HOUSTON -- There's a level of expectation among prospects making the jump from the SEC to the pros. As first-rounders, there’s even more expected.
The Houston Texans used six of their nine selections on SEC products in April's draft — two of which came in the first round. LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was the top selection at No. 3 overall, while Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green was taken at No. 15.
Both Stingley and Green mentioned at the initial press conference how playing in the SEC mentally and physically prepared them for life at the next level. New Texans offensive lineman A.J. Cann also can attest to that, especially in terms of talent seen in the trenches.
“A guy being drafted where Kenyon was, there is going to be a lot of expectations for him, but I’ve just been telling him to take it day-by-day,” Cann said Tuesday following OTA practice. “Try to get better each and every day. They are going to expect a lot of him but be who he is every day and that’s who he’s been.”
Green is expected to fill the void at left guard from the get-go in large part due to his success in College Station. Starting 35 games in three seasons, Green was a two-time All-American and has experience at four different positions on the offensive line.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio said he viewed the 6-4, 325-pound lineman "probably more of an inside player," but isn't opposed to seeing him compete for reps at tackle in a pinch. A tackle by trade coming out of Atascocita High School in Humble, Green played all but five games during his Aggie career inside.
Cann, a fellow tackle-turned-guard and SEC alum from South Carolina, characterized Green as a "humble quiet kid" who consistently is looking to learn. The hope is that he'll slide in and help take pressure off Pro Bowl tackle Laremy Tunsil on the left side while Cann steps up at right guard Week 1.
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"He’s been working hard for the past two weeks he’s been here," Cann said. "I think he’s going to be a hell of a player.”
One of the key reasons Green made sense for the Texans was his development as a run blocker. In the final two years at Texas A&M, the Aggies were one of the more physical run teams in the SEC. Isaiah Spiller, who was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth round, posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons while averaging 5.5 yards per run
Rising junior Devon Achane averaged seven yards per attempt last season, the highest among all players in the conference. Achane also pushed his way near the 1K marker, finishing with 910 yards on 130 carries.
Cann, who spent his first seven seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, already has an understanding of what new offensive line coach George Warhop looks for in his unit. One must be physical, but also has to be a willing blocker through the whistle on run plays.
"Every offensive line I’ve played with would say this, being as physical as you can in the run game," Cann said. "It’s something I look forward to.”
Green was considered one of two guard prospects with a consensus first round grade by scouts. Boston College's Zion Johnson was better known for his win rate in pass protection, thus making the selection of Green a more logical option for Warhop's line.
The Texans return for the second stage of OTAs starting June 1.