The Texans fortified their receiving corps led by DeAndre Hopkins, adding Notre Dame wideout Will Fuller with the 21st overall pick in the NFL Draft. On Thursday night, head coach Bill O'Brien discussed his plans for the rookie.
"Will will come in and start on the outside, but he does a number of different things," O'Brien said. "He'll start off as an outside receiver, but as he learns and he gets better every day, we'll begin to move him around and do different things with him."
Fuller's experience at Notre Dame may have been the best training for his NFL transition. According to O'Brien, the Fighting Irish offense had similarities in what the Texans expected of their wide receivers. Fuller ran a lot of routes, not unlike the Texans, and that convinced both O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith that the rookie would fit in Houston.
Even Fuller's head coach at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly agrees.
"I saw a lot of Jaelen Strong," Kelly said in an interview with Texans TV. "We played Arizona State back-to-back years and to have a big physical guy like that with DeAndre and Will Fuller, that is a dynamite trio offensively. No obviously, you've gotta get the ball out to them. You've got have a quarterback that is efficient in getting it to them. But Bill O'Brien, that's what he's made his career on, is developing a quarterback. So that shouldn't be a concern. He's got the weapons now. The offense is going to be pretty prolific as the years move on."
Fuller also ran the fastest 40-yard dash of all the wide receivers at this year's NFL Combine, clocking an impressive 4.32. He has the potential for big plays with his blazing speed and ability to gain separation from defensive backs.
"I think one of the things that we looked at definitely was his ability to be a vertical threat," O'Brien said. "I think his career average per catch is 17 yards per catch I think it is, which is really good when you think about playing three years in college. I think one of the things he does well is he tracks the deep ball very well. He makes over the shoulder catches, he tracks the deep ball very well, so that was definitely one of the things that we liked about him."
With Hopkins entering his fourth season, the Texans hope that Fuller can emerge as another playmaker to complement the Pro Bowl wide receiver.
"We feel good about the diversity at that position now," O'Brien said. "Obviously with DeAndre Hopkins, 111 catches, all the things that he can do on the outside, on the inside, being able to move him around and how much better he's gotten every year. He allows us to be able to go out there and go get a guy like this."
See photos from Will Fuller's career at Notre Dame and Houston Texans.