2019 Houston Texans Rookie Review: Tytus Howard Lead a Promising Class
Patrick D. Starr
Like many draft classes, the Houston Texans' class left many scratching their head on precisely what their plan was going into the draft. Many knew that the Texans needed help on the offensive line, but they showed patience and trusted their scouting process and did not reach for their top position of need, offensive tackle.
The Texans were able to put themselves in a spot that, despite the questions of their draft class, receive early returns from their group. Even more important is that there is growth ahead for their 2019 rookies.
Here is a review of the Texans 2019 draft class and what is ahead for the group.
2019 Texans Rookie Review
Tytus Howard (1.23)
The offensive tackle from Alabama State proved to be a solid addition to an offensive line looking for consistency. Teamed with Laremy Tunsil, Howard proved to be the right selection in the first round. Starting his NFL career at left guard, injury pushed Howard to right tackle, and the running game improved, and pass protection solidified.
Howard allowed two sacks and 20 pressures (pressure per 15.2 drop backs) in 303 pass attempts. His ability to hold the edge and help Deshaun Watson in the pocket was a plus until a knee injury derailed his season.
Undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus, Howard attempted to play with the injury but was shut down for the remainder of the season not to damage his knee further.
Outlook: Howard silenced critics in his first season that questioned his small-school pedigree and became an instant plus player for the offense. After he was lost for the season, his absence was felt each game with pass rushers off the edge. Howard and Tunsil have the Texans in position to have their best set of offensive tackles since Duane Brown and Eric Winston.
Lonnie Johnson, Jr. (2.54)
Another position of need that the Texans had to focus on and Lonnie Johnson, Jr. fit their profile of a press-man player with a heigh and weight advantage.
Slowly inserted into the lineup in spots, the Texans ran into a few injury issues, and Johnson had to be inserted into the lineup. More of an outside cornerback and a matchup player that Romeo Crennel would use on tight ends, Johnson struggled late in the season in coverage.
Targeted 60 times, Johnson gave up 41 receptions (68.3%) for 503 yard, 12.4 yards a reception, and nine touchdowns. One of the more significant issues for Johnson was being flagged ten times, and nine were in coverage. Johnson was called for six pass interferences, four holdings, and one illegal use of hands.
There were times where Johnson showed flashes of holding his own, but his first season had way more downs than ups.
Outlook: For a rookie, cornerback is one of the toughest transitions coming from college. Johnson is going to have to clean up his hand game and stop his penalties downfield in the passing game. All of the talent is there for Johnson, and expectations would be for him to make a considerable jump from year one to year two. There is a good chance that the Texans will not need Johnson to start in 2020 and continue to develop him as a cornerback.
Max Scharping (2.55)
The Texans doubled down in the draft, landing another offensive lineman in Max Scharping. Playing offensive tackle at Northern Illinois, the Texans knew they liked his skill set. Where exactly where he would fit was the question after working at right guard the entire preseason.
When the season rolled around, and the Texans moved Tytus Howard to the right tackle, they inserted Scharping to left guard. What should not be lost is that Scharping did not work at left guard at any point in training camp or practice but was able to pick it up in a hurry.
Scharping was a consistent player for the Texans on the interior, only allowing three sacks on 706 pass attempts. Allowing 31 total pressure in those pass attempts, Scharping was able to show he can handle the NFL game despite his rookie status.
Teamed next to Tunsil, Scharping had plenty of positives during his rookie campaign.
Outlook: Scharping might have been the Texans' best rookie of the season due to availability and performance. Just like Tytus Howard, Scharping's arrow is pointing up heading to 2020. Scharping is in position to be a key player for the offensive line moving forward.
Kahale Warring (3.86)
It was a disappointing rookie season for the tight end out of San Diego State. Kahale Warring impressed the Texans during the draft process with his upside and athletic ability.
Warring put on a show with his play during rookie mini-camp, looking like the best player on the field. He showed his catching ability and how athletic he could be as a player had many looking to him to make his mark in training camp.
His time was limited during training camp due to a lower leg injury, but then he suffered a concussion during joint practices with the Green Bay Packers. Warring was never able to come back to the roster, and the Texans opted to place him on the injured reserve heading into week one.
Outlook: Warring is going to have to hit the ground running when 2020 arrives due to missing all of the 2019 season. With Bill O'Brien's patience short with players who miss time, Warring is going to have to show his head coach that he worked all off-season to get back to the field. He is going to have to work even harder to show he can be part of the team this coming season because talent is not going to be enough.
Charles Omenihu (5.161)
The Texans took the defensive lineman of the year from the Big XII in Charles Omenihu. Citing they liked his length and versatility, Omenihu would find his way into the defensive line rotation due to being able to play the edge and inside.
Able to generate a pressure every 11.1 snaps, Omenihu proved that he could hold his own as a pass rusher. There is still work to be done in the run game for Omenihu, but that will come with more technique work as time goes on.
Omenihu's biggest play of the season came on a sack of the Chief's Patrick Mahomes, causing a fumble in the Texans week six win.
Outlook: A raw player, Omenihu, was able to generate plays on pure ability. If Omenihu wants to take the next step, he is going to have to refine his pass-rushing technique and become more of a technician in the run game. The physical ability is there, and now it is up to Omenihu to put the work in to continue to refine his game. It was a good start as a rookie for Omenihu, but there is plenty of talent there for more significant gains down the road.
Xavier Crawford (6.195)
Another cornerback the Texans took a chance on that the felt could fit the press-man mold. Crawford was drafted out of Central Michigan, and from his arrival to the Texans, he looked overmatched.
Crawford did not have enough speed and strength to play on the outside against bigger receivers and not enough quickness to play the nickel.
He did make the 53-man roster when training camp broke, but it was short-lived after being released after four games and two special teams tackles. The Texans opted to move in a different direction at the cornerback position, and Crawford was the odd man out.
The Miami Dolphins claimed Crawford, and currently, he is with the Chicago Bears.
Cullen Gillaspia (7.220)
The 12th Man from Texas A&M, Cullen Gillaspia was looked at as a special teams only type of player that would be fighting for a roster spot after being drafted. When the Texans hit the field, it was clear the organization had bigger expectations for him and were more than happy to get him that late in the draft.
Gillaspia is not only a key special team's player, but he also played offensive snaps at fullback and H-Back.
Posting five special teams tackles, Gillaspia was able to help in offensive roles when injuries hit the roster late in the season. That versatility will only help Gillaspia moving forward.
Outlook: Gillaspia made an impact on special teams, and him showing that he could help on offense will only help solidify his role on the roster. For a 7th-round selection, Gillaspia was a plus value pick for the Texans helping out in multiple spots on game day. Gillaspia just needs to continue on the path that he knows, and he will be a household name in Houston for seasons to come.
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