Texans trade up to get WR Fuller with 21st pick
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans needed a receiver to play with DeAndre Hopkins, and were willing to trade up to get him.
Houston selected Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller, trading their sixth-round pick to Washington to move up one spot to take him at No. 21 overall in the NFL draft Thursday night.
''He was a guy we felt strongly about we didn't take a chance on not getting him,'' general manager Rick Smith said. ''So we were aggressive and we went and made the move.''
Hopkins made his first Pro Bowl last season after finishing third in the NFL with 1,521 yards receiving. But the Texans were looking for another top-tier receiver to take some pressure off the 23-year-old Hopkins, who faced near constant double teams last season, and give new quarterback Brock Osweiler another target as he takes over Houston's offense.
''I'm super excited to be playing with DeAndre Hopkins,'' Fuller said. ''I had a teammate on Notre Dame from South Carolina. That's all he talked about was Hopkins. I'm very aware of how good he is. I can't wait to play on the same team as him.''
Fuller had 62 receptions for 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns last season for the Fighting Irish. It was his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season after he had a career-high 76 receptions for 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns - also a career-best - in 2014. He had one receiving touchdown as a freshman to give him 30, second in school history.
He said his only contact with the Texans was at the combine, but he was encouraged by that visit.
''I felt good about it because I knew they needed a receiver who could open the field up and I felt like I fit that mold perfectly,'' Fuller said.
At 6-foot and 184 pounds, Fuller isn't all that big, but his 4.32 40-yard dash speed should help him become a deep threat in coach Bill O'Brien's offense. His speed is what Smith valued most about him.
''He's fast,'' Smith said. ''Not only is he just straight line 40-yard dash fast, this guy plays extremely fast and quick. And adding that element to our offense we all just felt would really enhance what we do offensively with the creativity that these guys have on our offensive staff.''
O'Brien is very familiar with Fuller after trying to recruit him while coaching at Penn State.
''We saw this guy at our high school camp when I was the head coach there and we offered him right away there when we saw him run around and do some of the things he was doing in high school,'' O'Brien said.
O'Brien said Fuller will begin his career as an outside receiver, but they'll move him around as he gets a grasp of the offense. The Texans need to upgrade their return game and O'Brien said they'll give Fuller a chance to showcase his blazing speed by trying him out returning kicks and punts.
Fuller attended high school at Roman Catholic in Philadelphia, but didn't realize he was following in the footsteps of a former NFL star receiver until he was well into his prep career.
''I actually never met Marvin Harrison,'' he said. ''I'm still looking forward to that. But he definitely was someone who I looked up to being a young kid watching the game. He's one of the best, and I didn't even figure out he went to the same high school as me until I broke one of his records.''
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