The Washington State left tackle killed it at the combine

Texans and Andre Dillard are a match made in heaven

Cody Stoots/SportsMap

The Texans need Andre Dillard. More specifically, they need a player like Andre Dillard. A freakish athlete who backs up his wow workout moments with success on the field at left tackle.

Currently scheduled to pick 23 in the first round and with need on the offensive line, the Texans would be very lucky to be able to pick Dillard. His floor might be higher than the Texans selection after today.

People Andre Dillard's size shouldn't be able to do the things Dillard did Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. The former Washington State left tackle manned the blindside in Pullman, WA for years and he is well on his way to making that his career path in the NFL.

Dillard started the day showing off his freakish speed.

That would end up being the fourth best number by an offensive lineman on the day. He would be the top performer in the 20-yard shuttle among the offensive linemen as well.

He would again be the best in the combine class with a huge broad jump.

It is the second-best offensive lineman broad jump since 2006.

Now how about the actual on-field play. After all, he's not getting drafted to play gym he's getting drafted to play football. According to Dillard's former quarterback Gardner Minshew his left tackle took a lot off his plate.

Having started 39 consecutive games for the Cougars running a Mike Leach offense there is plenty of film for teams to consume and get used to Dillard's pass blocking. Each of the past three years Washington State led the nation in pass attempts.

"A lot of teams have said it's a good thing that I have pass-protection ability," he said. "Because the NFL passes a lot. It's something that's not easy to master, so they like that I have lot of that in my background."

He credits some of his footwork success to being a multi-sports athlete.

Now, about run blocking. The Cougars have been dead last in rushing attempts the past two seasons meaning any inconsistency in his run blocking sticks out more with less reps to analyze.

"I'm pretty critical of myself," Dillard said at his combine media availability. "So one area for improvement is definitely continuing to improve on the run game.I showcased a bit of that ability at the Senior Bowl, and I just plan to continue that."

He joked the offense in college had just two zone running plays and that was it.

Helping the ground game will obviously have to get better but the Texans need help at tackle and they need it now. The team met with Dillard at the Senior Bowl but as of Thursday he hadn't met with the Texans at the combine. The league leaders in sacks allowed and a talent like Dillard, though initially maybe lacking in the rushing game, can help the pass game tremendously. Also, with teams having reservations about his ability to run block, he could slide down the draft board to where the Texans select.

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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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