The Houston Texans might have found a diamond in the rough, so to speak, with their selection of safety K.J. Dillon in this year’s draft. Working next to 1st rounder Karl Joseph at West Virginia, Dillon was a good compliment to the Oakland Raiders top overall pick in his college days and is looking like a great value pick given the production he has put up this preseason.
Dillon had seven tackles and another special teams tackle in preseason game number three, but the tackles in support from the secondary were the real story. His physical play is solidifying his roster spot for the opening kickoff in less than two weeks, which instills a needed infusion of youth to the safety position.
“I just like hitting people,” Dillon declared. “Once you hit somebody, they are going to be looking for you. Once you put that fear into their heart, they are not going to want to run the ball the same way, or catch the ball the same, or throw the ball the same, or whatever they are doing. Once you put fear in their hearts, it’s pretty much over.”
His hard hitting mentality has caught the eye of head coach Bill O’Brien, who liked the work the rookie put in on Sunday.
“He’s a contact player. He’s a good tackler. He loves football. He’s around the ball quite a bit. He has improved a lot,” explained O’Brien.
Dillon has been getting a feel for his position during the summer and, after the pads were put on, Dillon changed as a player. He made his mark by playing physically but he really did not cut loose until the joint practice with the New Orleans Saints, where he decleated C.J. Spiller on a run that woke up the defense.
“In the spring when you’re not wearing pads, those players don’t always stand out to you,” continued O’Brien. “But when the pads come on, sometimes certain players like a K.J., that’s the type of player he is. He’s a padded player. He’s a contact player, so I thought that there were some good tackles that he made out there today.”
When the pads were put on against the Cardinals, he was attacking the ball carriers and laying some solid licks. Dillon has been able to put himself into positions to make plays and it is due to him immersing himself into the playbook.
“I learned that getting in your playbook is the most important thing, watching the film and taking care of your body,” said Dillon. “The more you are on the field, the more they can count on you.”
The Texans will be counting on Dillon to help on special teams his rookie season and continue to develop as a safety.