The Texans used to have one of the ten best wide receiver groups in the NFL. DeAndre Hopkins could carry the entirety of Houston’s passing attack on his own, and whenever Will Fuller V was healthy, he could push it to the next level. The Texans found other avenues of receiving options as needed.
Those days are gone. The Texans’ expected pass catchers in 2021 are Nico Collins, Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, Randall Cobb, Chris Conley, Jordan Akins, and Brevin Jordan. Pro Football recently ranked the Texans wide receiver group as 32nd (last) in the entire NFL.
32. Houston Texans
The Texans roster overhaul will offer several players opportunities to contribute at receiver this season. Brandin Cooks returns as the top option, and he has graded at 80.0-plus in two out of the last three seasons. Cooks has legit speed, solid hands with only 29 career drops on 541 catchable passes and a history of efficient play in his seven years in the league.
Randall Cobb returns and remains a solid threat out of the slot, but he’s heading into his 11th year in the league and the Texans are in full rebuild mode. Donte Moncrief will get a shot on his fifth team in five years, but he hasn’t graded above 70.0 since 2016.
Rookie third-rounder Nico Collins will certainly get every opportunity to play after Houston gave up a massive haul to trade up for him. Collins adds a big, physical receiver that has been lacking since the departure of Deandre Hopkins. Keke Coutee is also vying for snaps, as his speed and quickness have been an asset when healthy, but he’s yet to play more than 338 snaps in a season during his three years in the league.
At tight end, Jordan Akins had a career year in 2020, grading at 71.8 overall and dropping just one pass. He’s the No. 1 option heading into the season. Ryan Izzo comes over from New England after posting a 52.0 grade last year. Fifth-rounder Brevin Jordan should also see the field on passing downs, as he’s a nifty route runner with after-the-catch ability.
Like the rest of the Houston roster, the receivers are a big unknown. There are a plethora of options, and they’ll need the emergence of new stars to move up the rankings by the end of the year.
None of this is surprising. Cooks is a good receiver, but he’s someone who will struggle playing with Tyrod Taylor instead of Deshaun Watson, because of his smaller hit box. Cobb is old. Coutee is still an unknown, as is Collins. Conley is a big slot receiver; he is perfectly fine. The tight ends have never been able to pull it together.
The skepticism is warranted.