HOUSTON -- Offensive line has been a concern for the Houston Texans for the past five seasons. Since the arrival of Deshaun Watson, Houston has allowed at least 49 sacks or more each season.
The good news for the Texans? Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is still in Houston for the foreseeable future.
The franchise blindside protector returns to NRG Stadium as the one constant on the offensive line. Entering the season, he'll be instrumental in the hopeful rebuilding under center with Watson's time in Houston likely finish.
According to CBS Sports, Tunsil will enter the season as the sixth-best offensive tackle come Week 1.
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Houston doesn't have a ton to hang its hat on as of late, but Tunsil is one player the Texans can look at as a building block. Yes, the club gave up a king's ransom to acquire him, but he's still one of the better blindside tackles that the league has to offer, particularly in pass-blocking sets. In that regard, he's still among the very best in the NFL at protecting the quarterback when he drops back to pass, which is particularly difficult in a Texans offense that has signal-callers moving around quite a bit off play-action and bootlegs. If he were to elevate his run-blocking ability a tick, we're talking about a top five, maybe even top three player on this list. While Houston may not be playing for an AFC South title anytime soon, that doesn't take away from Tunsil being among the very best at his position.
Overall, just missing out on the top-five isn't that demeaning when looking at the list. Baltimore's Ronnie Stanley, New Orleans' Terron Armstead, New Orleans' Ryan Ramczyk, San Francisco's Trent Williams and Green Bay's David Bakhtiari all finish ahead.
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All five players graded higher in run blocking, with three of the four grading high in pass protection than Tunsil.
Tunsil finished last season allowing just two sacks and being penalized six times. During his first season with the Texans, he led the NFL with 18 penalties and allowing just three sacks.
In both seasons with Houston, Tunsil has made the Pro Bowl.
The Texans are coming off a 4-12 season in which they did not own a first or second-round pick. Without Watson, Houston is expected to trust the run game, an area where Tunsil was average amongst NFL tackles.
Houston will need its offensive line to raise its awareness for both Tyrod Taylor and potential new face of the team Davis Mills. First-year head coach David Culley will have to decide with four different players when it comes to stabilizing the trenches.
Tunsil though will be back as the face of the front line for 2021 and beyond.
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