All eyes are on Lonnie Ballentine, can Mr.Irrelevant finally be relevant?
It’s interesting for Houston Texans’ safety Lonnie Ballentine–a late round draft pick entering his fourth season–to be garnering this much attention.
Ballentine has ended up on injured reserve for three consecutive seasons, yet he has been able to remain with the Texans.
Drafted with the last pick in the 2014 NFL Draft from the University of Memphis, Ballentine set out to defy the odds of his draft status and become what the Texans desired ever since Glover Quin left for the Detroit Lions in free agency, stability at the safety position.
Listed at 6-foot-3, and able to run a 4.39 forty-yard dash., the sky is the limit for Ballentine. He has the speed to stay with receivers and the size to contribute in stopping the opposing team’s run game.
Ballentine is one of the most athletic players that the Texans have had at the safety position.
However, Ballentine has yet to be healthy for one full season. His past three years since entering the NFL have gone like this:
Rookie Season: Injured reserve.
Second season: Played against the Jacksonville Jaguars before being sent to injured reserve due to a torn PCL, MCL, and dislocated knee.
Third Season: Played against the Denver Broncos before being sent to injured reserve due to an Ankle, Groin, and knee injuries
The patience given to the Ballentine by the Texans’ coaching staff and front office is a rare sight in the NFL. Business decisions are made everyday and being the last pick of the draft makes him expendable, but his skill set is intriguing.
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Ballentine was part of the 2014 draft class that has had a couple of busts in Jeoffrey Pagan and Louis Nix III. Both were drafted ahead of Ballentine, but were waived due to the inability to stay healthy.
Ballentine will need to show the coaches throughout the preseason that he can be relied on. His rookie contract is set to expire after this season and it will determine his future in the NFL.
He has a golden opportunity to showcase his freakish talents to the Texans and thirty-one other NFL teams that want to get bigger and faster at the safety position.