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Why Christian Covington is the Texans’ breakout player this season

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Filling in for an injured J.J. Watt last year set Covington up for bigger things.

Houston Texans v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

My pick for the Houston Texans’ breakout player is a guy by the name of Christian Covington. Now, he isn't really a household name yet, but I definitely think this kid is a rapidly ascending player. He will be going into his third season, and I thought he filled in very well for J.J. Watt at that five-technique defensive end spot last year.

Covington is a very active player. He's "only" 6'2 and a little over 300 pounds according to his bio, but man, this kid plays so much bigger than that. To the point where I had to keep going back and rechecking his profile because he just looks much bigger than that on film, both in stature and in how he plays. He's also a very strong guy. You just don't see him get pushed off the ball very much, even when he's taking on double teams.

He's also very active with his hands against both the run and the pass, which I love. Slippery is the word I would use to describe him in that it’s really hard for offensive lineman to stay engaged with him on their blocks. He just finds a way to slip them and get to the ball.

His effort is also outstanding. I love to see defensive lineman hauling ass to the ball carrier down the field. It doesn't take any ability to hustle, it just takes heart and Covington has plenty of that.

To me, he was just getting his feet wet last year, having been thrown into the fire after Watt was injured and no longer able to go. Covington ended up with 26 total tackles and a sack last season in five starts out of 16 games, and he probably had no idea what he was doing half the time. The more he was out there, the more confidently he played. By season’s end, Covington looked like he belonged as a starter.

Now it appears that Covington will now start opposite of J.J. Watt as a defensive tackle in the Texans’ 3-4 defense, which should give him even more opportunities to make plays. If Covington is able to carry over the swagger he was playing with at the end of last season to this season, he should become even more of a playmaker for Houston this year.

With guys like Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney surrounding him, it will be easy to overlook Covington again, but I think those guys are going to help lift his game up as well. By the end of the season the Texans may have the best defensive front in the league.

He might not be a Pro Bowler like the rest of his line mates, but I do think Covington's stats are going to improve dramatically this year. He should have the biggest jump of any Texans player, and that's why Christian Covington is my choice for Houston's breakout player of 2017.