In the past month, Texans writers, bloggers and fans have been living the high life when it comes to reviewing potential draftees. It’s been all DeAndre Hopkins, and possibly not enough of lesser name guys that could rise late in the first round, and land the Texans a diamond in what is certainly not a rough wide receiver market.
General manager Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak continue to push the offense forwards this offseason, in what’s been a tight cap year. For all of the talk about having a quiet free agency period, the Texans have signed resigned tackle Ryan Harris, and added fullback Greg Jones, while just managing to scrape the bottom of the money pile.
But through all of it, one thing has remained the same – a wide receiver will come on April 25. And if it’s not Hopkins, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey is a prospect worth taking a look at.
Stedman Bailey, wide receiver, West Virginia.
5’10, 193 pounds.
Bailey probably won’t wow people as much as Hopkins will in his rookie year, but there’s plenty of reasons why he could be a first round pick in April. The only problem is, people forget about him because of those other West Virginia players in this years draft – y’know, Geno Smith and Tavon Austin, so he falls short in the pecking order a little.
Still, all of this potentially bones well for the Texans though. The 27th pick is a flexible one, meaning Smith can grab someone like Bailey, who is probably an early second round pick in hindsight, draft him in the first round, and still be assured he’s gaining a top flight wide receiver.
At the combine Bailey impressed running a 4.52, but those kind of fun stats don’t matter here. What’s important is that he caught 25 touchdown passes last season, and is easily at the top of the list as far as first down receivers go. Bailey scored 788 of his 1,627-yards on first down in 2012, and even if that is a credit to Geno Smith’s spread of the ball, it means Bailey’s hands are reliable to set defenses astray early.
The only thing that might hold Bailey back is his height. 5’10 isn’t ideal for a wide receiver, with most corners averaging around the 5’11 mark. It’s not a huge knock since Andre Johnson is 6’3, but Bailey could struggle in the redzone against top flight NFL corners. Strength is also a mild issue here since Bailey only placed 11 reps on the bench press. He isn’t known for his run blocks, but his agility to stretch over his shoulders and reel in difficult balls makes up for any of that.
How Could He Help the Texans?
I’m not normally big on comparisons, but Bailey has drawn one with Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings. What this means to me is he isn’t the fastest, brightest star in the league, but he’ll get the job done quietly and dependably when the quarterback is looking for a target deep down the field or even on a short slant route.
The Texans won’t gain a receiver in Bailey that can turn a short catch into something much more. He does have the ability to break tackles, but instead, the Texans could add a receiver that is so focused on route running, and has the footwork to fool even the best defenders.
Bailey is short, and he doesn’t have a load of speed. And if Tavon Austin is still available by No.27, he’s obviously the better option.
But there’s a lot of success to come from Bailey too. He has punt return capabilities like most elites do, with 146-yards to his name last year. A good set of hands, and a small body that can probably produce to some extent in every game. It’s just a matter of whether Tavon Austin has outdone him once again by the time the Texans are up.
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