The coronation of Lovie Smith as new Texans head coach and Pep Hamilton as offensive coordinator is now over and it's time to get to WORK! The receiver group was a bright spot in 2021 and should make even more strides in 2022. Here's how that pass catching group shapes up as we head into this key offseason.
2021 Snap Usage - 1,066 total team offensive snaps in 2021
Players under contract for the 2022 season - 1,509
Players not under contract for the 2022 season - 1,099
Players released/waived/traded during the 2021 season - 96
Players under contract for the 2022 season, in order of snaps played in 2021:
Brandin Cooks - 831 snaps (78.0% of total) - 90 catches for 1,037 yards and six TD
The Truth. I saw teams try to take Cooks out of seemingly every single game with double coverage, rolled coverage, brackets and everything other coverage imaginable. None of it worked. Cooks was the bona fide number one option in the Texans offense, catching 90 passes in just 15.5 games (he missed the Chargers game due to COVID and the second half of the matchup with the Titans in week 18). The Texans have had two top notch, no doubt number one options in the passing game in their history (Dre, DeAndre); they now have a third in Cooks.
Nico Collins - 536 snaps (50.3% of total) - 33 catches for 446 yards and one TD
GM Nick Caserio made a bold move to trade back up into the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft to draft Collins, who had opted out of the 2020 season at Michigan. So, Nico came to Houston after not having played a game in over 18 months and stepped into the number two receiver spot fairly quickly. Unfortunately, an injury suffered against Cleveland cost him a month on IR and slowed that progress a bit. When healthy, he showed he has the makings of being an outstanding receiver in this league for a long time.
Phillip Dorsett - 77 snaps (7.2% of total) - six catches for 107 yards
The former first round pick started the year in Jacksonville and played a couple of games in Seattle before finding his way to the Texans practice squad in December. After one catch for nine yards against his former Seahawks' teammates, Dorsett made one of the key plays in a win over Jacksonville over in Duval County. The Jaguars brought the blitz and played zero coverage, meaning the blazing fast Dorsett was one-on-one on a slot fade route. That huge catch for a first down led to a key score in a big win. He had an even better catch the following week, making a diving, twisting circus catch that jump started the best offensive day of the year for the Texans. Unfortunately, he was injured later in the game which cost him the final two games of the 2021 season. He's made plenty of big catches in his career and signed a deal to stay with the Texans in 2022.
Jalen Camp - 65 snaps (6.1% of total) - no catches
I really liked Camp when I studied him for the 2021 Draft and hoped that he might find his way to Houston. Well, he did eventually and saw some playing time near the end of the season. He's a definite height, weight, speed specimen and he signed a futures contract in January to stay with the Texans.
Damon Hazleton - spent his rookie season on the Practice squad
Hazleton was with the Texans in training camp, waived at the end of camp, signed by Green Bay in August, waived in August and then re-signed to the Texans practice squad in October. In January, Hazelton signed a futures contract to ensure his presence in OTAs, minicamp and training camp for 2022.
Players NOT currently under contract for the 2022 season, in order of snaps played in 2021:
Chris Conley - 623 snaps (58.4% of total) - 22 catches for 323 yards and two TD
Conley provided a couple of truly outstanding moments in the 2021 season. He had a flea flicker touchdown reception against New England in Week 5, but his long touchdown catch against the Chargers right before the half was one of my favorite offensive plays of the year. He signed a one year contract for 2021, so he's an unrestricted free agent heading into the 2022 season.
Chris Moore - 240 snaps (22.5.% of total) - 21 for 227 yards and two TD
No true Texans fan will ever forget week five against the Patriots when Moore went OFF. He made one of the plays of the year which turned into a touchdown that gave the Texans a lead in the first half. Then, he caught a flea flicker touchdown later in the year against the Titans in week 18 that sparked a second half comeback. I've always been one of the charter members of the Chris Moore fan club but I never imagined that he would have over 20 catches in 2021. Like Conley, he was on a one year contract in 2021 so he's an unrestricted free agent heading into the 2022 season.
Danny Amendola - 191 snaps (17.9% of total) - 24 catches for 248 yards and three TD
At this point last year, there was never any inkling that Amendola would wear a Texans jersey, but Week 1 against Jacksonville, Amendola snagged five passes for 34 yards and one touchdown…as a Texan. He then saved his best for last in week 18 as he snared seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns as the Texans roared back and nearly upset the Titans. After the game, Amendola was asked about his future and whether he'd want to continue playing. He said he wanted to heal up and take some time to figure it all out. If week 18 was his swan song, he went out at his absolute best. If not, he does have some good football left for certain.
Jordan Veasy - 24 snaps (2.3% of total) - no catches
Veasy's trek to the NFL is, well, indescribable. I got the condensed version one day when we chatted after a training camp practice and I became a huge fan in the ten minutes it took to walk back over to the locker room. He didn't see any targets in 2021 but he was active for a couple of games late in the season.
Davion Davis - 21 snaps (2.0% of total) - one catch for 17 yards
Having called many of Davis's games at Sam Houston, I always wanted the young man to be a Texan. So, when he signed in Houston, I was pumped. He worked his tail off to find his way onto the 46-man game day roster and then when he got his chance to get on the field, he made one seventeen yard, first down catch but was lost for the season after injuring his leg on the tackle. He was placed on IR, just when he was finally getting an opportunity and seeing some targets. He's lightning quick, explosive and twitchy. I always thought he had an NFL future when I was calling his Bearkat games and hopefully that does continue in Houston. He's an exclusive right free agent (ERFA) heading into 2022.
The Future - Top Prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft:
Treylon Burks, Arkansas (6-3, 225 lb.)
Chris Olave, Ohio State (6-1, 185 lb.)
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State (6-0, 193 lb.)
George Pickens, Georgia (6-3, 199 lb.)
Drake London, USC (6-5, 210 lb.)
Jameson Williams, Alabama (Ohio State) (6-2, 188 lb.)
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (6-3, 195 lb.)
David Bell, Purdue (6-2, 205 lb.)
Christian Watson, North Dakota State (6-4, 211 lb.)
Jahan Dotson, Penn State (5-11, 184 lb.)
Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky (Nebraska) (5-11, 185 lb.)
Khalil Shakir, Boise State (6-0, 193 lb.)
Calvin Austin III, Memphis (5-7 ⅜, 173 lb.)
John Metchie III, Alabama (6-0, 195 lb.)