Houston Texans: Rookie DT Carlos Watkins flourishes in his debut

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins /

The Houston Texans had a lot of positives against a hopeless Cleveland Browns team but a key component was the success of rookie defensive tackle Carlos Watkins.

The Houston Texans had to do a lot of mix-and-matching to fill the void of the losses of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.  Those are not easy shoes to fill and damn near impossible to replace the production of those two but you better believe that the Houston Texans are going give it their best effort.

All in all, the Houston Texans are in the fray of the division with each of the AFC South teams being virtually tied with one another.  Who will pull away to win the AFC South?  I’m not sure but I can certainly say unequivocally that we have a great shot in doing so.

The team went out and signed some free agents to bolster their lineup with Lamarr Houston and Kendall Langford being added to help with the depth on the defensive line.  Christian Covington — a guy who I’ve advocated for quite some time — got the start at defensive end, which is Watt’s spot.  Brennan Scarlett started in Mercilus’ position.

But it’s most important to note that rookie Carlos Watkins — just fresh off the Clemson national championship bus with Deshaun Watson — got significant reps at tackle/end.  Watkins was clearly a favorite pick of mine in this year’s draft, drafted in the 4th round along with Julién Davenport.  He had been waiting for this opportunity for quite some time and he finally was able to take advantage of that.

Watkins is also featured on my podcast in a one-on-one interview in the locker room — appropriately titled Locked on Texans — that I do with my co-host Robert Land.  He shares his thoughts on his performance here:

Watkins also received tremendously solid 81.5 grade by Pro Football Focus, being the third highest-graded member of the Texans this week.  He recorded two tackles but what he did out on the field was much more in the 21 snaps that he took.  He continued to disrupt wherever he was and almost forced a safety on Kevin Hogan on the play before it actually occurring on the next one just shortly after the start of the 2nd half.

Who else received the highest grades from PFF?  All of them were defensive guys starting with Johnathan Joseph (97.5), Kareem Jackson (85.4), Benardrick McKinney (80.0) and Christian Covington (79.1).

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In addition, this is a sweet moment for Watkins as it likely culminated the dream he had always set his sights on.  As far as retrospect, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident back in the fall of 2013 after the Dodge Durango that he was in as a passenger in hydroplaned and hit a telephone pole.  He was trapped in the vehicle with his deceased high school friend for more than two hours as rescue crews tried to pry his 6’3,” 309-pound frame out of the wreckage.

So for Watkins, being able to move on from such a traumatic event and make it to the NFL is nothing short of a triumph of his character as well as his can-do spirit.

Take a bow Carlos, you deserve the accolades and I would sure like to see more of this from you.

Good luck and go Texans.