Second-year defensive end Carlos Watkins is showing improvement from where he was during his rookie year and the Houston Texans coaching staff are seeing that progression during training camp and the preseason.
The Houston Texans drafted defensive end Carlos Watkins in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, and during his rookie year he might not have jumped off the page when it came to the stat sheet, but he did gain experience during his first NFL season that showed he’s a talented player who could eventually be a big-time player for the Texans.
Watkins played in 12 games in ’17 where he totaled 21 tackles, one pass defensed and three stuffs at the line of scrimmage. Granted, there is more to be wanted from a 6-3, 310-pound defensive end, but with more time in the system of the Texans, there is that potential for improvement.
In a transcript provided by HoustonTexans.com, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien spoke about how Watkins is progressing on Thursday afternoon:
"“I think he’s doing well. I think he came back in good shape. I think your rookie year it’s always hard. You just don’t know. It’s not the rookie’s fault, they just really don’t know anything. When you’ve done it for a year and then you can come back and understand what it takes to practice like this, then I think you’re a lot farther ahead and I think he’s a lot farther ahead than he was.”"
Looking back at the last five games of the ’17 season, Watkins recorded at least one combined tackle in each of those games, including the regular-season finale against the Indianapolis Colts where he had five combined tackles. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 17, Watkins totaled three combined tackles, and he also had a three-tackle game on Nov. 5 against the Colts, which was his first of six starts for the Texans.
Remember, in college Watkins was able to get to the quarterback with a total of 10.5 sacks in his final season at Clemson, including two sacks in the College Football Playoff against the Ohio State Buckeyes in what was a national championship season for Watkins and Clemson.
With Houston in ’17, Watkins didn’t play in a game until October when he made his NFL debut against the Tennessee Titans, recording an assisted tackle. Watkins followed that up the following week with two tackles against the Cleveland Browns. This preseason, Watkins had two combined tackles against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Texans have a solid player on their roster in Watkins, and it will be exciting to see how much more he progresses in year two on the defensive line. O’Brien seems to be pleased with what he’s seen from Watkins thus far in training camp, and most likely Watkins will only continue to improve as his career continues.