For the Houston Texans, the 2021 NFL season begins with the rookie minicamp kicking off on Friday through this Sunday. As it stands the Texans will (assuming they all attend) have nine rookies in the building alongside a further two veterans trying out for a training camp spot.
With this in mind, here is a guide to who you should be looking out for.
A Trio of Wideouts
The Texans traded up to pick Nico Collins out of Michigan this year and the rangy receiver will be one to keep a close eye on. With Will Fuller now in Miami, the Texans should be entering this summer with the second wideout role up for grabs and Collins should be a prime candidate, given his differing skillset from star receiver Brandin Cooks, not to mention Collins' deep-threat speed.
Joining Collins will be undrafted free agents Marlon Williams out of UCF and Damon Hazelton of Mizzou. Williams in particular will be a player to watch. Productive after the catch, he's elusive and a bruising runner upon contact. His size could be a weapon both inside and out at 6'0".
Intriguing Tight End
Brevin Jordan, drafted in the fifth round, has been touted by many as a potential sleeper pick for the Texans. A tall and athletic receiver, Jordan has the potential to be a real Day 1 weapon for this Texans offense if he can find his footing early on.
Houston's highest-drafted player this year, Davis Mills joins from Stanford and enters an unsettled quarterback room. With the future of Deshaun Watson in question, veteran Tyrod Taylor is the favorite to land the starting job in 2021. However, with Taylor on just a one-year deal and bringing with him a history of injuries, Mills may be called upon sooner rather than later.
The Texans won't admit it, but they need Mills to have a strong summer and a seamless transition, not only for their season but for the sake of his Texans career to dissuade Houston from using a first-rounder next year on a QB.
Offensive Line Options
The Texans brought in two undrafted rookies out of Texas A&M in Ryan McCollum and Carson Green. They join a Texans offensive line group that has seen a great deal of turnover this offseason with another seven additions prior to the draft. In theory, McCollum should have the best shot at making the roster given Houston's uncertainty at cente, but both will need to impress in the coming weeks if they are to have a shot at making the roster.
Powerful Defensive Tackle
Sixth-rounder Roy Lopez is an interesting player. At 6'1" he isn't as tall as your prototypical defensive tackle, but his power, agility and aggression at the position give him a great base to build from. His pass-rushing ability will help give him a good shot at the roster as defensive coordinator Lovie Smith has already discussed how he wants his players to get after the ball. Lopez could be a great backup option to second-year DT Ross Blacklock, who shares a similar style.
Garret Wallow out of TCU should be a fine fit for this defense. A former safety, Wallow was a team captain in college and in his first interview after being drafted he discussed his desire to bring leadership to the locker room - something Blacklock also mentioned in a recent interview of his former Horned Frog teammate.
Wallow is a sideline-to-sideline defender who brings energy, but will need to find his groove early on given that the Texans currently have 13 linebackers on the roster.
Houston has two players coming in to tryout; defensive back Shyheim Carter and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Carter went undrafted in 2020 and spent the season with the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons, but did not make an appearance. He could be a practice squad contender down the line.
Meanwhile, Clinton-Dix, a former Pro Bowler, did not miss a game in the league between 2014 and 2019, starting all but 6. Assuming he can step back into his prior form, Clinton-Dix could have a real shot at not only making the roster but battling for a starting job. But he will need to impress this weekend.