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Texans WR Draft Board

Posted Apr 30, 2014

A look at the Texans wide receiver draft board.

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READ: Quarterbacks
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2013 Wide Receiver/Tight End recap

Passing offense (15th) - 238.3 ypg
18 receiving TDs
Andre Johnson 109 receptions, 1,407 yards and five TD
Garrett Graham 49 receptions, 545 yards and five TD

Key offseason additions: TE Zach Potter (signed after spending 2013 with St. Louis)
Key offseason losses: TE Owen Daniels (signed with Baltimore)

UFA:  None
RFA:  None

Draft picks
1st (1)
2nd (33)
3rd (65)
4th (101)
4th (135 - Compensatory - pick cannot be moved)
5th (141)
6th (177)
6th (181 - from Oakland, in the Schaub deal, CAN be moved)
6th (211 - Compensatory - pick cannot be moved)
7th (216)
7th (256 - Compensatory - pick cannot be moved)

Wide Receiver depth chart
Andre Johnson
DeAndre Hopkins

DeVier Posey
Keshawn Martin

Alan Bonner
Mike Thomas
Andy Cruse
Uzoma Nwachukwu

There are good receiving duos in the NFL and then there are the ‘Dres - Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Johnson showed no signs of slowing down with another stellar season in a Hall of Fame career, while Hopkins provided a glimpse of immense potential with a 52 catch rookie season. Those two will be hallmarks in the passing game for as long as Johnson stays healthy. 

Slot receiver has been a staple in head coach Bill O’Brien’s offense for years and this offseason he noted that the team doesn’t particularly have a true slot receiver. Martin is the closest thing on the roster to a slot receiving weapon, while Bonner made some waves in training camp last year before getting injured and spending the entire season on IR. 

Martin has shown slight improvement over his two years in Houston, but not to the point where he’s cemented that slot receiver spot. Perhaps the coaching staff change will help him flourish; regardless, he can expect competition from Bonner and a rookie or two.

As such, expect the Texans to target a slot receiver on day three, perhaps a non-traditional sort like some that played for O’Brien in the past. Non-traditional? You’ll see, just read on.

Draft Options
1st - None
2nd - None
3rd - None
4th - Bruce Ellington - South Carolina, Robert Herron - Wyoming, Ryan Grant - Tulane
5th - Michael Campanaro - Wake Forest, Trey Burton - Florida, John Brown - Pittsburg State
6th - Kain Colter - Northwestern, Jalen Saunders - Oklahoma, Taylor Martinez - Nebraska, Jeremy Gallon - Michigan
7th - Josh Stewart - Oklahoma State, Isaiah Burse - Fresno State

UDFA - Albert Wilson - Georgia State

In my estimation, finding Ellington at the top of the fourth round is a pipe dream. The former basketball player placed his focus on football in 2013 and it was evident with his best season in Columbia. He is the consummate “big time players make big time plays in big games” star as he shined most late in games and in South Carolina’s biggest games. He is an excellent runner after the catch, can get open all over the field, makes key plays at big times and can return kicks, if necessary. For those reasons, he’s probably gone by pick 101, but for now, I’m keeping the dream alive.

Herron was a virtual unknown when he arrived in Mobile for the Senior Bowl but he left as one of the highlights of the week. He got open against everyone and caught everything, including a one handed grab during a Wednesday practice. He came from nothing in Los Angeles, fought for everything he’s ever gotten and went to Wyoming to free himself from his tough upbringing. Grant has moments of inconsistency catching the football but he’s smooth in and out of his breaks, runs good routes and possesses surprising speed.

Campanaro was often injured at Wake Forest and had to prove he belonged once fully healthy. He proved it and then some.  He followed his solid Senior Bowl week up with a strong combine performance. Ultimately, he might be the best route runner in this group with more than adequate speed and glue sticks for hands. 

But, will he stay healthy? Burton is a Swiss Army knife that played nearly every skill position on the field during his career at Florida, while Brown, a Division II star, can fly. Only two players were faster at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.  He’s slight but dynamic.

The sixth round options are as intriguing as any other round. Colter played quarterback, running back and wide receiver at Northwestern and had two strong days at the Senior Bowl playing in the slot before he decided to have surgery on his ankle. Saunders is a mighty mite with stop on the dime quickness and return skills. 

Mentioning Martinez is no accident and if you think I’ve lost my mind, remember the name Julian Edelman. They have a lot in common. Confident Californian. Blazing speed and quickness. Played quarterback at a midwestern university. Too good of a football player to not figure out something to do with him. 

That’s exactly what Bill Belichick told Edelman just after selecting him in the 2009 NFL Draft. Martinez is a bit more known by the masses than Edelman was in 2009, but, like Edleman, he’s not a quarterback and some team is going to have that same conversation Belichick and Edelman had - you’re too good, just get here and we’ll figure it out. For the Texans, that means turning Martinez into a full-time slot receiver, just like, well, you know.

Tight End depth chart
Garrett Graham
Ryan Griffin
Phillip Supernaw
Zach Potter

Long time star tight end Owen Daniels career as a Texan came to an end in the off-season, which made Graham's a priority.  With him returning and Griffin ready to take more responsibility as a second year player, the tight end position is in good shape. The addition of Potter gives the Texans a steady in-line blocker that allows Graham to stay as a move/h-back sort in this offense. It wouldn’t appear that tight end will be a high level priority and, perhaps, not in the draft game plan until middle of day three.

Draft Options
1st - None
2nd - None
3rd - None
4th - None
5th - Joe Don Duncan - Dixie State, Richard Rodgers - Cal
6th - Larry Webster - Bloomsburg, Marcel Jensen - Fresno State
7th - Jacob Pedersen - Wisconsin

UDFA - Ted Bolser - Indiana, Kaneakua Friel - BYU

Seriously, this is Houston, don’t we need a “Joe Don” on the roster?  If you’re wondering where Dixie State is, well, you’re not alone. Duncan’s game film was seemingly 1993 VHS tape quality but it didn’t need to be 1080p resolution for anyone to see him stand out like Big Foot in the land of the lilliputians. He’s got the size to be a solid in-line blocker but that part of his game needs work.  However, he’s a wonderful athlete for a man that size.

Rodgers can’t seemingly figure out whether he’s a tight end or a receiver and some teams will struggle with where to place him. But, O’Brien’s had tight end types like Rodgers before and no one knows how to take that athleticism and maximize it more than O’Brien.

I’ve said often throughout this entire draft process that the Texans, under O’Brien’s leadership, would value versatility and Webster is the epitome of versatility. Typically, tight end versatility refers to a guy's ability to play in-line as well as on the move. 

For Webster, it’s whether he plays tight end or defensive end/outside linebacker.  He played both in his career, practiced both at the Shrine Bowl but only played defensive end during the game itself.  Then, he chased quarterbacks all over the stadium.  He’s a 6-6, 258 stud with 4.58 speed that can play either tight end or on the defensive edge.  Again, draft him and figure it out.

Jensen is a blocker with questionable hands, while Pedersen is an average blocker with strong hands.  These two are polar opposites as players, yet intriguing late on day three.

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