Houston Texans Looking Ahead To the 2012 Wide Receiver Draft Class?

The Houston Texans have been awaiting an explosive playmaker that will help to dictate single coverage to Andre Johnson’s side of the field for some time now.

While Kevin Walter is one of the more sure handed receivers in the game, after the catch everyone in Houston knows Walter is going to be tackled almost immediately and is not going to break any tackles for a 50+ yard touchdown.

Jacoby Jones had a chance to finally step-up this season after Walter’s shoulder injury only to injure a knee while celebrating during a touchdown by someone other than himself. Jones is questionable for the match-up agaisnt the Saints.

The Texans were so thin and desperate at wide receiver that they signed former first round pick Bryant Johnson and re-signed David Anderson after releasing him early on during the preseason.  

Some will argue that the Texans do not need another threat opposite Andre Johnson because the team has a great option at the tight end position with Owen Daniels finally back to form after an knee injury in 2009. But three weeks into the NFL season the Houston Texans have scored five offensive touchdowns. Andre Johnson has visited the endzone two times on the season and is the only wide receiver to have done so. Tight end Owen Daniels  also has two touchdown catches, adding ammunition to those proponents of Daniels.

While we absolutely love Daniels we do not believe the tight end is such the weapon that the Texans should not make drafting a top wide receiver, from the 2012 class of college players, a top priority.

The Texans had not been in a situation this season that dictated the need of a Houston wide recevier other than Johnson to step up and play big until Sunday’s game in the Superdome.  Is there even one on the team other than the pass catching tight end Daniels? Or what about Jacoby Jones with his special team game breaking abilities? Jones’ ability on special teams has rarely carried over to the offensive side of the ball especially during crunch time, which the Texans haven’t been faced with up to this point of the season.

Will the lack of quality depth at the position, and having a big time play maker after Johnson and Daniels, will continue to catch up with the Texans at other times this year? We hope not but if the Texans eventually make the playoffs as many expect them to finally do this season, Houston will face defensive schemes by defensive minded coaches who will game plan to take Andre Johnson out of the game. What then?

The Texans fell behind Sunday and needed to play catch up. The defensive coverage rolled the safety over the top of Johnson in an attempt to take number eighty out of the equation and succeeded. Which wide receiver stepped up? What player came through? 

The tight ends and H-back came through more times than the secondary wide receiver on the team.  

Last season’s 51 catch, below average performance by definition, for Kevin Walter was somewhat lackluster considering a starting wide receiver must be able to take advantage of defenses that focus on teammate Andre Johnson. The second-choice receiver must be able to beat single coverage on a consistent basis. Jacoby Jones 51 catch season a year ago was considered breakout by many and the same many feel like Jones should get his chance this year to start opposite Johnson on a consistent basis, well the time was now for Jones but with Walter back from a shoulder injury it looks like more of the same game plan from last year with the number two wide receiver spot.

In Sunday’s contest against New Orleans Matt Schaub targetted Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter a total of 4 times all game. One of those targets resulted in an immaculate reception type catch made by Houston’s Kevin Walter for a touchdown. The pass wasn’t originally intended for Walter but ended up in Walter’s hands nonetheless resulting in a touchdown.

Between Owen Daniels, James Casey and Joel Dressen Matt Schaub looked their way a total of 18 times all game and looked Casey’s way far more often than Jones and Walter combined.

Is the Texans’ wide receiving corps holding them back from taking the next step towards being an elite offense? Other than Andre Johnson we believe so.  

While it is still early on in the season we take a look at a few of the top wide receivers in the class of college players for 2012 that could be nice additions to the Texans receiving corps and a perfect complement to pro bowl wide out Andre Johnson in given time.

Just up the road from Houston in College Station there is a big kid by the name of Jeff Fuller who is quite the physical specimen on the field. Fuller plays as big as he is physically. Standing  6’4″ tall and weighing in at 220 lbs. Fuller recently broke Terrence Murphy’s all time Texas A&M record for receptions and still has the rest of the season to play. Jeff Fuller easily posseses first round potential.

 Like Fuller, another first round candidate that is also from the Big XII is Oklahoma State receiving threat Justin Blackmon. Saturday Blackmon and Fuller both lead their respected teams against one another in a match-up of number seven versus number eight in front of a national audience. The match-up between the two teams and even more so the battle within the battle between the two future first round draft picks lived up to everything it was billed to be.

Blackmon, who is a bit smaller in height than Fuller stands 6’1″, finished the contest with 121 yards on 11 receptions also snagging one touchdown and should have had a second touchdown if not for a embarrassing goal line fumble which resulted in an Texas A&M touchback. One negative to Blackmon’s game is the perception that the young wide out is a bit of a diva but, “Hey!” the wide receiver position is synonymous with the diva term.  

Moving along and over to the SEC conference. Another beast of a wide receiver and quite possibly one with top five draft pick potential but quietly has been having a subpar season due to the strong run game of South Carolina and not much of a passing threat at the quarterback position. Alshon Jeffery could easily be the best wide receiver in the draft this year and most tend to agree. Jeffery averages 17.1 yards a catch over his college career and has already announced his intention of entering the 2012 NFL after this year’s college football season is over. The college junior weighs in at a whooping 229 lbs and towers a nice 6’4″ creating a sizeable mismatch even at the NFL level. Jeffery accelerates to full speed in the blink of an eye and has a knack for adjusting well to the ball once he has left his feet in order to go up for a catch.

Last but certainly not least Michael Floyd the Notre Dame wide receiver that was almost forced to enter into the NFL supplemental draft last year due to a third run in with the law last season all in which involved alcohol. Michael Floyd is a very smooth and fluid athlete who has good balance and body control, which he shows off by consistently running sharp and precise routes but will have to his off-field issues are a thing of the past. Floyd had twelve touchdowns last season and already has 31 receptions on the season but was almost non-existent Saturday in the game against Pittsburgh.

There you have it fans. A glimpse of a few of the top names at what will be one of the Texans most pressing needs going into next years draft. As I mentioned earlier, some will not agree with our take on the issue at wide receiver and some will agree completely but both sides need to also remember that Andre Johnson is not getting any younger. Johnson will be 31 years old by the time next season starts. How long will Johnson play is really anyone’s guess but getting a young wide receiver with top talent into the organization now in order to learn from the perennial pro-bowler is vital to the Houston Texans longevity at the position.  

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Tags: AFC South Alshon Jeffery Andre Johnson Bryant Johnson David Anderson Jacoby Jones Jeff Fuller Justin Blackmon Michael Floyd NFL Owen Daniels Texans

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