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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TOP LANDING SPOTS FOR 3 TEXANS

3 players the Texans must trade before the deadline

Trading Mercilus would be a big win from a cap perspective. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Strapped for cash and no picks within the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, the Houston Texans should consider having a fire sales ahead of the NFL trade deadline. With the team going nowhere and the uncertainty of the future, J.J. Watt has dominated the rumor mill with the Texans doing the unthinkable of departing from their franchise star.

But despite sitting at 1-6 on the season, the idea of trading Watt has become less probable following Aaron Wilson's appearance on Locked On Texans. During the interview, Wilson — Texans beat reporter for the Houston Chronicle — said it would be hard for ownership to sell the idea of moving on from Watt seven months after the untimely departure of DeAndre Hopkins.

So with the Texans holding on to their future Hall of Famer, that should not hinder the organization from exploring trade options with the other 52 men on the roster not named Deshaun Watson.

The Texans are in desperate need of a rebuild to repair the destruction caused by former head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien. Houston has several tradeable assets on their roster — some of which a contender may overcompensate for in hopes of obtaining the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February.

To get a jumpstart on what could be a two-year rebuilding project, here are three players the Texans should consider moving ahead of the Nov. 3 trade deadline.

Whitney Mercilus

If the Texans elect not to move on from Watt, the organization should have a 180 approach to Whitney Mercilus. The 30-year-old outside linebacker is scheduled to make a projected $35.5 million over the next three seasons, and his on-field production does not match the big payday coming from the Texans.

Prior to his massive $54 million contract extension awarded last December, Mercilus was on a roll in 2019. He recorded 7.5 sacks — five coming within the first four weeks of the season — to go along with 48 total tackles and four forced fumbles. Seven weeks into the 2020 season, Mercilus is nowhere close to matching his 2019 output with only 3.0 sacks, 14 total tackles and no forced fumbles.

But despite his decline as of late, multiple teams around the league can use Mercilus' services to enhance their pass rush. The Green Bay Packers and the Tennessee Titans are two championship-contending teams who desperately need to upgrade their front seven in their attempt to represent their respective conference in Super Bowl LV. The Packers are dead last in quarterback pressures, and Jadeveon Clowney is far from the disruptive force the Titans expected.

Mercilus' arrival to any of the two teams may not be a bona fide game-changer, but an upgrade nevertheless. Perhaps a change of scenery could be the key to unlocking the Mercilus who logged a career-best 12 sacks in 2015.

The Seahawks could also use the talents of Mercilus to enhance their linebacking corps, but their recent trade to acquire DT Carlos Dunlay could leave Seattle short on their trade offer to Houston.

Best trade partner: Titans

Duke Johnson

The Houston Texans' run game has been nonexistent throughout the season, and it's time for the organization to experiment with a younger prospect — preferably Scottie Phillips — during the second half of the season.

While it would be nice if the Texans could find a trade partner for David Johnson, no team would be willing to take on the near $8 million base salary he is due next season for his lack of production. Which leaves the better half of the Johnson Brothers up for grabs in Duke Johnson.

Duke has experienced a significant decrease in his touches when compared to last season and could be more beneficial to a playoff team seeking help in their backfield.

The Chicago Bears are the one team where Duke's talents could be beneficial and properly utilized. Chicago lost their Pro-Bowl running back Tarik Cohen for the season due to a torn ACL and has since struggled in the run game. David Montgomery has done a moderate job filling in for the injured Cohen, but the second-year halfback has yet to prove himself as an every-down back.

Duke's skill set as a pass-catcher coming out of the backfield is the most suitable attribute he would be able to provide to the Bears. Cohen is one of the most dynamic dual-threat halfbacks, and Duke would be able to give the Bears' offense a sense of normalcy in his absence.

The New England Patriots may explore the market to enhance their backfield. But one can imagine that Bill Belichick is more interested in adding a receiver in an attempt to salvage the remainder of their season.

Best trade partner: Bears

Will Fuller

Next to Watt, Will Fuller has been the second most discussed Texan in the rumor mill. Fuller could survive the trade deadline and become a foundational piece to the Texans' rebuilding project, but Houston may not be willing to tie long-term money into the Notre Dame product given his injury history.

Several teams around the league have their eyes set on a potential deal for Fuller, but none more so the Packers.

Green Bay is seeking a receiver who they can pair alongside Pro-Bowler Davante Adams. A potential deal for Fuller would give the Packers a quality second-tear receiver, while reprising his role as a team's No. 2 option — similar to his early days playing alongside Hopkins.

Fuller would also be a tremendous upgrade to the Patriots. New England does not have any quality receivers on their roster, and their depth has become more vulnerable after the team placed Julian Edelman on IR following knee surgery.

While the Patriots are in dire need to add a receiver, Belichick may hesitate from giving up too many assets — especially draft picks — that could be valuable to their own rebuilding process should the Cam Newton experiment fail. While on pace for a career-year, the Texans should look to cash-in on Fuller while his trade stock is at an all-time high.

Best trade partner: Packers

Coty M. Davis is a reporter for ESPN 97.5 Houston/SportsMap covering the Houston Texans. He is also the co-host of Locked On Texans, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Follow Coty on Twitter @CotyDavis_24.

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