HOUSTON -- A quarterback's best friend is usually the pass-catchers. If that's the case, where do the Houston Texans ranked entering 2021?
According to Jordan Cohn of Audacy Sports, the Texans won't be the worst team of a weapons for next season, but the loss of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller stings.
They enter this season as the No. 26th-ranked squad.
Brandin Cooks had a bounce-back season and was able to quickly find chemistry with Deshaun Watson, going for well over 1,000 yards while achieving the most important thing: staying healthy. But he lacks true star power, and that's the case for this somewhat deep but not all that exciting unit. Last season's most expensive free agent wide receiver, Randall Cobb, will hope to stay healthy, as is the case for David Johnson, and rookie Nico Collins and his big frame could be fun to watch if he can win an opportunity early. - Jordan Cohn
Houston will be deploying a new quarterback as Deshaun Watson's status makes it seem unlikely that he will return this season. This means that first-year head coach David Culley will rely on Tyrod Taylor or rookie Davis Mills to lead the pack.
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Naturally, that alone hurts the offense. Based on the production surrounding the arsenal, it could hurt Houston's status even more.
Cooks could be considered one of the most underrated weapons in the NFL after his impressive start. In five of his first seven seasons, he's recorded over 1,000 receiving yards. Last season, Cooks, 27, was one of just of 18 receivers to surpass the 1K marker.
The addition of Collins could provide upside for the long-term. The 6-foot-4 Michigan product elected to opt-out last season due to COVID-19. However, during his two seasons as a starter with the Wolverines, Collins recorded 1,361 receiving yards off 75 catches and tallied 13 total touchdowns.
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Cobb could be a stable option in the slot, but he also can't be cut due to his guaranteed money owed through the season. Last year, the former Packers star recorded 38 catches for 441 and three scores through 10 games.
Fourth-year slot receiver Keke Coutee will also be hopeful of remaining on the roster under the new staff.
At running back, only Johnson seems to be an asset in the passing game. Far from living up to expectations in 2020, the former Cardinals running back did tally 33 receptions for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Brevin Jordan, the team's fifth-round pick last April, is expected to compete for a starting role. One of the better pass-catching options at the position, the former Hurricane averaged over 14 yards per catch during the past two seasons and scored seven touchdowns in 2020.
Houston also has Jordan Akins to help in the passing attack entering a contract year.
In the rankings, Houston comes in fourth for the AFC South, but the drop-off between the four franchises isn't much. The Indianapolis Colts enter the year one spot ahead of Houston at No. 25. Two spots later are the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 23.
With the newly-acquired Julio Jones, the Tennessee Titans skyrocket into the top 10, coming in at No. 6. The former Atlanta Falcons star will pair with A.J. Brown, Josh Reynolds and Derrick Henry to hope keep Tennessee alive in the race for the AFC.
As for Houston? If Collins and Jordan prove to be long-term pieces, consider that a winning season for the receiving game.
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