The Houston Texans opened up the preseason with a narrow loss to the Green Bay Packers and will be facing another NFC North team on Saturday in the Detroit Lions. Here is a trio of rookies to keep an eye on.
3. OT Max Scharping
Scharping was considered by the NFL Draft community to be a plug-and-play option at right tackle, but so far that hasn’t been the case. He is currently listed as the fourth-string right tackle, and it’s not as if the players ahead of him are very good.
The Lions are not strong on the edge, so Scharping should be able to have a good outing against Detroit. There really isn’t any reason why he shouldn’t beat out Rick Leonard, David Steimetz, and Seantrel Henderson for the starting job, but it’s up to Scharping to earn that spot. But Scharping has also been practicing at guard, which may be his fit for now.
This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing at this point, even though Scharping played tackle at Northern Illinois and was also drafted as one. The Texans guards aren’t anything special either, so perhaps Scharping could find some playing time there.
2. DL Charles Omenihu
A steal in the fifth round, Omenihu is an incredibly versatile player who had a productive college career at Texas. He has a great mentor to learn from in J.J. Watt, who is also capable of moving around the line.
Houston’s defensive line depth leaves something to be desired, so Omenihu has a chance to earn himself a significant spot in the rotation. Detroit has some solid offensive lineman aside from their starters, so the game should be a good test for Omenihu. He has some very good physical traits, but is raw in the technical aspect of the game.
Fortunately, Watt is one of the NFL’s finest technicians, so Omenihu would do well to continue being the sponge to Watt’s water.
1. G Tytus Howard
A high school quarterback, Howard’s rise to the 23rd overall pick out of Alabama State has been nothing short of impressive. He has all the physical traits that teams look for in a franchise tackle, but is also extremely raw and needs plenty of development in order to be a solid option. This made Houston’s selection of Howard rather puzzling, as they are in desperate need of guys to play right now.
It’s possible that the team was planning on taking Washington State’s Andre Dillard, who was much more pro ready, until he was taken one spot ahead of the Texans by the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly had traded up ahead of Houston, which makes a panic more likely.
But now Houston has Howard, and they absolutely must figure out how to unlock his potential. He’s officially listed as the fourth-string left tackle, but has played quite a bit of guard in training camp, even when projected left tackle starter Matt Kalil has been off the field.
Much like Scharping, Howard needs all the work he can get, and if he is playing guard on Saturday, things could get very interesting. With Mike Daniels, Da’Shawn Hand, Damon Harrison, and A’Shawn Robinson, the Lions have one of the best interior defensive lines in all of football.
It’s unclear if those four guys will play, or if Howard will get to face any of them, but even if he doesn’t Howard’s progress is vital to monitor for the Texans.