Now that the dust has settled on the NFL Draft craziness and the first few days of undrafted free agent signings has passed, it’s a great time to take a deep dive into the college tape of the new members of the 2021 Houston Texans. What did the Nick Caserio and Co. see? What are these players capable of? Can we expect to see them on the field in 2021? Was this the best player on the board when Houston signed them? Is Houston a significantly better football team now that the draft has concluded? These are the questions to answer.
In this article, I’ve included an overview of each player, the notes I took while watching their tape and reading about them, and my overall opinion of how they’ll fit on the 2021 roster. Here are my reviews of every player the Texans signed after the 2021 NFL Draft:
Ryan McCollum, C, Texas A&M
Height: 6’ 5”
Weight: 300 lbs
Arms: 33 5/8”
Hands: 10 1/4“
40 Yd Dash: 5.30
Vertical Jump: 29 1/2”
Broad Jump: 8’02”
3-Cone Drill: 7.71
Bench Reps: 20
- Experience at both guard positions, then becoming the starting center in 2020.
- Decent fundamental blocking and a nice punch.
- Can follow twists and moves while keeping his feet square.
- Undersized for the position for the NFL.
- Completely unreliable blocker when on an island, whether it’s pass protection or run blocking.
- Easily gets bull rushed by stronger/heavier defensive linemen.
The Texas A&M offensive line was potentially the best line in college football last year. There were plenty of great players on that team, but Ryan McCollum is not one of them.
He has the fundamentals down. He keeps his legs squared, does an okay job of mirroring his opponent and not giving in, and has decent hands. But, similar to Roy Lopez, he’s just simply undersized for the NFL. He was already struggling in college when he was one-on-one and was inconsistent enough to go undrafted, pair that with NFL-caliber defensive tackles and you have a recipe for disaster. McCollum looked fine in college because of the quality players he was surrounded by, but his weaknesses were laid bare when they moved a few desks away and he wasn’t able to copy off their answer sheet, anymore.
If he gets much bigger and stronger and improves his fundamentals, he can be a backup center. If not, he probably won’t make the roster in 2021.
Carson Green, OT, Texas A&M
Height: 6’ 6”
Weight: 320 lbs
Arms: 34 1/2”
Hands: 10 1/2”
40 Yd Dash: 5.33
Vertical Jump: 29 1/2”
Broad Jump: 9’00”
3-Cone Drill: 7.08
Bench Reps: 23
- Reliable starter for nearly four full seasons at right tackle.
- Shows the ability to handle several different kinds of pressures and stunts.
- Quick hands and stays square.
- Good hand placement.
- Mirrors his opponent.
- Can recover from mistakes quickly, often regaining leverage when getting bull-rushed.
- Has several games where he locks down his side of the line, opening holes in the run game and keeping his quarterback clean in the pass game.
- Bends his waist too much.
- Inconsistent in all facets of his game.
- Will need to improve upper body strength to make it in the NFL.
- Not an athlete, and can be beaten with speed.
- Could not be a swing tackle unless movement is significantly improved.
Now, we’re talking! The more tape I watched of Carson Green, the more I fell in love with him. He’s still a little weak and can be beaten to the edge, but he was very reliable starting right tackle for the Aggies for nearly four years! He might not be able to be a tackle in the NFL, but guard is certainly in his future.
He got better and better as his career progressed, and his hands and initial quickness can handle a variety of rushers. He has a deep understanding of how to deal with pass rush and uses his punches to slow opponents down and then reel them in with perfect hand placement. He’s not even that bad of an athlete, just not good enough to be reliable in space in the NFL.
If he gets stronger, gets a bit better in both run blocking and pass blocking, and can pick up some speed along the way, he’s a starting guard in the NFL. I really do think that’s possible, he’s a really good player. If not, he’s likely a backup guard or center with a high likelihood to make the final roster. The Texans found something promising in Carson Green.
Marlon Williams, WR, UCF
- Got better and better each year in college, culminating in a fantastic 2020 season.
- Great size and strength.
- Very productive receiver that uses his size and footwork to get separation.
- Fast feet for such a big target.
- Uses his body to his advantage after the catch.
- Not very fast at all.
