Houston Texans Shake Up Wide Receiver Slot For 2015


“With the 70th pick in the NFL draft, the Houston Texans select Jaelen Strong, wide receiver, Arizona State University.”

These are words I was hoping to hear for the Texans going into the draft. Not particularly Jaelen Strong’s name, but hearing that the Texans picked a wide receiver was very important. With the departure of longtime Texan Andre Johnson this offseason, the wide receiver core is definitely getting a different look this year than it’s had in previous years. It’s important that this first year with the Johnson-less team doesn’t get off to a slow start.

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Strong should really be flattered to be a part of this transitioning phase with the Texans. He was no first round pick, but the Texans still traded up to get this young receiver, and sent away three picks to the New York Jets in order to do so.

Let me make something clear though: Jaelen Strong is no Andre Johnson. If you’re expecting this rookie to come in and put up thousand yard seasons right off the bat, your expectations are too high (Although he did it twice in college). I’m not saying Strong isn’t a good player. He was a great pick. But he’s just one moving piece of many in this transitioning year for the Texans’ wide receivers.

Take all their moves into consideration before the draft as well. They left up-and-coming wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on roster, but also brought in some new guys from free agency like Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington.

Shorts has shown promise, averaging over 10 yards per catch last year. While he’s no superstar, it’s clear he can be a contributor, especially with a little more work. Washington did even better, with over 16 yards per catch last season. It’s plenty clear that the Texans are aware of the void put in place by Johnson’s departure. He’s been in the league since 2006, but his age has not yet been an issue.

This all is very good. I’ve been worried in the past about the Texans’ neglect to the offense. Not only in everyday components, but also in the draft. The Texans, although still not using their first pick in the draft on offense, did end up using it to fill a void. And now, things could actually be better than they were when Johnson was around.

Think about it. When Johnson was around, the targets weren’t all that spread out. He was getting a majority of the catches, simply because no one else was able to do what Johnson could. He was targeted nearly 150 times last season, while Hopkins, arguably the second-best receiver, was targeted about 20 less times. Other than that, all other receivers still currently with the Texans were only targeted 13 times last season. Now, as the Texans go into a season of quarterback uncertainty, they’ve balanced out the wide receiver depth chart, and given whoever will be under center some great options.

Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer will be competing during training camp for the starting quarterback start, and to be honest, I don’t think either of these guys is all that developed yet. These guys need some help, and giving them a roster without enough weapons to throw to is not help by any means.

All in all, I’m glad to see the Texans realizing that they have a void where Johnson was. I’m also very happy to see that instead of going out and trying to find one player who can fill Johnson’s void, they now have a cast of players, and their talent is more spread out. I believe this could work very well for next season, especially given their quarterback situation.

Next: Grading The Texans' Draft