Houston Texans: Breaking down loaded group of wide receivers

Houston Texans, Will Fuller (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Houston Texans, Will Fuller (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have a talented group of wide receivers for the upcoming 2020 NFL season.

The Houston Texans have a solid core of wide receivers heading into the 2020 NFL season despite trading All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. There was a lot of doubt regarding the position group heading into the offseason after trading Hopkins, but Texans dispelled those rumors by doubling down at the receiver position before the draft.

Houston Texans new look of wide receivers

The Houston Texans signed Randall Cobb to a three-year deal worth up to $27 million. Texans not only got a reliable slot receiver but a veteran presence in the locker room that has played well in his previous stops with the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Texans have long looked for a solution at the slot, and Cobb could be the answer with his ability to put pressure in the middle of the field on opposing defenses.

Cobb will hit the ground running with the offense after signing a deal that has 66 percent of his contract guaranteed. Cobb is entering the last years of his prime with the Texans at 29, but he showed no sign of slippage in his one year stint with the Cowboys by finishing with 55 receptions, 828 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. Cobb demonstrated he could be productive with another quarterback outside of Aaron Rodgers in Dallas, and it will be exciting to see him pair with Deshaun Watson in Houston.

The Houston Texans acquired Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams for the 57th overall pick of the 2020 draft. Cooks is another receiver Houston acquired in the offseason that fans should be excited about heading into next season. Moving into the draft without an outside veteran wide receiver was a red flag, but the Texans gave up their latest of their two second-round picks to land him, and Cooks will only be owed $8 million this season after the Rams already paid him  $4 million bonus that was owed to him before the trade.

Beyond this season, the Texans will have no guaranteed money left to pay Cooks if the pairing doesn’t work out. However, Cooks has been a very productive receiver since being drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has four 1,000 yard seasons in the six years he has been in league with three teams.

Cooks has been a sought-out receiver in the league due to his blistering speed that can strike fear in the hearts of any secondary. Now he will be paired with one of the offenses that love to throw the deep ball with Watson.

Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Cooks are three receivers that can threaten any defense downfield with their vertical speed. Stills had 55 receptions for 561 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions in his first year with the Texans. He had a short time to learn the offense as he was traded right before the start of the season with Laremy Tunsil from the Miami Dolphins.

The Texans got a lot faster at the position and are stacked with burning speed in case any of them miss time due to injuries. This isn’t to say that they are prone to injury, but the NFL is a brutally physical sport, so it’s a certainty that at least one of their top receivers will miss time next season.

The Texans have other intriguing receivers beyond the top four options of the roster. Houston selected Isaiah Coulter from Rhode Island in the fifth round that was stacked with talent in day three of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Coulter could have been drafted a lot higher in a weaker draft, but it isn’t all bad news for the rookie as he has the benefit of learning from the likes of Andre Johnson. Coulter could learn from Johnson, who formed part of the Texans staff last season and see how other talented veteran receivers prepare on the roster prepare for games.

Keke Coutee remains a player that could learn a lot from how Cobb operates in the slot. Coutee has shown flashes of talent to thrive in this league, but mental mistakes have led him to less playing time in his second season. Coutee’s time could be counted if he is unable to show any growth in his third year in the league.

DeAndre Carter was the benefactor of less playing time for Coutee as he stepped in as the slot receiver in the offense. However, Carter’s calling card on the team is his ability to field kicks on special teams, and he will have to demonstrate he can improve in that area of his game for him to remain on the roster.

Carter has six fumbles in his two years with the Texans and had a crucial fumble on a kick return against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional game of the playoffs that helped turn the momentum of the game to the Chiefs so they could come back to win the game.

Tyler Simmons is one of the players to watch on special teams heading into this preseason as he was the special teams’ returner with the Georgia Bulldogs in his senior season.

Simmons returned nine punts in his senior season for 143 yards and an average of 15.9 yards per return. If Simmons is looking to make an immediate impact, he will have to demonstrate he can play special teams early in his career.

Chad Hansen, Steven Mitchell, and Isaac Whitey are other options the Texans have kept on the practice squad in the past.  Although it’s difficult for them to see a lot of time on the field, they could make it difficult for the coaches with a productive preseason and training camp.

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Texans have a lot of talent on the roster, and it will be awesome to see Watson having the necessary targets to spread the football around next season.