Houston Texans’ receiving room has become the infirmary in the past few weeks as a drumroll of injuries has subdued an otherwise promising campaign from the assembled wide receivers. There was a noticeable difference in the offense’s pace, crispness, and downfield threat the past two weeks without many of the top receivers. With Tank Dell out indefinitely, Nico Collins and Noah Brown questionable, rookie receiver Xavier Hutchinson is thrusted into a starting role in an all-important AFC South matchup.
Hutchinson’s has spent the majority of his rookie year on the bench as a rotational piece and deep-playbook wrinkle. He has been featured several times in the run game on end-arounds, but with the mounting injuries the receiver is being asked to step into the a more standard role in the offense.
At 6’3”, Hutchinson is a massive target with good hands and smooth demeanor with his routes. First and foremost, his positioning is his greatest attribute as a pass catcher. His speed is middling, but he has a knack for finding open space down the sideline and in soft spots of the defense.
The Texans drafted former Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson in the sixth-round of the 2023 NFL Draft and the rookie has been showing off his impressive skillset throughout the start of Texans organized training activities.
Hutchinson was productive in college and his talent should translate nicely to the league. Hutchinson will have to work his way up to receive any sort of playing time, but based on what some teammates are saying about the rookie, he could become a consistent playmaker for the Houston Texans.
Thus far, Hutchinson has only four catches to his name this season; three of which have occurred in the past two games. Hutchinson most naturally fills in for Nico Collins role of possession based receiving down the sideline against tight coverage. While he was never a touchdown machine at Iowa State (most TDs he accumulated was six in a season), his big body and catch radius project to a tangible red zone target and third down asset. Thing the Texans desperately need to turn the offense around.
As Texans’ fans have seen with the C.J. Stroud-Tank Dell connection, the team’s QB is all about familiarity and trust. As a true second-string option, Hutchinson has yet to develop the mojo or handshakes Stroud requires to throw him the ball. There won’t be a better opportunity than the back half of this season for the rookie sixth round pick to wedge himself into this offense and become an indispensable asset to the team.