1. Player the Houston Texans wish had stayed in 2023: Brandin Cooks, WR
It's hard to make a case for wide receiver Brandin Cooks being underrated but he certainly doesn't get the praise he deserves. Although the former Oregon State Beaver isn't in the same echelon as the likes of Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill, he's been productive wherever he's been and maybe that's the thing.
Although Cooks was a first-round pick in 2014, he's had a rather nomadic NFL career, having suited up for four (soon to be five) different clubs. Back in 2020, the Texans acquired Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams not long after shipping DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Both trades raised eyebrows but at least Cooks came through in his first season in Houston, hauling in 81 receptions for 1,150 yards with six touchdowns.
The California native picked up where he left off in 2021 and went on to catch 90 passes for 1,037 yards with six touchdowns. The fact that Cook did his job in spite of the lack of direction the Texans were undergoing highlights how committed to his craft he is.
Having said that, everyone has their limits and Cook couldn't picture himself being part of yet another rebuild, which is why he wanted to get traded earlier this year. In the end, his request was granted and the Texans traded him to the Dallas Cowboys, where he'll catch passes from Dak Prescott.
The Texans are projected to pick a quarterback early in the draft and whoever gets the nod would have benefitted from Cook's presence in the lineup.