Houston Texans Positional Breakdown: Defensive Line

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Mar 20, 2014; Notre Dame, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish former football player Louis Nix runs a drill during Notre Dame pro day at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Louis Nix III, Nose Tackle, 6’2″ 331 Pounds, 23 Years Old

One of the bigger falls in the 2014 NFL Draft, the once assumed first round prospect, nose tackle Louis Nix, fell to the third round. Nix found himself in coach Bill O’Brien’s doghouse last year, and never made it to a regular season game due to injuries.

Some Background Info;

According to NFL.com, Nix still should have been a top fifty selection, but fell to the 83rd selection overall.

"Despite standing to benefit from a more dominant senior season in South Bend, Nix, who already graduated, opted to forgo his final year of eligibility in order to provide for 13 siblings. He does not enter the NFL with momentum, having coped with knee tendinitis before season-ending surgery to repair a torn left meniscus, and too often his gregarious personality and media hype overshadowed his performance. However, if the massive interior defender taps into his power more consistently, Nix has ample mass, strength and athleticism to anchor a “30” front as a space-eating, block-occupying run stuffer."

Still, Nix found himself in a great spot after his Notre Dame career, with a team that could use what he does best. While it is admirable that Nix wants to provide for his numerous siblings, he needs to take advantage of his situation and learn from his new big mentor, Vince Wilfork.

What To Expect This Year;

As long as Nix can find his health again, look for him to be the top guy off the bench to spell Vince. He can come in and the team will not lose any size or strength.

If Nix can find a way to focus and stay on the field, his surprising athleticism for such a large man should be able to shine through. 2015 will basically be his rookie season, but he doesn’t have much rope to learn. I expect to see him take the role and run with it, making the team feel good about the position after Wilfork’s two-year deal is up.

Aug 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Houston Texans defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (97) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jeoffrey Pagan, Defensive End, 6’3″ 310 Pounds, 21 Years Old

Last year’s sixth round selection out of Alabama didn’t see much action at all in 2014, but sure hopes he can find his way to the field in 2015. His best bet is to prove he can be a reliable end in the system and possibly keep the team from having to dish out a larger contract to a starter like Crick.

Some Background Info;

The kid from North Carolina was expected to go much higher than round six according to scouts with NFL.com.

"Thickly built, relatively nondescript contributor who decided to forgo his senior season despite never establishing himself as a force. Has size and strength to warrant developmental consideration as a five-technique, but lacks exceptional traits and will have to commit to handling the dirty work to have longevity."

Handling the dirty work is something that is required of all lineman in this front and Pagan has the size and coaching to get it done.

What To Expect This Year;

I expect to see a large jump in production from the young man who only recorded ten tackles in 2014. He should be the top option to spell both Watt and Crick this season, and even has the size to play some in the middle.

Look for Pagan to be on the field a lot this year and while I like Crick, I think when his contract is up, Pagan will replace him and could potentially have more upside.

Next: A Rookie With Huge Upside, And An Undrafted Guy From A Big Program