged? Discouraged? None of the above? All the above? Let your thoughts be heard.