Early 2014 Texans Rookie Class Rundown
Patrick D. Starr
The talk has been all about the Houston Texans veterans and how Head Coach Bill O'Brien is putting his mark on the franchise. Lost in the shuffle have been the rookies who have been an impressive group and the potential to be a group of instant contributors.
We look at the draftedrookies early in the process and give a quick rundown on each of them.
2014 Rookie Class Rundown
Sports hernia surgery has put the #1 overall selection on the shelf until training camp and getting him healthy is priority #1 for the team. Even with his sports hernia, there was no indication on the field that he was hampered with the injury, which is a scary thought. Learning his new position at outside linebacker, Clowney's skill set is much more at use with him in a two point stance. His speed, size (6-5, 266 lbs.) and quickness is impressive to watch for a player like him.
He should be a penciled in starter across from Whitney Mercilus when week one opens against the Washington Redskins.
Finishing up school at UCLA, Su'a-Filo returned to the team for the final three days of Mandatory Mini Camp. He has the size that the offense is looking for on their new offensive line and as soon as gets caught up with the offense he will start pushing for an offensive spot. He did his work at UCLA having a team iPad learning the offense and watching film and calling offensive line coach Paul Dunn on the phone with questions.
Su'a-Filo should be pushing for the starting left guard position and, if he hits the potential that some think, he could team with Brandon Brooks as one of the best guard tandems in the NFL.
A size and strength prospect, Fiedorowicz is a perfect example of the bigger players wanted in the Texans locker room. At 6-5 and 265 lbs., the rookie tight end has really taken to the pass catching portion of his game since arriving to rookie mini-camp. He is the one tight end with the team that is equipped to be an inline blocker and will be inserted early in the lineup to make a difference. Fiedorowicz uses his body well to shield defenders when passes are in his direction and he will only improve as time goes on.
Adding Fiedorowicz to Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin makes the position group a diverse one giving the offense plenty of versatility on how they want to attack defenses.
Louis Nix III
Slowed by knee issues in the middle of OTAs, Nix III is a well put together nose tackle and his 331 lbs. frame is solid. Nix III is a mix of a nose tackle that can hold up against the run and has enough juice inside the trenches to push the pocket in the interior. When the pads are strapped on during training camp, there will be a better feeling for what Nix III can be for the Texans, but there is no rush for the rookie with veteran Jerrell Powe in front of him.
The rookie with the most spotlight on him, Savage deserves the publicity for the most part. Arriving early to the facility and not leaving until dark, he understands that work is needed to be successful at the NFL level. With George Godsey and Bill O'Brien constantly working the quarterbacks, Savage is in good hands to get the coaching he needs to push for a starting job during his career in Houston. With a strong arm, good mobility and a quick release, it is hard not to get excited for what Savage could be. He has thrown the ball with confidence and gives glimpses of his arm strength driving the ball to receivers on the field.
Savage has everything in front of him and has to catch Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Savage can get the playbook and the mental part down on the field for the offense, watch out.
The Texans could not hit during these recent practice sessions but Prosch looks the part of an NFL fullback. There is a good chance there will be some hitting going on when he is unleashed during training camp and O'Brien has pointed out that the rookie made the team better when he was drafted. He offers some pass catching skills out of the backfield, but he will be a lead blocker and special teams contributor from day one.
Low milage for a college running back, Alfred Blue comes to the Texans with little wear and tear on his body and could be the diamond in the rough of this draft class. He runs smooth and for his 6-2 and 223 lbs. frame he catches the ball with no issues. He will get his induction into the NFL when he has to run inside the tackles but he could be a factor in the passing game as a situational piece. Seeing him in mini-camps, he had a steady progression of improving all the way up until the final day of practices.
Blue, to us, has everything needed to unseat Andre Brown as the second running back on the depth chart. It is early but more will be known as training camp starts.
Still recovering from a shoulder procedure prior to the draft, Pagan's time table to return is up in the air. Expect the rookie, when cleared, to work at defensive end but has the ability to play all three positions on the line. If he can get healthy in time, he will add another big body to a defensive line which Romeo Crennel wants beef on.
The rookie cornerback is feeling his way through but made some big strides late in Mandatory Mini-Camp and showed he can play against bigger receivers. He has some work to do but appears to have a better chance on playing on the outside of the defense. He has good hips to turn and run with wide receivers, but his biggest adjustment is coming from trusting his instincts and putting his fundamentals he is learning to the field. Over thinking might be a slight issue for Hal, but there is a big adjustment for cornerbacks coming from college.
His late surge of play on the field opened some eyes that things could be clicking for the rookie.
The safety has been learning on the run and making a big adjustment from the system he played in at Memphis. He has been learning that playing safety in the NFL is not all about coming down hill and making plays. Ballentine is understanding he has to become a better coverage player from the safety position and at 6-3 his athleticism shows in ball drills when he has to high point the ball. His long reach and imposing frame sitting in the secondary is what the Texans like about him the most, but there will be some tough work ahead for Ballentine to break ahead of some veterans in front of him.