The Houston Texans came into Day 2 needing, among other positions, an offensive tackle to compete with Derek Newton for the starting right tackle job. They did end up getting a tackle in North Carolina's Brennan Williams.
Williams is a raw talent at tackle who still needs some development. However, he looks the part, is physical and could develop into a star. Can Houston pull some magic and turn a third-rounder into a force on the offensive line?
Role and Roster Fit
The odds are against Williams starting day one against Newton. Aside from being raw, he is coming off of an injury. He had shoulder surgery, which caused him to miss the last four games of the season, though it will be healed for camp.
Despite the injury and being a bit raw, he did have 22 starts at right tackle at North Carolina, so he does know how to play the position. Granted, the rawness is a double-edged sword, since if he has played that many games, then he should be more NFL ready than he is.
As for where he fits on the roster, that is easy enough. I actually do not see the Texans throwing Derek Newton under the bus just yet. He will likely hold onto the starting job, at least for now, while Williams serves as the primary backup.
In the meantime, Williams will learn the position and develop. He has a lot of potential yet, and since he is a third-round pick, there is no need to rush him unless Newton utterly falls apart, in which case Williams even now would be an improvement.
The Texans are thin at offensive line depth, and while it would have been nice if Williams was a versatile pick who could be moved to guard, at least the team knows that he's someone who can be plugged in without much of an issue.
As noted above, he's not going to be a day-one starter. What he will do, however, is push Newton and provide some competition. There wasn't anyone behind him before, and ideally the push should make both of them better tackles.
He has the athleticism to be a good run-stopper at the next level, but he needs to work on catching the pass-rushers. Suffice to say, who better to teach him that than players like J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed rushing the edge? That will improve Williams quickly enough.
Despite the fact that I think he's a developmental prospect that the Texans could work with, I actually see him starting a few games at tackle his first year. If nothing else, it will be done so the Texans can get a good look at him.
By the end of the first season, Texans fans will know where this pick stands. If Williams is the starter at right tackle in 2014, then it worked out. If it is Newton or someone else, then Williams was unable to bring his potential to the table.
What does help Williams at the next level is that he does not have to protect the blind side. If he can work with Matt Schaub and the two get in a rhythm, then even if he does not develop into a star, he can still be a solid starter in the NFL.
Williams is a B- or C+ pick currently. It's nothing special, and offensive linemen are not exactly the easiest positions to talk fans into. It does not help that fans will not know if this pick works until two seasons from now.