How new Texans WR Stefon Diggs fits in Bobby Slowik’s offense

Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans got his separator at the wide receiver position after Houston traded for Bills wideout Stefon Diggs. Ryans had spoken about adding a player of Diggs’ skillset and caliber all offseason, and all it took to acquire him was a second-round pick.

Diggs brings many different things to the Texans’ offense under Bobby Slowik apart from his production and experience. Here’s exactly how he’ll fit in Houston’s offense this year.

He is the definition of that separator moniker Ryans spoke about because of his ability to win early and often. Diggs has the shake and quickness to beat press jams off of the line of scrimmage and is a professional route runner who can line up at the X, Y and Z positions with the NFL experience to understand how to beat any coverage.

Diggs will easily manipulate zone coverages by controlling his speed, acceleration and knowledge of where the windows are and when and how to sit down in the weak spots without throwing off the timing of his quarterback’s dropbacks.

However, Diggs isn’t a guy who is going to feast after the catch. And he doesn’t need to be that guy in Houston. What Diggs will be is a durable, ultra-talented possession receiver. Diggs, tight end Dalton Schultz and running back Joe Mixon will be security blankets who C.J. Stroud can rely on for every play if needed and allow Tank Dell and Nico Collins to work longer routes with the ability to gash opponents on the outside and downfield.

Schultz, Mixon and Diggs all had at least 50 receptions in 2023 with a 67% catch rate or better while averaging between 7-11 yards per reception. Dell (15.1), Collins (16.2) and Noah Brown (17.2) provide the big plays and run-after-catch ability. Dell also ranked 10th in the NFL in average targeted air yards at 14.2 in his rookie season, per NextGen Stats. Brown had 12.3 and Collins had 11.2. Diggs, meanwhile, averaged just 10.1. 

It’s not just that Diggs gives Stroud someone else to uncover quickly underneath and a go-to guy on third downs to move the sticks. Diggs’ durability and production are key as well. In his past four seasons, Diggs missed just one game while averaging 111 receptions for 1,343 yards and nine touchdowns on a 69% catch rate. He’s been a high-volume, reliable receiver and he’s been targeted on average over 160 times a year during that span.

Diggs has also been a zone-beater since he joined the Bills in 2020. The veteran ranked No. 1 in receptions over expectation against zone coverage over the past four seasons with 284, per NextGen Stats. Stroud himself thrives against zone coverage with a plus-62.6 passing expected points added this past season.

There will be some repercussions for the rest of the receiver position behind the trio of Diggs, Collins and Dell.

Robert Woods’ time should be short in Houston after this move: He’s expensive depth behind Diggs with a $5.5 million cap hit, per Over The Cap. Cutting Woods would leave $4.75 million in dead money but also save the team nearly $5 million in cap space. Xavier Hutchinson could also have a hard time making the 53-man roster. John Metchie III and Steven Sims should be safe considering their age and roles, but a draft addition could put them on thin ice.

Houston has been looking for a veteran receiver who can assist Stroud in crucial situations on third and fourth down. This was one of the biggest struggles in Slowik’s offense in Year 1, as the Texans ranked 19th (37.93%) on third down attempts in 2023 and 30th (38.10%) on fourth down. Diggs, meanwhile, ranks third in first-round receptions since 2020 with 271.

That type of production — both overall and in critical moments of games — cannot be overstated when it comes to Diggs’ addition to the Texans offense.

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