- Not quick or sudden, requires space to pick up speed.
- Is capable of gaining separation, but can’t maintain it.
- Hands aren’t great.
- Route running is all over the place. Not good at cutting or sudden movements.
- Not fast enough for the outside, not sudden enough for the slot.
Another interesting player that I’m surprised went undrafted given his production. Marlon Williams is a freak athlete that has smoother feet and route running than a receiver of his size normally has, and often finds the soft spot in zone coverage to get chunk plays. It’s like he has a raw instinct for finding the exact right spot to be to be open for his quarterback, and frequently uses his frame and strength to fend away defenders at the catch.
What’s best about him, though, is his abilities after the catch. He’s a violent runner, and rarely goes down after first contact. He gets the football a lot because he’s usually open, and he always gets a few more yards than expected. But, his major weakness is his height and his speed.
He’s big, but he’s not tall, meaning all that fighting may be for not against bigger cornerbacks that will be able to fight him at contact and outrun him, as well. He has a habit of dropping the ball, as well. Williams is basically a worse version of Nico Collins all around, so it’s possible Nick Caserio thought it was worth giving him a chance to be a solid backup in an offense that suits their playstyles. I’m already thinking too far ahead, though.
If he gets bigger and stronger and is able to translate his instincts to the NFL, he has the chance to be a Julian Edelman for the Texans. If not, he’s a perennial backup or practice squad warrior.
Damon Hazelton, WR, Missouri
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 206 lbs
Arms: 33 3/8”
Hands: 9 7/8”
40 Yd Dash: 4.64
Vertical Jump: 37 1/2”
Broad Jump: 10’ 00”
3-Cone Drill: 7.11
2020 Stats: 8 Games, 30 Rec, 397 Yds, 13.2 Avg, 1 TD, 2 Rush Att, 3 Yds, 1.5 Avg
- Big body receiver with a big wingspan.
- Fights for the ball and wins contested catches with his size and jumping ability.
- Creates separation with his arms and always seems to find an opening when the ball is coming to him.
- Maybe a blocker.
- Often uses his catch radius to reel in the football and keep it away from defenders.
- Occasionally shows the ability to evade defenders after the catch and create open spaces down the field.
- Bad hands, drops the ball far too often.
- Not fast or sudden at all, will have difficulty creating any sort of vertical separation in the NFL.
- Not very physical at the catch point, something he would greatly benefit from with his size.
Hazelton might be a good red zone target, and that’s it. He’s not fast, he’s not quick, he makes it obvious where he’s going to opposing defenders, and he doesn’t use his frame to fight off defenders. The only thing he has going for him is his long arms and the brief moments he’s able to gain separation in tight coverage.
He’s good at using his length to create brief openings, and can snare the ball and keep it away from defenders like a bully keeping a classmate’s lunchbox just out of reach, but that’s all he’s capable of. His catching ability is subpar at best, and his game relies on that.
If he bulks up and starts using his body more during the catch, he can be an okay red zone target. If not, he’ll likely be released during training camp.
Are there any other good undrafted free agents that Houston could sign right now?
Well...there were. I liked QB Jamie Newman (signed with Eagles), RB Jaret Patterson (signed with Washington), WR Trevon Grimes (signed with Eagles), WR Sage Surratt (signed with Lions), TE Kenny Yeboah (signed with Jets), OL Drake Jackson (signed with Lions), LB Dylan Moses (signed with Jaguars), and S Paris Ford (signed with Rams), but they are now all off the market.
The best undrafted free agents that are still currently available are:
- CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina
- Josh Johnson, Louisiana-Monroe
- Damonte Coxie, Memphis
- Tyler Vaughns, USC
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN:
- Tristen Hoge, BYU
- Brett Heggie, Florida
- Jared Hocker, Texas A&M
- Olaijah Griffin, USC
Those are all the players that are left that I’ve watched or read anything about. Even then, it’s not enough to have a strong opinion on any of them. Regardless, the Texans have needs practically everywhere. We might as well aim for having 100 players signed, so I’d be happy to see any of these players get picked up by Nick Caserio and given a chance to land a roster spot, just to add a little extra spice to the offseason!
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