Help from within, help externally, and help from rookies are all options for the Texans to get better on the offensive line in 2019.
Speaking at the Combine Thursday with the media, general manager Brian Gaine was asked about improving up front, and he detailed some of the options for the Texans to get better. The Draft, which begins April 25, is one obvious way. Houston owns the 23rd, 54th and 55th overall picks, and Gaine said offensive tackles abound.
"It’s a good year in the Draft for tackle," Gaine said. "Both left and right side. At various points in the Draft, from starting caliber players to backup players."
On March 13, free agency begins, and Gaine said the Texans can be "selectively aggressive", although the options for tackle help aren't as bountiful.
"Free agency is a little bit different," Gaine said. "Maybe it’s not as deep, as it relates to the tackle market."
The second-year general manager pointed out that help internally, in the form of improvement and good health, could speed up the Texans' process for protecting Deshaun Watson better in 2019.
"Julién Davenport’s entering year three of his career and we’re hoping for an even better dividend," Gaine said of the starting left tackle. "More growth. More potential here."
In free agency last March, Gaine and the Texans added starting guards in Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton, and a starting right tackle in Seantrel Henderson.
"Unfortunately last year Seantrel Henderson got injured," Gaine said. "He was going to be our starting right tackle. We re-signed Seantrel, so we’re optimistic he’ll be our starting right tackle this year."
Gaine and company used a third round pick last April on offensive lineman Martinas Rankin. As a rookie, he made some starts at left tackle, and also filled in at guard. The Mississippi State product played all along the line in college, and could still do so as a professional.
"I wouldn’t even be surprised if you gave him the ball and he could snap it and be a center," Gaine said. "We love the value of versatility. Now, he was a starting left tackle in the SEC. Played at both left tackle for us this year and guard. I think he could be a two-hole guy. He could be either-or. And be a Top five who will start. He’s going to get a great opportunity this year to compete for a starting position."
Gaine and the Texans are in Indianapolis through the early part of next week.
Check out shots of current Texans players from previous NFL combines. (Photos via AP Images)