The Texans will be going through three weeks of OTAs starting the week of May 23rd, continuing through a three day minicamp in mid-June. After the conclusion of that minicamp week, it's the Desert (i.e. no one in the building except me, Suds, Marcotte, Cookie and those rehabbing injuries), with Training Camp right around the corner. As such, I figured we should take a look at each position on the roster as it sits today, starting with the Wide Receiver Balance Sheet, if you will. Let's GO!!
Returning players from 2021 (in order of snaps played in 2021)
Brandin Cooks - 831 snaps (78.0% of total snaps) - 90 receptions 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 snaps) - 33 receptions 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 starting lineup fairly quickly. Unfortunately, an injury suffered against Cleveland in week two 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.
Chris Conley - 623 snaps (58.4% of total snaps) - 22 receptions 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 five, 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 snaps) - 21 receptions 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.
Phillip Dorsett - 77 snaps (7.2% of total snaps) - six receptions for 107 yards
The former first round pick started the 2021 season in Jacksonville, ended up in Seattle, played a couple of games for the Seahawks 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 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 against the Chargers, 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 snaps) - 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 signed a futures contract in January to stay with the Texans.
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 and hopefully healthy after missing the end of the season with an injury.
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.
The 2022 Veteran Addition
DaeSean Hamilton, formerly of the Denver Broncos - 23 receptions for 293 yards and two TD.
The Texans signed the former Broncos pass catcher back in March. When I saw Hamilton at the Senior Bowl in 2018, he completely dominated defensive backs with his pristine route running. He finished his three year stint with the Broncos catching 81 passes and five touchdowns in 46 games. He was just in a log jam of receivers in Denver so hopefully an opportunity emerges for him in Houston in 2022.
The 2022 Rookie Class
John Metchie III, Alabama (5-11 1/4, 187 lb.) - Round 2, #44 overall selection
Here was my Harris 100 scouting report on Metchie III
"(St. James School in Hagerstown, MD) Metchie III has a truly interesting background. He was born in Taiwan and lived there for five years before moving to Canada for the majority of his young life. When he reached high school years, he moved to St. James in Baltimore. He then transferred to The Peddie School in New Jersey for a prep school year before enrolling at Alabama as a true freshman in 2019. Metchie III is a physical dude who played mostly outside in his two years as a starter, but can transition inside when needed, tough and reliable anywhere in the passing game. He was overshadowed in 2021 by transfer Jameson Williams, but Metchie III does the little things that'll entice an NFL team for sure. I think of anyone in this draft class that could emulate Deebo Samuel (49ers/South Carolina), it might be a healthy Metchie III. I've struggled for two years trying to figure out what I'd do with him on my roster but when I saw him running routes from the slot against Florida in 2021, it hit me. He's not as big, strong or fast as Samuel but he's tough after the catch and showed the acumen to get loose against inside defenders as a slot WR. His recovery from the ACL tear that he had in the SEC Championship game is going to be key to his overall evaluation, but we've seen so many players come back fine from that surgery. As such, I could see a team getting him touches in the backfield in a pinch. Now, having an inside running IQ like Samuel is tough, shoot, even Samuel didn't know that he could run inside the way he does. But, it'll be interesting to see how a team utilizes Metchie III in the near future."
Now, the question with Metchie III is if/when we'll see him full-go on the field. He's been rehabbing since his injury in early December so hopefully we can see him make an impact during the 2022 season.
Johnny Johnson III, Oregon (5-11 7/8, 197 lb.) - UDFA
I've always been intrigued by west coast football for some reason and I can't tell you how many Ducks games I watched over the years. In nearly every single viewing, Johnson III made a play that caught my attention. I always thought he was bigger than his listed size, but seeing him up close at mini-camp, he's not short or small. He's put together very well. He runs precise routes and is competitive for the ball in the air. He missed the last four games of his 2021 season dealing with a lower body injury, which kept him off of draft radar screens for many. That said, when healthy, he was highly productive, especially so early in his career, when current Pro Bowl star QB Justin Herbert was the Ducks signal caller.
Drew Estrada, Baylor (6-0, 196 lb.) - UDFA
Estrada returned home (originally from Argyle, TX) to Texas for his final year of college football after starring in the Ivy League at Dartmouth for four years. He was a top 15 WR all-time at Dartmouth before deciding on Baylor for his final season in 2021. When he got to Baylor, he fit right in, starting five games for the 2021 Big 12 champions. He was third on the team with 367 receiving yards and fourth in receptions (30). He has jack-of-all-trades ability and some serious juice down the field. Dartmouth and Baylor both found a way to use him in different ways in the running game as well, given his slipperiness and open field running ability.