May 17, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) participates in rookie mini-camp at Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Impact Projections: Houston Texans

With preseason action in full swing across the National Football League, I continue my impact projections for rookies this season for all thirty-two teams. The team on the slate is the Houston Texans. The Texans washed out for one of their worst seasons in franchise history last year despite all the talent up and down the roster. Houston came into the draft process with the coveted first overall selection and a desperate need to find a franchise quarterback.  Each selection will be graded on a scale of one to ten, one being a little to no impact player and a ten being an immediate high impact player.  The Houston Texans made 10 selections in the 2014 NFL draft.

Jadeveon Clowney (Defensive End/Linebacker) – 1st round (Pick 1)

Clowney was the clear-cut best prospect in the draft months before we knew who would be slotted to take him. His upside is endless and his freakish athleticism for his size is unbelievable. Clowney will flourish on this already solid defense and with stud J.J. Watt teaching him the works. Clowney is in for a monster rookie season.

Impact Projection: 10 out of 10

Xavier Su’a-Filo (Guard) – 2nd round (Pick 33)

Xavier was touted as the best interior lineman prospect in the entire draft, another win for Houston. Su’a-Filo is an immediate plug and play guard for the Texans. He has great mechanics and was a three-year starter at UCLA. His physical prowess leaves a little to be desired but after a few months in an NFL weight room he should be able to improve his strength and muscle. While currently second string on the depth chart, don’t be surprised if Xavier is the starting left guard in week one.

Impact Projection: 7 out of 10

C.J. Fiedorowicz (Tight End) – 3rd round (Pick 65)

C.J. is another great pick up here for Houston. With an unproven commodity in Garrett Graham starting, C.J. should see plenty of opportunities to hit the field this season. His size (6’5” 265 lbs) and still decent athleticism make him an interesting guy to watch. He isn’t going to stretch the defense for thirty yards but with some polishing he could be the Texans complete tight end as a blocker and intermediate pass catcher. Look for Fiedorowicz to make the most of his time on the field this year.

Impact Projection: 6 out of 10

Louis Nix (Nose Tackle) – 3rd round (Pick 83)

Nix is a massive interior presence along the defensive front. He is a mammoth who can push through the interior and shut down running lanes. Louis has shows flashes of being dominant and being able to maul guards and centers, however his conditioning is a big concern. Nix has struggled with weight fluctuation and fatigue over the  years. After some time in the weight room with teammates he should be able to pick up the slack and earn solid rotational minutes this year as the middle man in this defense.

Impact Projection: 5 out of 10

Tom Savage (Quarterback) – 4th round (Pick 135)

Savage is a wait and see prospect at quarterback. He has great physical features with his cannon arm, impressive size, and durability but he still is behind in the mental aspect of the game. He doesn’t progress his reads fast enough and often sits his eyes on the target resulting in turnovers. His athleticism, or lack thereof, means he has to be able to fire quickly from the pocket with ease, something he just isn’t ready to do. A few seasons down the road (hopefully for Texan fans it’s no sooner) Savage will get his chance to show us if he has what it takes.

Impact Projection: 1 out of 10

Jeoffrey Pagan (Defensive End) – 6th round (Pick 177)

Pagan is a bulky defensive end who has experience in multiple defensive styles. Pagan is a solid wrap up tackler and can use his size to force the pocket shut. However, Jeoffrey doesn’t possess much athleticism at the position and struggles to make consistent rushes on the passer or any significant big plays. His playing time is relatively low, so he needs to be coached up on pass rush moves, proper technique and mechanics. Expect Pagan to a be a second or third rotational option along the defensive front this season.

Impact Projection: 2 out of 10

Alfred Blue (Running back) – 6th round (Pick 181)

Blue is a big bodied back who is well-rounded in all phases of the game. He is a natural receiver out of the back field and runs with a purpose. Alfred doesn’t possess elite speed or acceleration but does a solid job of breaking tackles and pushing past defenders. Blue has all the physical tools to be a solid number two back and develop into more. His maturity and health must be watched carefully. If Arian Foster has any health issues this year, Blue may see his chance to shine.

Impact Projection: 3 out of 10

Jay Prosch (Fullback) – 6th round (Pick 211)

Prosch is a machine at fullback. He is a phenomenal blocker in both the run and pass and is a solid short yardage back. Jay is a two-way player, having special teams experience as well. Prosch will be a great locker room presence. Expect the Texans to keep him around in case of any injuries in the backfield this year.

Impact Projection: 3 out of 10

Andre Hal (Cornerback) – 7th round (Pick 216)

Hal is a super competitive but undersized corner who needs to do a better job of keeping his hands out of play. Andre struggles with the bigger faster receivers and often finds himself in trouble for hand use. However he has special teams experience and shows the intangibles needed to play the position. With some polishing he could be the 3rd or 4th corner on the team in a few years.

Impact Projection: 2 out of 10

Lonnie Ballentine (Safety) – 7th round (Pick 256)

Lonnie is a great athlete but is incredibly raw at the position. He has all the tools to get to the play but his reaction time and his timing on the ball as well as ball skills all must be improved for him to have a chance at roaming the defensive backfield. However his combination of speed and pursuit could win him a job on the special teams unit.

Impact Projection: 2 out of 10

The Texans are a team loaded with talent but no answer at the quarterback position. The team feels comfortable enough with journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, so they waited until round four to pick up the hopeful man of the future in Savage. The Texans did a great job of drafting players who can come in and contribute right away this season with Clowney, Su’a-Filo, C.J., and Nix. All four of these players have a chance to end the season as full-time starters for this squad, with the diamond of course being Clowney. This team did an excellent job of combining players that can come in and contribute right away as well as getting guys to set themselves up for the future. This Houston Texans 2014 rookie class is easily one of the best they have ever touted, and they should be hitting the field early and often this season.

Joe Kleine is also co-host of thefinsradio.com show The Direct Snap, alongside fellow PhinPhanatic and Rant Sports writer Tyler McMullen (also on facebook search Tyler McMullen – Rant Sports). Please check out our facebook at www.facebook.com/theofficialdirectsnap or check us out on Twitter at the handle, @Direct_Snap. Our free to listen show about the NFL is on blogtalkradio.com/finsradio is on next Saturday August 16th at 8:30 PM Eastern time! Check out our show, give us a call, or e-mail us at [email protected]! Also be sure to check out OntheFinside, another great finsradio program!

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Tags: Jadeveon Clowney Louis Nix Xavier Su'a-Filo

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