The running game has been the bread of butter of the Houston Texans’ offensive attack the past couple of seasons. The Texans have some dynamic running backs, but the true staple of the offense has been the offensive line. This unit has been among the league’s elite, perfectly executing the zone-blocking run scheme and selling the play-action passing game. The group took a hit in the offseason following the release of starting RT Eric Winston and loss of unrestricted free agent starting RG Mike Brisiel. The Texans’ coaching staff has expressed their confidence in RG Antoine Caldwell and RT Rashad Butler to step in and start. The organization also used three draft picks on OG Brandon Brooks, OC Ben Jones, and OT Nick Mondek to add depth and competition. Given offensive line is a critical position group for the Texans, they have also agreed to terms with undrafted free agents Nate Menkin and Cody White.
Nate Menkin is an offensive tackle from Division III University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He was a four-year starter with a laundry list of accolades, including two ASC All-Conference selections, First Team All-South Region honors from D3football.com, an AFCA All-American selection, and was named American Southwest Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior. At 6’4”, 296 lbs., Menkin ran a 5.08 40-yard dash at his pro day to go along with an impressive 39 bench press reps at 225 lbs., the second most of any collegiate player at any level that was eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Cody White played primarily offensive tackle for Illinios State University, an FCS (formerly DIAA) program, where as a senior he was named an All- Missouri Valley Football Conference Honorable Mention selection. Transitioning to the NFL, White will be moving to guard. White is used to moving around, spending his first two seasons at Illinois State as a tight end before being move to O-line. His relative athleticism at his 6’4”, 305 lbs. frame is a strength, having run a 4.97 40 at his pro day and bench-pressing 225 lbs. 31 times.
The Texans undoubtedly value offensive line play and depth at the position and have appropriately addressed their need in the draft. What this unfortunately for Menkin and White, there may not be a roster spot available for them come roster decision time. The Texans already have eight linemen on the roster and adding the three draft picks gets you to eleven. Now there is always the possibility Menkin, White, or both dazzle during OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp to the point one of the veteran O-linemen get cut, but it’s certainly an uphill climb. Menkin and White will both have to play catch up on the sometimes complex zone-blocking schemes while adjusting to the speed of the NFL while jumping from generally less-competitive NCAA sub-divisions. But like all undrafted rookie free agents, Menkin and White are not just auditioning for the Texans, but also other NFL teams who may have a need or see something from these two should they get cut.
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