Xavier Su’a-Filo entering make or break contract year

Nov 27, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans guard Xavier Su'a-Filo (71) on the sideline during the game against the San Diego Chargers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans guard Xavier Su'a-Filo (71) on the sideline during the game against the San Diego Chargers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Xavier Su’a-Filo will have to become an above average starter on the offensive line this season to earn a second contract with the Houston Texans.

Xavier Su’a-Filo was drafted by the Houston Texans at the top of the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft with the 33rd overall pick.

Over the past two seasons Su’a-Filo has taken ownership of the starting left guard job on the Texans’ offensive line. While he has had some bright moments he definitely needs to improve entering a contract year.

Lets take a look at Su’a-Filo’s career thus far. Starting with when he was drafted:

The Promising Rookie

We tend to forget how players are initially thought of entering the league.

Su’a-Filo was considered the second best interior offensive lineman in the 2014 NFL Draft behind Dallas Cowboys’ All-Pro Zack Martin.  

Su’a-Filo was projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round that year. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network liked the pick.

It’s easy to get upset as a draft fan over who your favorite team could have had instead of the player they picked. I’m sure every team wishes they had drafted Tom Brady before he went in the SIXTH ROUND!

And yes if the Texans were picking knowing what they know now I am sure they would have taken quarterback Derek Carr.

But Carr had his own warts as a prospect beyond his last name to cause him to get drafted in the second round. The Texans weren’t the only team to pass on him.

Houston needed help across the board coming off a 2-14 season with a new head coach. People can’t get mad at Su’a-Filo for not being a franchise quarterback.

Year One Mental Struggles

Su’a-Filo certainly didn’t land in the most ideal situation entering the league. He was unable to attend OTA’s or minicamp due to the silly outdated academic rule currently preventing this year’s 5th round pick, cornerback Treston Decoud from working with the team.

The transition into the NFL for offensive linemen is hard enough but it’s further compounded by not being able to practice with your team until training camp.

As if that weren’t enough, the coaches made a head scratching decision to give Su’a-Filo practice reps at multiple positions on the offensive line. Rather than letting the rookie already behind the rest of his teammates learn one position and learn it well.

It is not a surprise that Su’a-Filo’s rookie season was a jumbled mess as he only managed to start one game. Lets throw that out, chalk it up to experience and move on to year two.

Year Two Physical Struggles

Su’a-Filo finally had a full NFL offseason to improve. But he sustained a high ankle sprain early in the year. And then a calf injury to the same leg further hindering his effectiveness. Year two went a little better than Su’a-Filo’s rookie year, but he didn’t improve much.

Su’a-Filo was only healthy enough to play 11 games and start nine. The games he did play he was clearly hampered by his ankle/calf injury. He came on a bit giving the team some help as a run blocker towards the end of the season but struggled mightily as a pass protector.

Year Three Average

FINALLY! Su’a-Filo had a full offseason to get better and be the best teammate he can be. He also managed to stay healthy for every game.

Su’a-Filo was the lone bright spot on offense during a rough Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos. Ranking as the top graded left guard by Pro Football Focus that week with the Texans averaging 6.5 yards per carry running behind his blocks.

Su’a-Filo and left tackle Duane Brown were a good combo last season in the run blocking department.  But he was still bad as a pass blocker last season. Allowing the most sacks in the NFL compared to every other offensive guard.

Year Four Above Average?

Su’a-Filo is heading into a contract year now. I’m not expecting him to morph into Larry Allen reincarnated, though it would be nice.

All Xavier Su’a-Filo needs to do is become somewhat competent as a pass blocker and continue to be a good run blocker and the Texans will have themselves a bona fide above average starting guard.

Those guys usually get re-signed before free agency.

Leave a comment below and tell us who you think needs to play above average to get a new contract next season.