Can Nico Collins be the next great Texans wide receiver?
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans were without first and second round selections, and they ended up selecting quarterback Davis Mills from Stanford with their third round pick, due to the unsure future of former franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.
That was the perfect choice for general manager Nick Caserio because he is now the obvious starter. After selecting Mills, the Texans did something unexpected again, as they traded up and selected a wide receiver from Michigan, Nico Collins — who showed out at the Senior Bowl — but seemed to be forgotten due to the pandemic and skipping his final season in college.
Trading up to select Collins with the 89th pick was surprising, but Caserio seemed ecstatic about the selection. There were moments throughout the season where fans questioned if choosing Collins was right, but later in the season, it was clear that Caserio knew what he was doing and made the best choice for the future.
Collins entered the NFL after opting out of his final season at Michigan, preparing for the NFL Draft. It was obvious Collins was the clear-cut number one receiving option on Michigan’s offense, but his college production was minimal because of poor quarterback play at UM. Collins is 6’4″ and 215 pounds, and he ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, but he didn’t receive the love other receivers had, even with his freak athletic measurements.
Texans: Collins played for Pep Hamilton at Michigan
Collins played for current Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton while at Michigan too, so it was apparent that Hamilton was a big part of why the Texans selected the wide receiver as they saw something special.
The first year with the Texans for Collins started slow. Collins got little attention in the offense until Week 6 of the season. The quarterback situation was a head-scratcher as the Texans didn’t want to start their rookie.
Veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor began the season as the starter, then Mills took over when Taylor suffered an injury. Taylor returned and struggled, and Mills was had a second chance as a starter, and that’s when Collins showed his talent.
Collins had a few showings that stood out. He had five receptions for 69 yards against the Seahawks and finished the season in Week 18 with 67 receiving yards against the Titans. Collins only had one touchdown last season, and if you only looked at the stats, you would see a mediocre player, but the tape showed something different.
Collins is enormous with the ability to leap over any defender, the speed to get separation, and the catch radius of Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com said the following about the wide receiver Collins:
"“What I like about Nico is he is an outstanding 50-50 ball winner. If it is a jump ball or contested catch, he comes down with it. We have seen flashes of that, and we have seen him use his size.”"
Collins has all the gifts that any receiver would hope to have. Texans fans may immediately think of Andre Johnson as their big, physical receiver, potentially the best player for the organization. Collins has the physical attributes to be the next big receiver for the Texans, and he is opening eyes in OTA’s, especially his chemistry with Mills.
Davis Mills recently talked about his excitement to work with Collins, stating:
"“He’s (Collins) been great,” Mills said. “Really good grasp of this offense. He ran a similar offense with Pep Hamilton at Michigan, so he has a good feel for some of the things we’re trying to do. His talent is off the charts. We’ve just got to find ways to get him the ball.”"
Collins will not be the number one receiver for the Texans this season, but that could change in the future. Veteran Brandin Cooks is the number one option and has been elite for the entirety of his career. Cooks is the perfect leader for Collins to learn from being around.
We have yet to see rookie wide receiver John Metchie — the receiver drafted from Alabama in 2022 — play in a pro game, but the trio could surprise some people this year.
Can Collins be the next great Texans wide receiver? It’s way too early to tell, but he has all the gifts to be exceptional in this league.