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The Value of Things: Gaming the Wide Receivers

Do the Texans have enough receivers to go to war with?

NFL: MAR 02 Scouting Combline Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There seemed to be a general theme in the offseason that left a lot of fans dissatisfied. When you look at the Texans acquisitions in free agency they seemed to err on the side of running things back. Usually a 4-13 team doesn’t want to bring a lot of their own free agents back. After all, aren’t they the ones that were responsible for that 4-13 season in the first place?

The overall offensive numbers were shaky at best. The Texans led the known universe in punts, three and outs, DAL in yards, and next to last in yards per play. They were a mere 28th in passing yards and 24th in passing touchdowns. So, no one really can expect to look at the receiving core and think they are going to see anything special. So, bringing back the same guys won’t inspire the kind of confidence that anyone thinks it should. Yet, that is precisely what they did.

The club is making one substitution. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola is riding off into the sunset and is being replaced by second round pick John Metchie. Many said that Metchie would have been a first rounder if it weren’t for his ACL tear. He supposedly will be ready by the start of the season, but that remains to be seen. If you have been a regular reader you know how this thing goes. First, we take a look at the 2021 receivers. We’ll look at snap counts, overall PFF scores, and receiving grades.

2021 Receiver Room

Brandin Cooks— 831 snaps, 77.4 PFF, 77.3 Receiving

Chris Conley— 623 snaps, 60.5 PFF, 60.4 Receiving

Nico Collins— 383 snaps, 65.6 PFF, 65.1 Receiving

Chris Moore— 240 snaps, 68.3 PFF, 67.5 Receiving

Danny Amendola— 191 snaps, 63.1 PFF. 67.1 Receiving

Phillip Dorsett— 96 snaps, 62.9 PFF, 63.4 Receiving

Normally, 60 would be average, but that doesn’t appear to be the case when it comes to receivers. 115 wide receivers played enough snaps to officially qualify for the rankings amongst wide receivers. So, the midpoint is about at 57 or 58. Those wide receivers scored a 67.7 and 67.8. So, that would appear to be the average mark for wide receivers instead of 60.

So, the Texans managed to cobble together a decent room of receivers but outside of Brandin Cooks, none of them were particularly good. In one of the more peculiar moves during the season, they added Anthony Miller in a trade with the Bears and then cut him a few weeks later in favor of Amendola. Amendola was slightly better (Miller finished at 61.9) but he was never going to be great. Miller has impressive athletic traits that could translate someday. A team destined to pick in the top five picked mediocre production over modicum potential. That’s usually not a recipe for success.

2022 Wide Receiver Room

Brandin Cooks— 831 snaps, 77.4 PFF, 77.3 Receiving

Chris Conley— 623 snaps, 60.5 PFF, 60.4 Receiving

Nico Collins— 383 snaps, 65.6 PFF, 65.1 Receiving

Chris Moore— 240 snaps, 68.3 PFF, 67.5 Receiving

Phillip Dorsett— 96 snaps, 62.9 PFF, 63.4 Receiving

John Metchie— N/A

It would be easy to say that the key to the season will be the development of Metchie, but that is actually not really the case. The key is the development of Nico Collins. Deandre Hopkins jumped from 68.7 to 84.0 his second season in the league. Collins wasn’t quite as good as Hopkins as a rookie, but he wasn’t that far off. Even if he just jumps into Cooks territory then the receiving core could be one of the strongest units on the team.

Metchie comes in with a pedigree that predicts at least average performance. The Texans have never had a consistent threat at the slot position. Couple Metchie with Brevin Jordan in the middle and Davis Mills will have threats at multiple levels in the defense. No one is going to consider this group as good as the 1970s Steelers or Oilers of the run and shoot era, but this wide receiver group isn’t terrible either.

What’s Missing

This one is a whole matter of perspective. What exactly is Brandin Cooks? If you consider him to be a legitimate number one receiver in the league then the unit probably only needs a receiver that can take the top off the defense. They need a Will Fuller type. That could be a first round pick, but you could also add that guy via free agency and save the draft pick compensation.

If Cooks is really a really good number two receiver then you don’t have your stud. You ultimately hope that Collins can develop into a WR2 but he isn’t there yet and he isn’t likely to be better than that. Metchie could develop faster and could prove to be on that same level, but that would leave your team without that go to target in crunch situations.

Do you need one of those top 10 to 15 guys to be a title contender? That is probably another question for another day. We will have plenty of those days down the road, so stay tuned to this channel. Suffice it to say, wide receiver might not be the priority in next year’s draft, but for whatever reason we keep seeing these number one receivers made available via trade. It might be something to consider after this season.