Houston Texans: Julién Davenport will beat out Matt Kalil at starting LT

Houston Texans left tackle Julie'n Davenport (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Houston Texans left tackle Julie'n Davenport (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Houston Texans fans, there will be a positional battle at left tackle this offseason between Julién Davenport and Matt Kalil. Here’s why Davenport will win.

And just like that, Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine has ignited a fire under the rears of two offensive linemen that are signed with the team.  He spoke recently to the media and he highlighted that Matt Kalil was brought here for a reason and for one only, to challenge Julién Davenport to reach his full potential.

And for all intents and purposes, it’s likely going happen.  Although Davenport hasn’t developed as quickly as we’ve liked, he turned in a stronger performance toward the end of the season, ending it much better than he started.

He still had struggled against some of the elite defenses but he racked up nowhere near the number of penalties he had in 2017 when he was just getting his feet wet at the position.

Now let me rephrase that.  He had 16 penalties in 2018 compared to only four in 2017 but considering the notion that he had the latter amount in one game in ’17, constitutes that improvement for the 4th-round pick out of Bucknell is certainly on the horizon.

But nonetheless, the Houston Texans have brought in the 29-year-old Kalil for insurance at the tackle position.  I just hope the team’s premiums are paid up because there’s probably going to be a check needed to be written based off of Kalil’s injury history.

Kalil missed all of 2018 with a knee injury but had a solid 2017 outing.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Kalil had a 62.4 overall, 69.4 pass block and 54.3 run block grade, ranking him 23rd among tackles with at least 892 snaps in 2017.  He allowed 46 pressures which included 31 quarterback hurries, eight QB hits and seven sacks.  He racked up 10 penalties, the 2nd-highest mark of his career through 1,100 snaps.

He was recently cut after being just two years into his five-year, $55 million deal from the Carolina Panthers, likely because of the exorbitant amount of his contract as well as the team making tough roster decisions to keep the team’s payroll lean.

Now that Kalil is a member of the Houston Texans, how does he stack up against Davenport’s limited body of work?  Let’s look.

PFF has Davenport graded at 54.9 overall, 56.6 pass block and 55.0 run block for this past season.

Those are clearly short of Kalil’s numbers but when you look at his last four games — including the Wild Card game against the Indianapolis Colts, arguably his best performance of the season — it goes to show that he’s trending on the way up.

Davenport, 24, averaged a 63.2 overall, 64.3 pass block and 62.7 run block grade in the last four

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games of the season which included a tough matchup for him against the Philadelphia Eagles back in Week 15.

I think Davenport is truly attaining a grasp of his job duty and although we’d like for him to improve more, the proof is in the pudding.

Davenport will win the left tackle job and that’s all there is to it.  There’s nothing like healthy competition to get someone’s motor running in tip-top shape and I think this is exactly what he needed.

And when you’re talking health, that hasn’t been Kalil’s strength factor as of late.  Because of that notion, Davenport should win by default — as he has been relatively healthy — but there’s no doubt he will EARN every bit of the distinction of being a starter in the NFL.

I still believe in Davenport as much now as I did when the Houston Texans drafted him but it’s up to him to put in the work to show he’s the best.

There’s no doubt that he will but we’ll definitely have to keep an eye out.

I can’t wait for training camp!

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