From January 28th to January 29th, the NFL hosted the HBCU Combine at the University of South Alabama. The event was done in partnership with the Senior Bowl, and the ultimate goal is to give HBCU players a better chance at making the NFL. Last season, there were zero HBCU alumni selected in the NFL Draft, and less than ten signed as undrafted free agents. This year, the numbers will hopefully be better. These are three HBCU prospects that could fit what the Texans are looking for since they need help with the roster at multiple positions.
Keenan Forbes, OL, Florida A&M
Forbes was viewed by many as a top performer at the Combine and should generate interest from multiple teams. However, the Texans shouldn’t be afraid to reach on Forbes, and there’s some history to back that up. In 2019, the team selected Tytus Howard with the 23rd overall pick, and he also played at an HBCU (Alabama State). While Forbes is listed as a guard, Howard has split time between guard and tackle. If Forbes can develop alongside a player like Howard, not only would it be a major factor in his growth on both a personal and professional level, it would also give Houston an advantage over the competitors who are also looking at him. Should Forbes end up in a Texans uniform, it would be a feel-good story for the rest of the NFL to look at and perhaps inspire more scouts to look at HBCU tape.
Dee Anderson, WR/TE, Alabama A&M
Dee Anderson was one of the top targets for quarterback Aqeel Glass in 2021 and had an outstanding campaign with the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. The team has Anderson listed as a wide receiver, measuring in at 6’6” and 220 lbs. However, the argument could be made that a switch to the tight end position is a real possibility at the next level (if Anderson were to gain a few more pounds). Anderson caught 12 touchdowns last season and had his best performance against Mississippi Valley State (7 receptions for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns). It was his third game of the year with three touchdowns, emphasizing his strong abilities in the red zone.
Even if Anderson isn’t always getting the yards or even catches compared to others at his position, it’s his size that starts to separate him from the rest. The Dallas native deserves his shot in the pros. With the Texans looking for a boost on offense, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in Anderson to see how he compares with both the tight end and receiver groups.
Zafir Kelly, CB, South Carolina State
Kelly is likely the least notable name of the three mentioned, but it doesn’t mean he lacks talent. South Carolina State beat Jackson State, a team that only had one loss on the season up to that point, in last years’ MEAC/SWAC Celebration Bowl. South Carolina State wouldn’t have been in that position without Kelly. Despite having a limited number of tackles, over 75% of them were solo in 2021. Additionally, he was becoming a turnover machine, racking up three interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery—this was a general theme throughout his collegiate career. Kelly could fly under the radar even in the HBCU world, but has done enough to warrant putting his name on this list.