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Clemson's D.J. Reader Has Opportunity to Excel with Houston Texans

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
With the vast network of team specific sites on SB Nation, we decided to reach out to some of the teams that now former Clemson players will be playing for in the NFL. First up is Chris from the Houston Texans site Battle Red Blog. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about D.J. Reader and what we may come to expect from him with the Texans.

STS: What was your reaction when hearing the Texans drafted DJ Reader?

BRB: I was very pleased, at least at the idea of taking a large NT/defensive lineman.  Reader was probably the best option at the time for a true NT, and he seems to have a lot of upside.  We had to address the offense in this draft, so I never expected any immediate impact defensive linemen.  I don't think Reader will be that right away, but apparently Wilfork is the type of locker room guy who doesn't mind taking the young guys under his wing.  I'm really hoping he does, and that Reader is ready to absorb every bit.

STS: What has been the reaction of the fanbase to Reader being drafted by the Texans?

BRB: In general, it was quite positive.  The fanbase as a whole has always pined for fat NTs dating back to the early Kubiak days.  We rejoiced when the Texans drafted Louis Nix and were upset when he was a total washout.  We were good with the Wilfork signing, but we all knew he was obviously well past his prime.  I do know a couple of folks whose draft evaluations I trust, and they all liked the Reader pick (and had him rated as a 4th-5th rounder).  But in general - very positive reaction.  We love space-eaters down here because it gets us all excited about opening things up for J.J. Watt.

STS: How does Reader seem to fit into the Texans plans for 2016 and beyond?

BRB: If Wilfork is willing to teach and Reader is willing to bust his tail like a pro from the beginning, I'm sure he's in the long-term plan for sure.  Wilfork won't be in Houston beyond 2016, and if Reader can show enough flashes in 2016 I can certainly see the coaches penciling him in as a starter in place of Vince.  It's really just going to depend on how much he can get on the field, and I think he'll definitely have his chances this season considering Wilfork's diminishing skills and likelihood of him missing some games due to health.  The Texans love to move things around on the defensive line, so I expect he'll get a pretty good look.  Another thing working in Readers' favor, the Texans did not play Wilfork one single snap in the pre-season last year, with no report at all of any health issues.  He should get all kinds of playing time in August.

STS: I've seen some mention in the news that Reader will be groomed as an NT, what's the plan for him?

BRB: The Texans aren't big on sharing these types of details this early on, but yes - I am certainly working under the impression he will be groomed as a true NT.  Houston's Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel has a long, long history of big fat NTs, and I don't see any reason he can't be the next - unless he disappoints in 2016 and the Texans fall in love with another guy in the next draft.  You generally don't carry TWO big fat NTs on the roster at once unless it's an overlap/grooming situation as I expect this is with Wilfork.

STS: For you what are the big concerns about Reader that will determine his success with Houston?

BRB: He's just kind of an unknown for me.  I'd be more excited if he was more highly-rated, or if he was a guy who was thought to be a 3rd rounder who slipped.  He played for a big-time school and against big-time competition, so being drafted where he was - I'm not expecting him to come in right away and wreck folks.  I just hope he has the killer work ethic that he'll need to ramp up QUICKLY.  I feel a little stung by the Louis Nix failure - a guy who by all measures was certainly more talented than Reader, but just didn't really seem to give a damn and washed out frighteningly quick.

STS: How do you think Reader's career plays out both with the Texans and elsewhere?

BRB: I don't see any reason he can't line himself up nicely to be a rotational contributor in 2016 and possibly a starter in 2017 if he can hold his ground in the middle.  It's really going to depend on what he does with his pre-season opportunities.  If he stays healthy and stays out of Romeo's doghouse, I can see him sticking around for sure.