Houston turned many heads when they took Notre Dame’s Will Fuller with the 22nd overall pick. They opted for Fuller over the more highly touted Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell. It was clear that the Texans were enamored with Fuller’s elite speed and touchdown-making ability. Their need for speed continued in round three.
Houston picked Braxton Miller of Ohio State with their third choice. Miller, a converted quarterback, was thought to be one of the better all-around athletes in the draft. With this pick, Houston again added speed and playmaking ability. One Texan in particular breathed a huge sigh of relief upon seeing the selections.
Ain’t no more double teams baby!
— Deandre Hopkins (@Nukdabomb) April 30, 2016
Deandre Hopkins caught 111 balls for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. All the while, he was seeing passes from Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. D-Hop proved himself as a top five receiver in the NFL. He was double-teamed on a regular basis and still put up all-pro numbers. This year, Nuk Hopkins should have some help.
We can’t put the cart ahead of the horse here. Fuller and Miller are rookies and there will be growing pains. Miller is still learning the position, and both guys are in a new league with new coaches, teammates, and systems. That being said, we’ve seen wide receivers come in, especially in recent years, and do very well in their rookie year.
Odell Beckham Jr. – 91 catches, 1,305 yds., 12 tds
Kelvin Benjamin – 73 catches, 1,008 yds., 9 tds
John Brown – 48 catches, 696 yds., 5 tds
Amari Cooper – 72 catches, 1,070 yds., 6 tds
Mike Evans – 68 catches, 1,051 yds., 12 tds
It’s not out of the question for either Fuller or Miller, or both, to come in and make an immediate impact. You can bet that that Brock Osweiler is licking his chops to see the abundance of talent he has around him. Coaches O’Brien and Godsey will, no doubt, look to extend the field with the speed merchants they now have at their disposal. While Fuller and Miller hold promise, we can’t forget about Jaelen Strong, Cecil Shorts III, and Keith Mumphery.
Strong had a disappointing rookie season after coming into camp out of shape. He slimmed down and made some plays late, but never really got into the groove. Strong showed up to OTA’s slim and trim and making plays, which bodes well for both him and the Texans. He could prove to be a great complement to Hopkins if he can draw some safety attention on the other side.
Cecil Shorts III is a veteran presence who can be a possession-type receiver for Houston. He knows how to run routes and get himself in the right positions to make plays. Shorts has had injury issues, but he is a valuable player. Keith Mumphery is an interesting piece of the puzzle. He played sparingly last season, seeing most of his time on kick return duty.
One would have to think that Houston will not keep six guys on the roster. Mumphery might be the odd man out here. He does provide decent return ability and can make some possession catches, but that may not be enough. It may come down to he and Shorts, so we’ll have to see how they battle it out in training camp.
No matter what happens, the Texans receivers, led by Deandre Hopkins, have the potential to be very exciting. The addition of Osweiler will, in theory, allow Houston to open up the passing game and hit on some big plays. I’m counting on these guys to bring a lot of excitement in 2016!
Header image based on “Sideline views before the Rams vs. Texans game 13 October 2013” by Karen (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)