Will Fuller Gives the Texans a Second Dangerous Wide Receiver
With a lot of wide receiver talent at the top of the draft, it seemed like everyone had things ranked differently. The Houston Texans clearly had a preference, spending a sixth-round pick to move up one spot and select Will Fuller 21st overall.
If you're interested in this year's wide receiver class, there's no better place to start than Reception Perception, a project put together by NFL.com's Matt Harmon. Harmon charted games from 21 of the top receiver prospects, tracking their production in a variety of situations.
Harmon's numbers raise some concerns about Fuller as a first round pick. His 64.7 percent success rate versus man coverage was below average, his 20% success rate against double coverage (albeit over a very small sample size) was below average, and his 42.4 percent success rate against press coverage was the worst among the prospects charted. He also only recorded a catch on 13.5 percent of his routes run.
He did excel against zone coverage though, ranking ninth with a 76.7 percent success rate, had an above average success rate when running "nine" routes, and broke tackles at an above-average rate.
The thing that had Fuller high on draft boards is his blazing speed, so let's take a look at his measurables, courtesy of PlayerProfiler:
As you can see, his straight-line speed stacks up as elite, while his agility isn't anything to write home about. PlayerProfiler also has him as elite in Dominator Rating (a measure of a player's share of their team's receiving yards and touchdowns) with a 46.7 percent, ranking in the 91st percentile, and his 20.3 yards per reception were also elite, ranking in the 94th percentile.
These numbers draw him a comparison with Mike Wallace. Wallace's recent struggles have made him the butt of some jokes, but it's important not to lose sight of the fact that Wallace posted 3,206 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns through his first three seasons. Per Pro Football Reference, both of those rank fifth among receivers since 2,000.
His Fit With Houston
Houston is providing newly-acquired Brock Osweiler with a nice array of weapons, having already added Lamar Miller at running back and now drafting Will Fuller to play alongside DeAndre Hopkins, one of the league's top wideouts.
While Hopkins finished 2015 fourth among receivers in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP), there was a large void across from him this off-season. Nate Washington, who was second on the team in that category, has a new home in New England, and Cecil Shorts was very inefficient in 2015, finishing near the very bottom of the league in Reception NEP per target.
With the Texans having traded up for him, there's no doubt that he has a great shot of starting in the 2016 season, and if he can translate his physical abilities to on-field production, Houston will have quite an interesting array of offensive weapons at their disposal.
And if you need any more help getting yourself excited about Fuller, here are some 2015 highlights: