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2014 NFL Draft: Is Michael Campanaro The Answer At Slot Receiver For Bill O'Brien And The Texans?

All-ACC receiver Mike Campanaro might not be the biggest guy on the field, but he sure is one of the most dangerous. Could he be the elusive weapon that Bill O'Brien craves for the Texans?

Pointing toward Houston?
Pointing toward Houston?
Mike Ehrmann

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien recently said that he does not believe there is a true slot receiver on Houston’s current roster. Considering how often O’Brien’s offense relies on light, quick-footed threats to move the chains, that’s kind of a big deal. However, with so many other needs that have to be addressed at the top of the draft – outside linebacker, inside linebacker, quarterback, defensive end, nickel corner, and even safety, to name a few – getting that quicker-than-fast slot receiver might have to wait a few rounds.

Lucky enough for Houston, there are lots of options to choose from in an absolutely loaded wide receiver class. The draft has players available like Damian Copeland, Jalen Saunders, Josh Huff, Bruce Ellington, and Robert Herron, but the prospect that I think might have the best chance of being a Houston Texan in a month is Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro.

Campanaro, who fits the physical bill at a squatty 5’9", 192 pounds with nearly ten inch hands, turned heads at the combine with a 4.46 forty yard dash, 39" vertical, 10’2" broad jump, 4.01 shuttle, and 20 reps on the bench. It was easy to see the former Demon Deacon’s quickness on tape as he separated from virtually every defender he faced in man coverage and effortlessly found holes in zones, but seeing the tape backed up by these kinds of numbers inspires a certain confidence in what Campanaro can be at the next level. The Baltimore Sun reported that Campanaro has received third or fourth round grades from virtually every team in the league, and I am inclined to agree. If Rick Smith is sitting at the first pick of the fourth round and Michael Campanaro is on the board, do not be shocked if he becomes the third member in a triumvirate of destruction alongside Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins.

Campanaro has averaged eight receptions a game in his past two seasons. After watching half an hour of cutups on a whim, it’s easy to see why. He’s always open.

I dislike that Campanaro lets some balls into his body, that he has never played a full season in his career due to bumps and bruises, and that he is limited to exclusively playing inside, but he’s just so damn similar to the slippery slot receivers that O’Brien abused defenses with in New England that I cannot help but see him as a valuable commodity in Houston. Hell, Campanaro can even return punts if asked. It’s as if a younger, cheaper Julian Edelman has magically appeared before our eyes and shouted. "Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!"

What do you think, BRB? Would you be happy to add a slot weapon like Michael Campanaro at the top of the fourth round, or do you have other ideas?