In the more recent round of mock drafts, nine different experts have the Houston Texans drafting an offensive lineman with the 25th overall pick. Mel Kiper, Jr., whose latest mock draft was released this week, foresees the Texans taking Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson in the first round.
Considering All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown is set to enter his tenth season and right tackle Derek Newton is still recovering from a horrid injury to both of his knees, it shouldn’t surprise anybody if Houston uses the draft to retool their offensive line, as they have been fairly quiet in free agency. Unfazed by the speculation that Houston will select his eventual replacement in this year’s draft, Brown said he would take the rookie under his wing and try to be the best mentor possible.
“It’s not awkward at all,” Brown said on Texans Radio. “It’s the business. You know what I mean? I’m going into my tenth year; I’ll be 32 this year. I think I’m still playing at a high level, but you have to look towards the future and whoever they get, if it’s a tackle in the first round, I’ll groom him as much as I can. That’s part of my job and that’s how guys did me.”
A first-round pick in the 2008, Brown understands the point of view from both sides in a situation like this. When the Texans drafted him with the 26th pick, they already had 11-year veteran Ephraim Salaam and third-year starter Eric Winston on their offensive line.
Being a rookie who wanted to be accepted on the team, Brown admitted things were initially awkward. However, Brown went on to start all 16 games in his first year and made his presence felt early in his career, helping pave the way for six 1,000-yard rushers in four of his first five seasons with Houston.
Brown, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, hopes to provide some useful insight to help ease the transition for other players making the leap from college to the professional level.
“Being a first-rounder, you’re expected to come in a start somewhere immediately,” Brown said. “So if you get a first rounder to come in, someone is expected to lose that battle at that position. I’m going into my tenth year and I’m very confident in my abilities and the things I can do on the field, so I wouldn’t slight anyone that came in my knowledge that I can offer them to try to give myself a better chance. I wouldn’t do that at all.”
The longest-tenured player on Houston’s roster, Brown has set a golden standard of toughness and durability, as he has started in 132 games for the team, which ranks second in the franchise’s All-Time list. He was only the second rookie to start all 16 games on the offensive line.