HOUSTON -- Nick Caserio best be betting on Nico Collins to make an impact during his rookie year with the Houston Texans. Trading away future draft capital for a player who opted out last season certainly seems risky.
So far, the reward is worth the risk in more ways than one.
Collins continues to be the biggest breakout star in Texans' camp. On Monday, the 6-5 receiver known for his frame showed off his speed down the sidelines on a vertical route against John Reid.
If that happened on a Sunday in September, consider it a touchdown.
"I tell you what, I'm starting to see him make some plays," Texans coach David Culley said of Collins. "Again as you watch the video, there's still some things that he's not doing that we need to do better, but he's playing bigger. And you see him every day he'll end up making a play here or there."
The Texans are high on Collins' upside. Why wouldn't they be after trading two future picks to move back up into the third round to select him?
Culley still thinks there's work that needs to be done. More than anything, the first-year head coach is looking for that level of play every snap, not just in glimpses from the Alabama native.
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"He's got to make those plays all the time, and that's not happening right now," Culley said. "But he is getting better and better each day and he's got to continue to do that."
Culley might be onto something when it comes to the regular season, but there's plenty to like from the first five practices. Collins could be considered an "old school No. 1 receiver," or an "X,'' known for size as much as speed.
Coming out of Michigan, his production proved his capabilities of being a top target at the next level. Collins led the Big Ten in yards per catch (19.7) during his final year in 2019. He also finished with 37 receptions for 729 yards and seven touchdowns.
The speed is real for someone his size — and no, it's not just the 4.44 40-time. Collins' "game speed'' has been evident in the past several practices, as has his route-running skills and ability to change direction at the drop of a hat.
"Nico has a bright future," veteran cornerback Terrance Mitchell said. "He's a big receiver and he has a bright future."
The good news for the present is that Collins could be a stable No. 2 weapon opposite Brandin Cooks. Heck, he even could be a No. 3 with Chris Conley improving week by week.
As for the future? It's bright in Houston. Caserio took a swing last April and so far, it looks like a home run selection.
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