The most competitive position battle in training camp this year for the Houston Texans will be for the starting center position.
Houston Texans’ 2016 second round pick Nick Martin will be battling last year’s starting center Greg Mancz for the top job once training camp opens up in a few weeks.
Martin–a Notre Dame alum–was drafted in the second round last year at No. 50 overall. He did such a good job early in camp he was awarded the starting job and drew rare praise from Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien along with starting left tackle Duane Brown.
If you’ve been following the team since O’Brien became head coach, you know getting him to compliment a rookie before live game action is like pulling teeth.
Unfortunately, Martin sustained an ankle injury in training camp that would cost him his rookie season.
Mancz, who also had his rookie season cut short in 2015 due to an injury (knee), took over and did a very good job.
Being an undrafted rookie and having his first season shortened by injury were tough odds for Mancz. But he was a pleasant surprise as the top graded pass blocker on the Texans’ offensive line per Pro Football Focus.
Now that Martin is back, he wants to get the starting center position he was drafted for back.
While Mancz, having proven he was capable of being a solid starter, aims to keep it.
This position battle will be the most competitive in camp and no matter who wins, the Texans will be better provided that both players stay healthy.
Both Martin and Mancz have the versatility to kick outside to guard if needed. Which means whoever loses the center job will be the top interior offensive line reserve on game days.
As stated earlier, Mancz is a very good pass blocker. His weakness is in the running game where he has trouble pushing the pile due to his lack of strength at the point of attack.
Mancz is an excellent technician and makes due as a “positional blocker”. He will be in the right place with his body and his hands but does not have the strength to really drive guys out of the lane if they don’t want to be moved.
Martin on the other hand has the strength to push the pile. He doesn’t play nice guy football. He adds a much-needed mean streak to the offensive line which is why the Texans drafted him.
If it’s a short yardage situation, chances are the Texans will be calling a run play behind Martin.
The addition of Martin, along with rookie running back D’onta Foreman handling goal line carries, should allow for much greater red zone production than Houston had last season.
We will have to see how Martin looks when training camp opens up after recovery from last year’s ankle injury.
From my point of view Mancz will have the edge as a pass blocker, while Martin will have the edge in run blocking.
Martin’s overall talent should prove greater than Mancz if he comes back healthy, which will give him the starting center job.
Maybe i’m biased picking Martin because I desperately want the Texans to play smash mouth football. With the talent at running back, a commitment to a productive running game would take the pressure off of either quarterbacks Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson.
Early indicators are that Savage will be the starting quarterback benefiting from said running game.
Leave us a comment and let us know who you think will win the starting center job for the Houston Texans!