With the Houston Texans making some tough decisions, the NFL waits for nobody and the Texans are adjusting on the fly. After a magical 2011 season which brought the franchise’s first division title, playoff appearance and win, the Texans appeared ready for a big 2012 season with a deep roster. With the cap issues that hit the Texans, a once deep roster has to fill the voids left by players who left for other teams via free agency.
One player that might be lost in all of this offensive line shuffle may be 2010 rookie Derek Newton, who was forced into action after Rashad Butler’s injury that sidelined him for the season. Newton, 6’6″ and 307 lbs., provided some needed depth at the tackle position for the Texans in a time of need in 2010. He was a key piece on short yardage situations for the Texans this past season and showed he can do some serious run blocking. He really showed it late in the season.
Newton was drafted by the Texans out of Arkansas State in the 7th round (214th overall) and was projected to be a developmental player for the Texans. His draft report said this about him:
Pick Analysis: Newton has enough strength, size potential and toughness to potentially find a home as a backup right tackle or guard at the next level. However, he does have the feet or athleticism to become a starter or remain at left tackle. Already shows good leg drive and some natural power in the running game and could become even more productive if he can play lower and put on some more weight. While he has good straight-lined speed, does not possess the lateral agility or body control to hold up on the edge in pass protection. Newton is a potential Day 3 selection.
Taken from NFL.Com after the Texans selected him
With that, the Texans found great value with Newton in the 7th round and he appeared in 14 games for the team during the 2010 season. Word out of Reliant is that the coaching staff is high on Newton and what he can do for the Texans for the upcoming seasons. He could be the so-called “X factor” coming into the new season and, being a relative no name, don’t count out Newton pushing for some real snaps during camp time. He has plenty of room to grow and at only 24 years old the Texans and Gary Kubiak have shown they can develop offensive lineman at the NFL level. With Newton’s skill set and athletic ability, the Texans could have a real possibility in turning him into a viable part of the offensive line with a real offseason.
Newton might be on the outside looking in but, with the injuries and question marks on the offensive line right side, Newton could press Butler for the starting right tackle position. Look for Newton this upcoming season to make some noise and be exactly what the Texans are looking for, a young offensive lineman who could be here for some time to come.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter, he is the Editor of State of the Texans, and is a draft analyst on Sideline Scouting