As Houston Texans fans, everyone here knows the story at wide receiver as we sit in organized team activities.
Our tale starts with a guy named Andre Johnson, one of the league’s best receivers, who is hoping to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2011 season. Meanwhile Kevin Walter…is...hoping to do his Kevin Walter thing, which consists of blocking well, being an excellent mentor for younger receivers, and catching an occasional pass with his sure hands.
After spots one and two, head coach Gary Kubiak has a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ type of story. There’s Lestar Jean, Trindon Holliday, Juaquin Iglesias, and Jeff Maehl as returning "veterans"
who have never caught a pass in a NFL game. You’ve got Dwight Jones, Mario Louis, and Jarrell Jackson as undrafted free agents, and, of course, the two new drafted rookies in DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin.
There are questions, by some, about Houston being too young and too green at wide receiver. People ponder if the rookies can pick up the slack being left behind by Jacoby Jones and others. Can the Texans get enough production from the third and fourth receiver spots, which are up for grabs, or will it be an Achilles’ Heel?
If you had to put money on any of those other receivers making the final 53-man roster, you’d probably be wise to put it on the two drafted rookies. It’s rare that a team would immediately cut a third or fourth round rookie. Presuming they are who we think they are, what should fans expect from those two receivers? Not just expect, but what should fans consider a good season for Posey and Martin?
Hit the A button and see what we can gleam from history.
The cumulative average for those 42 players is a season of 19.2 receptions for 246 yards, and 1.2 touchdowns. This ranges from the high mark set by Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams, who started all 16 games and had a year of 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns, to the low mark held by New York’s Domenik Hixon, who also played in all 16 games and caught one pass for five yards.
Speaking of rookies who played full seasons, 10 more of those 42 receivers played in all 16 regular season games. The season average for those 12 jumps up to 32.7 receptions for 444.6 yards and 3.0 touchdowns.
For comparison's sake, since he’s the man being replaced, Jacoby Jones averaged 36.3 receptions for 503.7 yards and 3.7 touchdowns over the past three seasons. However, those numbers are a bit inflated, as he would start when Johnson or Walter missed any games. The youngster playing would, presumably, not be labeled as wide receiver 2.5, per Kubiak’s logic. The other 2.5 receiver, Walter, has averaged 47.7 receptions for 568.7 yards and 3.3 touchdowns over the past three seasons.
For the third receiver, presumably Posey in this instance, a good season would have him meeting those rookie standards for a full season of play. Averaged per game, Posey would have to catch two passes for 30 yards and a touchdown in every fifth game. That’s it. From there, Posey wouldn’t have to do much more to catch Jones’ numbers since Jacoby had roughly four more catches for 60 more yards and nearly one additional touchdown.
For the fourth receiver, presumably Martin, it’s a different set of expectations since he seems likely to be the team’s primary punt returner and possible kick returner. In this scenario, Martin likely would put up numbers similar to Jones’ rookie season--15 receptions for 149 yards, when he was also primarily used as a special teams returner. Those 15 receptions also aren't too far off from the 19.2 mid-round rookie average mentioned earlier.
If he stays healthy, Martin would exceed the rookie Jacoby’s baseline if he catches, at least, one pass for 10 yards in every game. That’s not a stretch either since Bryant Johnson and Derrick Mason, the 2011 combined fourth receiver, combined for 12 catches for 145 yards.
These are expectations that I deem realistic, by the low per-game averages, but it also serves as an explanation as to why bringing in a veteran receiver, and having him as one of the final 53, really doesn't have much payoff. Statistically, there isn't much difference between what veterans did in Houston's offense, last year or in the past three seasons, and what rookies have averaged. There also is the matter of upside, as rookies can develop and grow, often times over the course of a season, while most veterans, the realistic kind that can be brought into camp, would be on the decline.
All that said, are these realistic expectations to you? Should we expect more from Posey and Martin or even less? Am I presuming quite a bit that those two are the lead favorites for roster spots out of that muddled receiver pack? Do you feel a bit better with this statistical context and comparison? Let the comments bask in your infinite Texans wisdom, BRBers.