As has been shown in the past, the Houston Texans do not care on how a player makes it on their roster and the team is pretty good about taking the players who really put it together during the off-season into training camp. With the incoming group, this appears to be much like other rookie groups in which the team has invested before: a group that has players who have been injured, missed their final season, had a college career with one year of good play but tested out solidly at their pro-days. The organization has been scouring every end of the earth, signing prospects from schools that most did not know that existed unless you attended that school.
With 22 free agent rookies reporting to rookie mini-camp, the Texans will have some early roster players pushing for spots on the team.
Here is a six pack of early rookies to watch for the Texans.
Shaq Hill, WR, Eastern Washington
Overshadowed by Cooper Kupp (L.A. Rams) and suffering through a knee injury which sidelined him for the 2015 season, Shaquille Hill came back strong in 2016. During his final season, Hill posted 77 receptions for 1,157 yards along with 17 touchdowns, showing that he can make defenders miss when he gets the ball in his hands. Hill has a good feel for the game and, coming from a pass heavy offense in college, he has a good feel for the type of routes he needs to run at the NFL level.
Eli Ankou, DT, UCLA (Pictured Above)
The Texans like big bodies in the trenches and try to base their entire defense off of the defensive line. The team wants to continue finding depth to plug in the middle of the defense, players who can play the nose, plus a three and five technique in their respective defensive fronts. Eli Ankou is a strong run-stopping presence and with the value the Texans place on stopping the run, Ankou might have a little more juice than most realize for his 330+ lb. frame.
Dylan Cole, ILB, Missouri State
Production is the first word to think of when it comes to Dylan Cole during his time at Missouri State. Averaging 12.9 tackles a game in 2016, Cole was a tackling machine with 141 total tackles and 8 tackles for loss from the inside linebacker position. In 2015, Cole had 152 total tackles and 457 tackle in his four-year career. Cole has a good feel for the game and with the exit of Akeem Dent and with Max Bullough suspended for the first four games of the season, Cole has everything in front of him to make his mark on the Texans for this upcoming training camp.
Dimitri Camiel, OT, Indiana
The big offensive tackle from Indiana has right tackle written all over him. He played three seasons with the Hoosiers before injury ended his final season. A back injury cut his season short in 2016 after starting at right tackle for two seasons and helping out at depth as a freshman. With the need around the NFL and in Houston at the right tackle position, Dimitric Camiel will get a good enough look to see if he can handle the NFL life. He might not be a roster player right away but with the premium for the position, the Texans will take a long look at the offensive tackle.
Dee Virgin, CB, West Alabama
The Texans continue to look for help at the cornerback position and the way the NFL plays the game now, teams just can’t have enough cornerbacks. Javaris “Dee” Virgin started his career at Tennessee-Chatanooga before transferring to West Alabama due to some off the field issues. For the Tigers, Dee Virgin picked up where he left off and had a solid senior season with 43 total tackles and 3 interceptions. More importantly, Virgin also has the ability to return kicks which gives him some added versatility. Virgin has started since his redshirt freshman year and has plenty of experience on the field. He is on the smaller side but is a physical player from the cornerback position.
Avery Williams, LB, Temple
The one thing Avery Williams will do is strike an opponent on the football field and he does it with a purpose. The next thing that the Texans need to figure out is where exactly Williams fits position-wise when he arrives to Houston. Williams played linebacker for the Owls and was a force in the run game, showing he could handle the job after a position change from running back. A strong side linebacker with three years of starting experience, Williams has the mentality that all football coaches are looking for in their players
Joe Mathis, Edge, Washington
One of the more intriguing prospects coming to Houston, but only in a tryout capacity, Washington edge player, “Jojo” Mathis was expected to be drafted. Considered an outside linebacker, Joe Mathis had a foot injury which knocked him out of the season after starting strong for the defense. A difference maker for the Huskies, their defensive pass rush went south when Mathis was done for the season after unsuccessful non-surgical options to correct his foot issue. Mathis now has to prove he can stay healthy, learn the system, and earn a contract within only three days to stick with the Texans. His pass rush ability is not the issue; his health is the concern
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