After trading Brandin Cooks to the Cowboys, could the Houston Texans be back on wide receiver early in the 2023 NFL Draft?
The Houston Texans have opted for the subtle route so far in free agency, but they made a big move via trade that has been expected for a while. Houston traded disgruntled wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick. That is a low return, but Cooks has a pretty substantial contract.
Now, the Texans sit with uncertainties at wide receiver. The hope is that John Metchie will come back this season. Robert Woods has dealt with injury over the past few seasons. Nico Collins hasn’t really been asked to be a WR1. Noah Brown comes over from Dallas on a one-year deal, but he isn’t a WR1 either.
Houston did get some insurance at tight end in adding Dalton Schultz, who should provide a reliable middle of the field target in the passing game. But, for a team that’s likely to add a rookie signal-caller in the 2023 NFL Draft, it doesn’t feel like enough.
The Houston Texans do have picks 12 and 33 in the 2023 NFL Draft, both of which could be used to add a wide receiver. The Texans will likely have their pick of any player in the class at pick 12, and could start the run. Or, they could wait and see if a top guy falls to them, or move up a couple spots to make it happen near the end of the first round.
So who could it be? Jaxon Smith-Njigba is still a popular selection in mock drafts, and he would be another friendly target for a young quarterback. His short-area quicks, route running chops against man and zone coverage, reliable hands and flashes of brilliance at the catch point, and his post-catch prowess make for a complete receiver. But, is Smith-Njigba too close to guys like Woods and Metchie stylistically to be the pick? It’s possible.
Jordan Addison might be more of a Cooks type than a true slot like the other two receivers in Houston, which could make for the selection. But, do the Texans want to swing that early on a 171-pound receiver with average testing numbers? It might be better if he falls to them early in the second round.
Then there’s Quentin Johnston, who not only is a different player than anyone on the roster, but also brings the element of explosiveness that’s lacking in the room. His ability to make defenders miss and rip off big gains with the ball in his hands is a big deal. Johnston is a naturally smooth athlete as well, and offers a jump ball threat and a vertical threat all in one. He has inconsistencies to work through from snap to snap, but his upside is unmatched.
Will the Houston Texans address wide receiver early in the 2023 NFL Draft? It would be hard to fault them for doing so, especially at pick 33 or in a move up back into the first round. Pick 12 still feels a little early, where there will be top defensive talent available. Still, it’s clear after the Cooks trade that receiver still needs help. Surrounding a rookie with enough talent early is a huge boost for whoever is under center in the fall.