As the Houston Texans get ready for the beginning of training camp on Aug. 1, many positions are still up for grabs. Today we take a look at the wide receiver position.
2016 Houston Texans Wide Receiver Projection
DeAndre Hopkins had a stellar year in 2015. The former Clemson standout had 111 receptions for 1,521 yards, both career highs. Hopkins surpassed his previous year’s receptions by nearly 40. He caught 11 touchdowns, nearly doubling his 2014 total of six. Hopkins won the starting nod last season, one season removed from the departure of future hall of famer Andre Johnson, after impressing coaches during camp last year. With the addition of young gun slinger Brock Osweiler this off-season look for Hopkins to have another stand out season. Fans may even see him as the AFC South receptions/yards leader at the end of the 2016 season.
Jaelen Strong made a splash last year as an energetic rookie, entering the league after being drafted out of Arizona State University. The former Sun Devil played in 10 games for the Texans last season. Strong got a few good looks during his rookie season, catching three touchdowns, while averaging 11.5 yards per catch. If Strong is able to have a strong (no pun intended) camp, look for him to be the number two receiver on the depth chart behind Hopkins.
Cecil Shorts III
Cecil Shorts III proved to be a very valuable slot receiver last season, his first with the Texans. The former receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars amassed 484 yards on 42 receptions, and two touchdowns. Shorts didn’t see a lot of plays outside of short yardage situations but he proved he could be counted on to help move the sticks or Houston. Expect Shorts to be the incumbent slot receiver, with rookies Braxton Miller and Nick Fuller looking to give him a run for his money.
Will Fuller is expected to compete for a starting role during his rookie season. The former Notre Dame Fighting Irish star was selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Fuller has elite acceleration to create easy separation vertically. He has good instincts when tracking the ball and can make plays along the sidelines. Fuller is also comfortable once he has the ball in his hands. He is able to change direction quickly without having to slow himself down. Look for Fuller to compete to be a third or fourth option at wideout behind Hopkins and Strong.
Braxton Miller may be the most recognized of the Texans 2016 draft picks. Miller was an outstanding quarterback while attending Ohio State University. Nothing changed when the former Buckeye made the switch to wide receiver after his junior year. He immediately checked boxes for weight, height and speed. Scouts have said that Miller’s hands are good, but his concentration is even better. He is a player who could see looks during the second half of the season and on special teams. Miller stands to learn a lot behind five year veteran Cecil Shorts III. If Miller is able to learn the offense quickly, and thoroughly, expect him to see plenty of looks late in the season.
The Texans seem to have a large bag from which to pull when it comes to the wide receiver position. They have another two or three players who could have easily made this list. Throughout the season, expect to see a lot of shake ups and mismatches with the plethora of wide outs head coach Bill O’Brien has to choose from.