The final week of voluntary workouts got underway

11 observations from Texans OTAs

Photo by Edward Clarke

These are the 11 observations you need to know from the third week of the Texans OTA workouts.

Undrafted wideout battle

Tyron Johnson from Oklahoma State and Johnnie Dixon from Ohio State are fun to watch for different reasons. They both have a legit shot at the last wideout spot and are kind of fighting each other for it and kind of not. Texans wide receiver coach John Perry mentioned Johnson can play both outside spots while Dixon can work inside and outside.

They both have had their moments so far in camp. If I had to say one was ahead of the other I would look to Dixon being slightly ahead of Johnson due to the inside-outside ability. Johnson might have more eventual upside due to his height and physicality. They have been a fun watch.

The toughest tight end matchup on the Texans

Jordan Thomas won almost every rep against every type of defender he went against today in the passing drills. Thomas looks worlds different than last year from a movement standpoint. He's fluid and physical and his routes look a lot more solid. I am not sure there will be many defenders who can cover him without some trouble.

If his blocking is improved, he will be on the field a ton for the Texans. While he isn't the most experienced tight end currently on the roster he seems to be the most complete from a total production potential. He will be a fun watch this year if they development continues.

The "other" Jordan

Jordan Akins looks smooth. Texans tight ends coach Will Lawing said it is fun to coach a room with so many players with different talents and styles. Akins is another player who has done a lot to improve his body in the time from year one to year two.

Akins is very athletic, this isn't a surprise, but his receiving skills have smoothed out compared to last season's work. While he doesn't present a huge physical mismatch like Thomas does he won't be an easy cover for linebackers or safeties however teams decide to defend him. It will be interesting see the different ways Bill O'Brien uses him.

Watson whipping it around

Deshaun Watson was tossing darts around the field. A couple of throws didn't go the offense's way in one drill and responded by drilling a laser to three different receivers. He has had a lot of solid throws in the workouts and plenty of them as responses to a poor play or play made by the defense.

It will be awesome to see Watson work with the full offense. The passing potential of this group is very high and Watson having a real offseason, instead of one filled with rehab, will be huge for him.

Long way to go, but something to show

Jermaine Kelly is an interesting player to watch going forward. Last week Bill O'Brien mentioned he is basically a rookie after missing his whole first year with an injury. Well today, he made a veteran play that had the defense going wild.

Kelly made an athletic leap in front of a wideout near the sideline snagging an interception. The defense went wild celebrating the big play mobbing Kelly and even treating it as a regular season interception with some players running to the end zone to pose for the camera. The energy level was high for the defense after that. Kelly also had some nice work against Vyncint Smith in a couple of drills. He has a lot to work on but is a name to watch heading into training camp.

Tytus' timeline

Tytus Howard continues to work into various roles with the team. He had one rep today, again not live and without pads, where he stymied a rusher with pure technique and footwork. It was impressive and rusher eventually just gave up. He wasn't afraid to get physical, as physical as the drills allow, either. He had a nicer day than some of the other tackles. I don't know if he has shown that he is better or worse at any given position. There is a lot more to evaluate in joint practices and preseason with him.

Get used to Watson to Coutee

The more work Watson and Keke Coutee get the better. Remember how good Wes Welker was for Bill O'Brien's offense in New England? I am not saying that is Watson and Coutee but this is easily the best QB-slot WR combo the Texans have ever had. With Watson's mobility Coutee is never going to be out of a play.

The next thing the offense needs to work with on Coutee is getting him deep from the slot. At Texas Tech, he was one of the best in the nation at attacking the middle of the field deep. There is hope with the chemistry he and Watson are building they can soon add that to the offense.

Peter Kalambayi continues to impress

Peter Kalambayi is a load for offensive linemen to handle. The defenders are always a little more physical in these drills and that worked to his advantage but the linebacker is a player to watch going into camp and the season. He has flashed some coverage ability as well as the talent to rush the passer.

He blew up one play today that would have resulted in a live rep sack. If he can carry this over to camp and even the season the Texans have a nice young player to provide depth at linebacker and play on special teams.

Catch of the day: Vyncint Smith

The catch of the day was an absolute beauty. Smith cooked the defense, was a few steps clear, and perfectly caught the over-the-shoulder pass. He is a totally different guy than the wide-eyed rookie from Limestone. Anyone challenging him for his roster spot will have a tall mountain to climb.

