The 2023 NFL Preseason is over and the Houston Texans have named rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud as the week one starter against the Baltimore Ravens. For anyone paying attention, Stroud is a master at ball placement, with excellent touch and the best passing accuracy the H-Town receivers have seen in years, if not ever.
Does that mean the Texans passing game is an automatic strength for a rising team?
The current projected receiver depth chart looks something like this:
WR1 - Robert Woods
WR2 - Nico Collins
WR3 - Noah Brown
WR4 - Tank Dell
WR5 - John Metchie III
WR6 - Xavier Hutchinson
Now, Houston general manager Nick Caserio and head coach Demeco Ryans have a big day ahead today, with final 53-man roster cuts due by 3pm HTT (H-Town Time) today. So, this list may change.
Will Noah Brown stick? Could Xavier Hutchinson survive the waiver wire to land on the practice squad? Do Caserio and Ryans believe John Metchie is “back” enough to endure the rigors of a full NFL season?
While we don’t know the answers to those questions at the time of this writing, we will know some of them within 24 hours.
For now, however, let’s look at what Stroud currently has to work with:
Brought in to be the guy. Woods is who he is at this stage of his career. Odds are he isn’t going to elevate to Andre Johnson level, but he should offer a reliable receiving option for Stroud when the Texans need the meat and potatoes west coast offense completions.
3rd and 7— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 19, 2023
ball on the facemask
That's where CJ Stroud shined at Ohio State
to Robert Woods pic.twitter.com/F4SPm15GtT
Looking again at the deep shot from Stroud to Nico, and looking at the separation numbers and expected completion percentage.— TexansCap (@TexansCap) August 28, 2023
Still a heck of a throw. And still a heck of a play by the DB.
Beautiful over the shoulder throw by CJ Stroud to Nico Collins. He just couldn’t hold on. Good play by the defender. pic.twitter.com/oVwJYp0tTn— V̷a̷t̷o̷r̷ (@VatorSports) August 28, 2023
On the deep throw, it’s easy to say Andre Johnson would have caught that. But, as Texans Cap and Vator point out in the Tweets above, it was excellent coverage work by the defender. And no quarterback/receiver tandem completes every pass.
Houston Texans player of the game: Xavier Hutchinson— Drew (@IndepthTexans) August 28, 2023
Week 1 pic.twitter.com/UFFUO8inso
I have high hopes for Hutch. However, I’ve also seen him drop a few that should have been auto-caught. His rookie-ness clearly gives Collins an edge on him, as it does with Woods and Brown.
John Metchie III
The former Alabama Crimson Tide pass catcher has a ton of potential, but so far it’s not materialized. Obviously last year should never put a black mark on his record due to his leukemia diagnosis. And, the fact that he beat cancer proves what a fighter this guy is. How can you not root for this dude? But, not dressing for the final preseason game just might be a sign Metchie may get a visit from the Turk. Or possibly find himself in IR-stashland...
It would be a travesty for Metchie to not make the roster though.
C.J. Stroud finds Noah Brown on the run for the Buckeye-to-Buckeye connection. pic.twitter.com/ptgMGmoHne— Eleven Warriors (@11W) August 19, 2023
Brown was brought in to give the receiver room a veteran presence. However, he might find himself conversing with the Turk as well.
Once that is Tank in the slot instead of Noah Brown we gonna be cooking pic.twitter.com/KmAFAAnjed— Jacob (@Stroud4ROTY) August 20, 2023
We talked about Dell yesterday. This guy has the potential to be a superstar in this league. Let’s hope he’s given the chance to do just that.
Based on this group, it’s easy to believe Brown could miss the final 53. It’s also easy to believe Dell, Metchie and Hutchinson have the potential to develop from really good to great. Especially with an accurate passer firing the ball their way on game day.
However, none of them are great just yet.
Which young receiver garners the most faith from you?