Every so often it happens that the Texans sign a draft crush of mine. Back in 2011, I wasn't really certain what position was in Randall Cobb's future, but I was more than happy to find out. He ended up in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers and caught 470 passes over the next eight seasons, including a touchdown reception and seven catches for 102 yards against the Texans in 2016 and 2012, respectively.
He spent the 2019 season with the Dallas Cowboys and perhaps opened a few eyes with one telling number: 15.1.
That was Cobb's yards per catch average for his 55 catches in Dallas, the highest average in his nine-year career. In his years in Green Bay, he was the consummate slot receiver and I'd imagine that he's going to do plenty in the slot/inside in Houston. However, Dallas showed that he could be more than just a slot receiver, he stretched defenses down the field and expanded his route repertoire alongside receivers Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper.
When you're talking about a receiver nearing his 30s, the main question becomes how much juice is left in the tank? Watching Cobb last year, it appeared that the tank is far from empty. Putting the two concepts together - slot receiver route expansion and plenty of juice in the tank - Cobb showed what he's capable of against the defensively potent Minnesota Vikings.
The Cowboys faced the Vikings in a key NFC battle in Week 10 and trailed 14-7. They came out in 11 personnel (one running back/one tight end), but flexed running back Zeke Elliott and tight end Blake Jarwin out into the formation, leaving quarterback Dak Prescott alone in the shotgun (empty formation). Cobb was the #2 receiver to Prescott's right.
Once Prescott came to the line of scrimmage, he expected the Vikings to be in some sort of man/post safety coverage. Regardless, Dak REALLY liked Cobb in his matchup in the slot. So, Dak went to the line of scrimmage and changed the play to take advantage of Cobb's matchup.
As the ball was snapped, the coverage turned into a true cover zero - man to man coverage with NO safety help in the middle of the field. Cobb immediately knew he was going to be THE man on this route - a slot fade/seam go.
Cobb knew that there was no help down the field for the Vikings nickel corner Mackensie Alexander as he sprinted up the field.
How quickly did Cobb know? Take a look at the next image. He wasn't ten yards down the field and he threw up his hand to let Prescott know he was open. Thing is, at this point, he didn't really look open. The video shows otherwise. It was pretty clear that he was going by that corner in a hurry. Regardless, he knew...hence the hand to signify the thought that he was open.
Prescott saw the same thing and launched for the end zone as Cobb extended a step or two beyond Alexander.
As the ball neared Cobb, he made a tremendous catch a few inches from the ground for the game-tying touchdown.
The still shots may not truly display the burst he showed to stack Alexander in space, but wow, he turned on the jets to get down the seam for the game tying touchdown.
The man still has it and that was similarly evident against the Eagles later in the year. Early in the game, he lined up in a bunch set on a third and three and ran immediately to the flat...and then wheeled up the sideline. He completely ran by flailing Eagles nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox. And, when I say "ran by" I mean, he left Maddox yards behind him. Prescott dialed into the other side of the field and missed a wide open Cobb. The point, though, was proven. Nearing 30, Cobb's still a threat anywhere on the field and could be a fun weapon in this Deshaun Watson-led offense.