When do you cut defensive lineman Louis Nix III? That is the question that has likely circulated the Houston Texans front office. Head coach Bill O’Brien brought in the rookie nose tackle in hopes that he would compliment the Houston Texan’s run stopping abilities.
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Drafting Nix in the third round of the 2014 draft was considered to be a steal for the Texans as they hoped to add to their already stellar defense. Nix acquired 122 total tackles, (43 solo) 2.5 sacks and 8 passes deflected in his three year tutelage at Notre Dame university. Nix was projected to be an early first or second round draft pick in 2014, depending on how many teams running a 3-4 defense wanted to pursue him.
Two major faults caused him to fall down the draft order for the Texans to land him. The first was his tendency to stand too high and get beaten off his rushing assignment and the second was concern over an existing knee injury. Needless to say, Houston picked him up in hopes that he would play like his breakout 2011 season in college and he could regain superstar status among his teammates.
Not only did Nix fail to assist the team in climbing up the ladder in overall run defense rankings in the league but he failed to play in a single game for the team. All this along with coach O’Brien’s latest comments on Nix would indicate that the second year lineman has not impressed the team with his role.
General manager Rick Smith and Co. have brought in two time super bowl champion, Vince Wilfork to line up next to fellow defensive lineman JJ Watt in the upcoming season. One would have to assume that a secondary benefit to this would be the mentoring role Wilfork is willing to play with young players on the team such as Nix.
So then, at what point does O’Brien begin quietly seeking trade options for Nix? Or does he just cut him from the team altogether?
The Texans head coach has openly said that having Nix “make it through a practice” would go a long way in showing his suitors confidence. Assuming this isn’t done come time to make cuts during OTAs and preseason games, I think Louis Nix III makes it on the team and O’Brien and Smith wait one more season before they let the axe drop.
That being said, if Nix proves to continue to be an injury risk or any kind of a locker room issue, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear news of his dismissal from the team. He signed a four year contract with the team worth $2.8 million. An easy fee to swallow for a team with postseason aspirations. If I’m Louis Nix III, I’m making sure the time I spent in the offseason was well worth it.