Houston Texans: Analyzing Reshard Cliett (Who?)


When looking back on any NFL draft class, it’s easy to get so caught up with the first couple picks, that some later picks get swept under the rug. The Houston Texans’ 2015 Draft Class is no different.

Obviously everyone is interested in first round selection Kevin Johnson. Being a first round pick, his name is the first rookie that fans get attached to. First round picks are also incredibly important for a franchise’s future.

Then we get sucked into the second day of the draft for the Texans. Trading up twice, the Texans filled a need at inside linebacker with Benardrick McKinney and added potential first round receiver Jaelen Strong. Both picks were met with praise from both media and fans.

Even in day three, 6th-round selection Christian Covington drew attention because he was already playing in Houston, attending Rice University. But of the four day-three selections the Texans made, one prospect, who was selected five picks ahead of Covington, intrigued more than the others.

Mainly because I had no clue who he was.

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The man of the hour is South Florida outside linebacker Reshard Cliett. Anyone know him? No? Not a household name, for sure. He didn’t come from a particularly dominant program, as USF finished 7th in the AAC, behind more well known schools such as Cincinnati, Central Florida, and, of course, the University of Houston.

I had no clue who this kid was when Houston made their selection, so I figured I would do some digging to see what I could find out. But I didn’t make much progress, as there isn’t that much information about him. NFL.com’s draft page for him includes nothing more than his height, weight, and pro day numbers.

When initially looking at his “tape” (YouTube clips I could find, which were still very scarce), I noticed that Cliett seems to have a lot of tackling ability. He was really able to cling to ballcarriers, and didn’t let them slip out of his grasp. He also seemed to be able to really translate speed to power. One of his sacks last season reminded me of the Jadeveon Clowney hit from the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.

At 6’2, 235 pounds, though, Cliett doesn’t seem to be a prototypical OLB. This strikes me because head coach Bill O’Brien has made it clear that he wants this team to get bigger. So why would the Texans draft a widely unknown, undersized OLB from a school in a non-Power 5 conference?

Because while he may be small compared to other OLBs, Cliett is exactly what O’Brien looks for in a football player.

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For one, Cliett won’t have to stay at OLB. Yes, the Texans need depth there with the recent departure of Brooks Reed, but if there’s one thing that Texans’ fans know, it’s O’Brien’s love for versatility and “the more you can do” mentality.

6’2, 235 lbs may not be ideal for an OLB in a 3-4 defense, but that seems to be prototypical size for a safety. Cliett’s size is similar to that of Carolina Panthers’ first round pick Shaq Thompson, who many speculated could play either OLB or safety. Cliett originally played safety in high school, and could potentially switch back. But more likely than not he’ll stay at OLB as a pass rusher.

Another place where Cliett could have a huge impact is not on the defense, but on special teams. At USF, Cliett was a key special teams player in his freshman and sophomore years, and could prove to be a core special teams player for the Texans. The coaching staff in Houston praised Cliett’s athleticism, which could prove incredibly useful in kickoff and punt coverage.

Another reason the Texans drafted Cliett was because of his football intelligence. High football IQ was a theme for this year’s class, and Cliett is no exception. According to O’Brien, “When he came here to meet with our scouting staff and our coaching staff, we [the staff] were very impressed with his football knowledge, his recollection of his own defensive scheme from college and then his recollection of some of the things we taught him” (via HoustonTexans.com).

All in all, Reshard Cliett should be a great addition to the Houston Texans. His intelligence and athleticism could prove to make him a great value selection in the later rounds, and at the very least will be a solid special teams contributor for years to come.

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