Backup slinging it

A.J. McCarron has a short memory. A couple of bad plays in a row didn't bother him as he hit a dime across the field down the sideline to move the offense in a drill. He isn't afraid to take a big shot downfield and try to make a play. This is a good development for the wideouts trying to make an impression as they will end up working with McCarron a lot during camp.

No (K)ompetition here

Ka'imi Fairbairn nailed his opportunities kicking on Tuesday. He made the most field goals in the league last year missing just five total. Hopefully the Texans won't have to call on him as much this year but if they do you can feel confident in John Christian Ka'iminoeauloameka'ikeokekumupa'a "Ka'imi" Fairbairn.

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The Texans can address receiver in the NFL Draft. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Texans traded away Brandin Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday for a 2023 fifth-round pick and a sixth-round pick in 2024.

Cooks’ move, while not eye-popping from a draft capital standpoint, opens the door for the Texans to pursue a receiver with one of the draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Houston has been known for having a top receiver for most of the franchise’s history. First with Andre Johnson and then with DeAndre Hopkins.

Now with the top spot up for grabs, here are some prospects at receiver the Texans could pursue with either the 12th overall pick or even into the second and third round of this year’s draft.

Quentin Johnston — TCU

Johnston has all the characteristics of a star receiver. He is 6 feet, 3 inches and weighed 208 pounds at the NFL Combine. The Temple native recorded a 40.5-inch vertical jump and 11-foot, 2-inch broad jump at the combine as well.

He hauled in 60 receptions for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns for the Horned Frogs in 2022 in a year that culminated in the College Football Playoff championship game. Johnston caught four passes for 139 yards in the Big 12 Championship Game, and he also caught six passes for 163 yards against Michigan in the College Football Semifinal.

Johnston’s biggest concern heading to the next level is his ability to make catches in traffic. In TCU’s College Football Championship Game against Georgia, he was held to just one catch for three yards. In order to reach his potential, Johnston will need a lot of development that will fall on the shoulders of Ben McDaniels and Bobby Slowik if taken by Houston.

Jordan Addison — USC

The former Trojan and Pittsburgh Panther caught at least 59 passes in every season of his collegiate career.

His best year came as a sophomore when he caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2021. Addison had 875 receiving yards and eight touchdowns with Caleb Williams under center in 2022 for USC.

Addison, who stands at 5 feet, 11 inches, ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, had a 34-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump at the combine. The Frederick, Maryland native’s consistency in college makes him an attractive pick for Houston that is going to be looking for versatile players at the receiver spot for the next signal caller under center.

Some of Addison’s drawbacks include his ability to win battles off the line of scrimmage when facing against physical corners. Similar to Johnston, he likely will not be there in the second round when the Texans pick, so if Houston really likes him, it might take the 12th pick.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba — Ohio State

Smith-Njigba could be the biggest question mark of the draft at the receiver position. After having a productive 2021 season for the Buckeyes, in which he caught 95 passes for an eye-popping 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns, he missed most of 2022 with a hamstring injury that limited him to just three games.

He stands at 6-foot-1-inch and 196 pounds, and he had a 35-inch vertical and 10-foot-5-inch broad jump at the NFL Combine. While excelling at the slot receiver position in 2021, having only one strong season is a big cause for concern.

If he is available after the first round, the Texans should consider taking a chance on him. If he is not, he might be too much of a question mark to take in round one.

Tank Dell — Houston

In a season that was defined by a lot of inconsistency from the Houston Cougars, the one constant was Dell at the receiver spot. Tank Dell, who’s real first name is Nathaniel but don’t call him that, caught at least five passes in every game for UH in 2022.

Despite being the No. 1 option, and in some weeks, the only reliable option at receiver for Houston due to injuries, Dell consistently produced, which is a trait every team in the NFL should love.

Dell finished the 2022 season with 109 catches for 1,398 yards and brought in 17 touchdown receptions for the Cougars. Tank officially measured in at 5 feet, 8 inches at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, a 1.49-second 10-yard split and a 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump.

Dell’s biggest cause for concern is his size. If he is still available when the Texans are on the clock at 65, he could be the steal of the draft.

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