Houston Texans: Breaking down interior offensive linemen positional group
By Jair Lopez
The Houston Texans are running it back with the majority of their offensive line, and they could have a better unit heading into their second season together.
The Houston Texans offensive line as a unit improved last season after an up and down 2018 season. With the offensive tackle position already solidified, the offensive line allowed 49 sacks after surrendering a league-high 62 sacks in 2018.
However, the Texans finally have some continuity in their offensive line for the first time in a while, with all their starters heading into this season. The interior of the offensive line is one of the underrated groups heading into next season for the Texans.
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Houston has a solid starting group in Max Scharping at left guard, Nick Martin at center, and Zach Fulton at right guard. Starting at center for the Texans, Martin had a successful season for Houston being active for all 16 games for only the second time in his career as he dealt with numerous injuries in the past. Martin was particularly effective as a pass protector for Deshaun Watson by only surrendering two sacks through the regular season.
Fulton allowed only one sack through the entire season and made 15 starts through the season. Fulton remains an instrumental part of the offensive line after signing with Houston in 2018 and has been underrated fixture for the cohesiveness of the group. The coaching staff has praised him for his versatility and durability in his time with the Texans.
Despite the interest the Texans might have in Larry Warford, it’s tough to see Fulton being out of Houston’s plans for this season. The Texans have tried to find a steady group to have at the offensive line, and Fulton has formed an instrumental part in keeping Watson upright.
Meanwhile, Scharping was impressive in his own right by making 14 starts at left guard in his rookie season. Scharping proved he was reliable and durable for the offensive line as he only allowed three sacks in the regular season. His six penalties could be reduced, but it comes with the territory of starting a rookie for almost an entire season.
Scharping could become a better a player at left guard in his second season with almost an entire year in the Texans offense, and having better chemistry with the group. Scharping’s emergence could very well spell the end of Kelemete’s tenure with the Texans as he enters the final season of the three years $12 million deal he signed in free agency.
Kelemete has struggled with injuries, and that opened the door for the Texans to see what they had in Scharping, and the rookie from Northern Illinois didn’t disappoint. Texans have veterans like Greg Mancz and Brent Qvale that could be cheaper alternatives than Kelemete meanwhile also having intriguing young prospects in Cordel Iwuagwu and Elex Woodworth to develop.
The Texans have a solid rotation of interior linemen for next season and promising players to develop for the foreseeable future.